Camp NaNoWriMo: Crossing the Finish Line

Final word count: 50,214 words in total

This is basically the first event of this nature that I’ve ‘finished’ – although during my participation in Script Frenzy I did complete the draft of the script, but it was much less than what was needed to ‘win’ – and it’s a very exciting, accomplished feeling. Not only was I finally able to get down a good first draft to go from for a story I’ve been trying to get down as I want it to be for years, I was able to participate in a fun event and make a lot out of the communication and advantages that come with it, and complete the challenge. Pushing through the last paragraphs I needed to get to the total that night, I did have a lot of trouble with – but I was determined to make it through to the 50,000th word on the draft that night.

I’d already written a bit that day, earlier on, trying to get into the ‘zone’ and figure out a good word count, and I needed only about 2k more to finally make it to 50k. I was at a scene that I hadn’t intended to put in, but it just came as an advantage to me – it was something I could definitely write a lot out of. I’d decided to throw my main character a bit of a bone and let him have a good night, but not without a little trouble and definitely not without throwing in a big plot point that I’d been building up to from the beginning. It was a big revelation, and my character had a lot of trouble admitting it (it took him a few paragraphs of trying to explain things before he was able to just write it) even to his journal.

Of course, I’d been planning to make this one carry over the course of journal entries spanning throughout a year, getting to know my characters and their situation, but something about the way this scene had ended just felt incredibly right. It was perfect for an ending to this first story – I’d gotten to know not only my main character, but his family, his friend, the other characters involved, his situation, and I’d built up to this revelation throughout the story as I’d worked it.

Of course, there are things that I need to fix and change and the entire thing is going to be re-written (and probably a little longer) – there are plot devices that I need to weave in better and I need to put in some more information, and I need to fix the ‘time-line’ of most of it. I’d somehow made this draft, despite being over 30 entries, take place in a much shorter period of time than intended, and that’s… not really going to work well. I’m going to stretch it out over a few more months so I can give some more development to different things and try to figure out different things in the next draft. I didn’t set up for the first one to end at that point, so there are obviously some bits that I held back on and of course, being a fairly quickly written draft, there are a few inconsistencies and a lot of things I need to fix, but it’s going to be serving as a good tool during my outlining process and a good starting place.

Camp NaNoWriMo has been a good tool for me in finally getting the ball rolling here. I’m excited for what’s to come next – I’m going to spend July pouring over this first draft and working out an outline on it. I’m hoping that my next posts on writing and the process will be on either first drafts or making outlines and how I go about those two things – whether the first one that will come is going to be one or the other, I’m not sure, but I’m betting I’ll probably cook something up about first drafts before outlining. I’ve already started on that bit, but I think it’d make more sense judging by my outlining process to write about this whole first draft business first.

How is the last week of Camp NaNoWriMo going for you? Have you crossed the finish line, or are you expecting to?

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Camp NaNoWriMo Week Three

Word count: 45,406 and counting

Week three is at it’s end and, while not necessarily keeping directly on my schedule, Camp NaNoWriMo has been going wonderfully for me. I’ve been making good progress with my story and writing, and currently have over 30 entries for my WIP done. As I’ve said a few times before, this run with the story has been so much more fun for me than the previous attempts at getting out a full draft. I’m much more confident about this version and, come November, when it should be done, I’m going to put it away for a week or two before I go back and review the entries. In reviewing them, I’ll have my handy dandy notebook where I’ll do an overview of basically what I touched base on in each one that I’d like to be kept in the final draft, add in what I want to be put in there, make any changes I need/add any new entries or parts of the plot, basically make an outline for the rewriting through looking at my mess of a first draft from this NaNo-season.

What I’ve loved the most about this experience in general, aside from the writing itself, is being able to share what I’ve been able to do and my new developments. Participating in the wordsprints and interacting with other people doing these types of events, being able to experience the whole thing with others. My lovie and I have been working at this together, and talking to him about the whole mess has been one of the best parts of it. I’m not too sure where he is in terms of word-count, but regardless of that, being able to enjoy Camp NaNoWriMo with him and the sort of ‘community’ of people participating has been amazing.

As for the most enjoyable parts of the writing, I’m not sure exactly what I’d pick. Perhaps the way I can get into character so easily, the way I can explore him so much easier through these journal entries and give him a very prominent voice while doing so, or the way I can come up with an idea on the fly to write about when nothing in particular that I’ve planned ahead for is going on and make something of it just to get those words in and getting something a lot better than I expected out of it. Maybe it’s the progress on the story in general, or, more in particular, the character development (developing characters has always been one of my favourite parts of writing – I love getting to know my characters and sort of see what I can come up with for them, starting out with one idea and as I write and go through the development of the story and it’s draft, wind up with something completely different than I thought).

This story is basically a sort of warm-up for the series itself – the one I’m writing now isn’t exactly intended to be published. I guess you could call it a bonus, an exploration of the character before things really start up. It’s a way to get the ball running and leading up to a good place to start the first book I have planned for the series. What I’m thinking I’ll do is, when I’m working through the final draft for this, post it gradually on here to not only get feedback to help me as I go but make this sort of ‘bonus’ available to what could be potential readers of the series. Not only would it be a good way to figure out my writing style and get into my characters, it’d also be a fun way to get people’s opinions on it and see if anyone likes it.

Thankfully, I’m not making all of the developments here – what I plan to do is to  use this as an opportunity to learn about who my characters are and what situation they’re in at the beginning of the series. While I intend to make this the best I can make it, I’m trying to really save the best for what happens after, for the stories that will follow and will – hopefully – be published one day. For now, it’s just a dream and a goal, but I’m doing everything I can to work towards it. That just happens to be participating in events like these – I have other projects that I need to get done, and those projects will be a big focus of mine outside of these events.

In other words, the first drafts for each of these stories will more than likely be (mostly) written during NaNoWriMo events. I enjoy these types of events so much, they help keep me inspired and get everything down quick without going back to edit and basically help me through the process of getting a first draft down. I’ve been thinking on these things often this past week, and (at least at the moment) this is what the plan for the future is. I’m unbelievably excited to make more progress on this current project I’m working on now and see where it goes, but I’m sure that by the end of November, I’ll probably want to take a bit of a “kinda-sorta” break from it and focus on other projects while I edit and rewrite.

I’m planning on writing 2k every day for the rest of the month, with the exception of today and the day after I hit 50k (if it’s before the very end of the month). I want to have at least 40 entries done by the end of the month, so I need to really buckle down and get what I can done. I’d like to take a break next month, but if I don’t get at least 40 entries done in June, I’ll have to cut out the break and keep working hard towards that in July.

For this last week of Camp NaNoWriMo coming up, I’m planning on trying to wrap it up with a big event in the draft so I can have an exciting finish to the month to come back to at the beginning of August. As of now, I’m not too sure what it’ll be, but I’ll be able to come up with something soon. I have a few things in mind. Whether or not they’ll be positive or negative for my main character, we’ll have to see… but knowing me, it’ll probably be something that has a pretty negative effect on it. Looking forward to it!

What do you plan on doing for this last week of Camp NaNoWriMo? How has the event been going for you so far?

Camp NaNoWriMo Week Two

Word-count: 33,875 and counting

It’s Saturday morning and week two is slowly coming to a close. The chirping of birds is practically all I hear aside from the tapping of my keys, my nose is cold and red, my ankles are covered in strange bug bites. I have been having a bit of trouble writing every day this week like I’ve wanted to, and phasing back into a schedule, but today is going to be my little fix for that.

I just finished up an entry to my current novel that I’m working on here, and clocked in my current word-count. This particular entry was taking me a while, and I’m glad it’s over, so that when the next wordsprints start up on my twitter feed, I’ll be able to jump into a new entry and new scene that I don’t have very planned out aside from making it something important and potentially plot-effecting. Thinking about it is exciting, but I’m going to let that build up until the sprints start. Until then, I’ll be working on other things – this post, my current side project, maybe even reading.

Week three is going to be exciting, I think. I’m nearing 40k – that’s really shocking me. Looking at the counter and my progress on the website, however, I’m not satisfied – it’s not steadily improving. I’ve been missing out on writing at all some days, and others, I only write a little, not enough to update on. I’m trying to get back to my entry-a-day thing, so that I can finish at least 40 -45 entries before the month’s end. I’m going to be trying to make a steady and fair amount of progress daily, even on my birthday (tomorrow), and find whatever ways possible to keep the writing fun and exciting.

When July comes, I’ll write a few entries, maybe one or two per week, but focus mainly on reading and drawing throughout the week with writing more prominent on the weekends. Towards the end of next month, I’ll probably start steadily writing more entries to get prepped for the beginning of the next session of Camp NaNoWriMo, in August, which I’ll be continuing this current novel for (adding 50k new words, though, of course!), and after that’s done, I’ll probably flip back to the July ‘schedule’ until November comes around. I’ll still be keeping up with trying to write a blog entry or two per week, and maybe working on short stories, but I’m thinking my other two projects, my big one that I worked on for Script Frenzy and my current side one, will probably take the reins more in-between NaNoWriMo months and after November, which is when I’m hoping to finish this novel’s draft up.

I’ll probably leave it be for a bit, and a few months later, come back to it and work out editing notes, get down a sort of timeline to work from to rearrange and reference during rewrites and during the writing of the rest of the series, so that when working on another book in the series, I don’t have to pull out the full draft and search through it, but rather just look at my timeline/detailed summaries for personal reference. I’m not sure what all I’ll be working on aside from this current project and blog-posts in terms of actually getting writing done, and that is a bit scary to think about – with all of that time in-between 2012 NaNo season’s end and 2013 NaNo season’s beginning, which is when writing will probably take control again, I’m not sure what I’ll be writing to keep myself sharp.

Aside from my planning for the future after NaNoWriMo season for 2012 is over, things have been going fairly well. I’m hoping to improve on all of the things that have been hindering me along the way during week two, and get back on schedule today.

How has week two been treating you? Any problems, or anything opposite of that?

‘Camping’ out

I’ve made it pretty apparent that I’m participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this summer. I’ve been writing up a storm, making new discoveries about my story and it’s characters, having a blast. But aside from this, I am, very loosely, sort of camping out a little bit during the event. Starting this week, I’ve been spending nights out on our car port, staying until a little while after sunrise, getting a good deal of my ‘daily’ writing in during the dead of the night while I’m outside, along with catching up on reading a bit, drawing a little here and there, and just messing around.

It’s ridiculous, I know, but it’s fun.

My lovie has also been on camera with me nearly the entire time I’ve been spending outside, which helps me keep distracted from any spooky noises or the fact that it’s the dead of the night quite a lot more than I’d expected it to. Writing outside – and writing with him – has been so fun, it’s definitely a lot more enjoyable than my last attempt at participating in NaNoWriMo and going by smoother than Script Frenzy, as I’ve been able to evade the inner editor and just have fun with it. Sharing my writing escapades with others – usually during wordsprints – has helped tremendously. Of course, there’s usually not much to report, but yesterday morning, I found myself tweeting again and again about the interruptions to my wordsprinting while outdoors.

Firstly, at the beginning of a sprint, I heard a loud, screeching noise from the nearby road. I looked, and saw a deer flash by and, about half a minute later, a car. I was shocked by this event, happy that the deer apparently survived, and just a little bit horrified by the loud noise of the car. Later on during that sprint, a cat wandered through my yard, catching my attention for a good bit, and I was then left to carry on with my sprinting.

Or so I thought.

As I was writing a fairly intense, emotional scene for my narrator and main character, I took a quick look to the side, to see a deer just strutting on through the yard. For some reason, this excited me – seeing a deer was awesome, even though they’re practically everywhere here. It stopped and locked eyes with me, just staring at me for a minute, so naturally, I started talking to the deer as if it were going to respond (of course, it didn’t – but it’d be awesome if it did). When it started to walk away, it looked back at me, and I realized, a bit too late, having already referred to it as Mr. Deer, that it was female.

I was interrupted once more by a pair of birds in the driveway just derping around, making a fairly odd noise at one another, but other than that, I was left to be at peace with my writing and sprinting, but this is exactly why I love spending my nights and mornings outside to write lately (aside from the fresh air and the beautiful show of fireflies if I come out early enough to catch it) – the way the animals come out and show themselves so much more in the morning. I don’t know why, but it’s always really exciting to see these animals – be it a deer, a cat, a pair of birds being silly in the driveway, or a little bird fairly close to me tweeting away.

Despite getting interrupted so often, I’ve been able to get a lot of my writing for Camp NaNoWriMo done quicker during the night/morning outside, and often, it’s felt a lot more exciting and fun than it has been when not outdoors lately.

In other words, I’m enjoying Camp NaNoWriMo even more now that I’ve been spending late-nights messing around on the carport.

It’s pretty awesome.

Camp NaNoWriMo Week One: Schedule Adjustments, Story Involvement, and Late-Night Camp-outs

Word-count: 27,963 and counting

I’ll admit, this is a bit late, but I think it’s still close enough to do this.

Week two of Camp NaNoWriMo has officially begun, and the first week of the event has gone fairly well for me.

Despite adjusting to a new sleep schedule and trying to work my sessions and rewards to fit that, I’ve still managed to get a fairly good total word-count so far, and am keeping it up. My story is making wonderful progress, and like I thought I would, I’m stepping into dimensions of it that I haven’t before, on a deeper level than expected, and discovering more and more new things that are making the process even more of a joy to go through. My characters are developing, my plot is twisting and taking leaps I never thought it would, and I’m writing more than ever, thanks to the help and support of my lovie and doing wordsprints to keep up.

I have been faltering on my rewards a bit – movies aren’t working anymore, since my laptop, for some reason, refuses to play DVDs, which I’ve tried every solution I could find to fix, from updating drivers, to codecs, to cleaning the disk drive myself, but I am determined to keep up with giving rewards and having a little bit of fun every weekend to refresh everything. I will admit that I have been slacking on writing sessions and hitting my minimum word goal every day, but I have my schedule change to thank for that, and am working on it. I’ve been able to evade my inner editor thus far, and just letting the words fly – it’s a blast!

Getting so involved with the story for the periods of time that I’m working on it is a blessing and a curse, sadly. Since it’s being written in journal entry format, there are entries now and then that the character gets a bit emotional and cuts the entry short, to finish up explaining at a later time, and sometimes, the buildup and getting in-tune with that feeling leave me dumbfounded on how to start the next one, stuck in that sort of feeling for a little while, but I have been able to evade it by forcing myself to start and trying to write a starting line for the next entry when I finish the prior one, in order to sneak away from the “how the hell do I start this one now” stage at a later session and just get into writing the actual content.

Re-acquainting with my characters, especially the narrator, has been a treat, as well. He’s gaining a lot more dimension and becoming a lot more than he ever was in the previous attempts to get this story done, and I find him a lot more interesting and likable than I did beforehand. At this point, he’s struggling with a lot of things – no one else seems to believe what he sees, he knows near nothing about his real parents yet still feels haunted by the brief memories he does have and the tiny links to him he’s starting to unearth, and approaching him are struggles with things more related to who he is on the (cliche wording oops) ‘inside’, this bit here being the aspect that I think will help make him easier to relate to for the average reader in terms of his struggling with, among the rest of the things, things most people do at some point in their life, specifically teenagers.

There has been a little trouble weaving the plot together the way I wanted to, but I’ll keep working on that and fix it up more in the editing process if need be. I’ve definitely wound up neglecting certain parts every now and then, but again, that can be dealt with in the point of the process where I go back and spruce up those bits. Right now, I’m focusing on pushing the story forward and getting everything down so I can edit and make it worth something more later, anyhow. I’m not sure how many times I’ve mentioned this, but the quote stating that you can’t edit a blank page is one of my favourites, despite not knowing the exact quote or the person it’s credited to, and I like to enforce it as much as possible.

Unfortunately, all of the work on writing and sleep schedule hoopla has left me slacking on my reading. I just haven’t had time to pick up the books I’m currently reading and making significant progress. The fact that I’m reading more than one book right now isn’t really helping – I want to catch up on my goal to read 12 books this year, and I’ve been getting caught up in things every time I start to make progress on that, so I’m trying to juggle reading Lara Parker’s ‘The Salem Branch’, Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, and a little bit of Scott McCloud’s ‘Making Comics’ on the side there at once. Trying to alternate is one of the big problems here, but I’m working on that, as well.

Catching up on that, though, is what I suppose tonight is for – I wrote a bit on my Camp NaNoWriMo novel, and am going to be spending the rest of the night trying to catch up on other things I’ve been neglecting lately. I’m currently on page 135 of ‘The Salem Branch’ out of 334, 392 of ‘Dracula’ out of 450, and 101 of ‘Making Comics’ out of 272, and am going to be working on that periodically throughout the night. Speaking of which, I am planning to spend the entire night outside – since my new sleeping schedule utilizes staying up until sunrise and sometimes after, and I’ve been coming outside to get most of my writing done, I’ve decided to attempt to spend my entire night out here on the carport.

It’s currently 1:28 AM, and I’m doing fairly well thus far. I thought that I would wind up chickening out, but I’ve updated my to-do list and got plenty to keep me occupied, plus the company of my lovie to keep me from getting too scared. I’ll be dropping inside – just at the front door – on the occasion to grab a drink or a bite of string cheese, but other than that, most of tonight is being spent out here. I guess you could consider it camping out, if only a little, in the Camp NaNoWriMo spirit. In addition to reading, I’ll be updating things that need updating that I’ve been neglecting a bit, and probably wind up working at least a little on the NaNo Novel as the sun comes up (sleepy writing is always fun).

To keep up with my progress throughout the month a bit better, you can follow me on twitter @TheDerpOfficer and I’ll most likely follow you back (just say the word, hehe). I’ll probably be giving some fairly frequent updates on the late-night “camp-out” throughout the night, as well, if anyone’s interested to see how that’s going!

In conclusion, the first week has been well, and week two is setting itself up to go by great, as well! How has the first week of Camp NaNoWriMo or JuNoWriMo been going for everyone else participating?

How I benefit from ‘Word-sprinting’

Yesterday, I logged about 1,000 more words than my usual daily goal for Camp NaNoWriMo (getting around 3,000 words done in all the day). I didn’t work any extra time on it, and I didn’t really labor over it, either – those are things that I usually end up doing to finish an entry in my novel per day, and sometimes just to hit my day’s word goal. I got these words through wordsprints.

I don’t usually do them – I tend to prefer to stick to just having a good ol’ writing session twice a day to log my daily 2,000. But I’ve been following people who are doing wordsprints for JuNoWriMo, and they seemed like a lot of fun. Yesterday, I wasn’t able to have my first writing session because my 2-year old nephew came over and was hell-bent on watching Thomas the Train, making me play with giant dinosaur toys, and punching me in the face, so I didn’t really have the time to get the writing in. My mother, who was also being forced into the torture of watching the terrifying Thomas the Train and punched in the gut, asked if I wanted to go to Starbucks later, after supper (and after my precious, vicious nephew was back at home), and of course, I took the high opportunity – I seem to write best in a Starbucks. I decided to take a chance and try to do some wordsprints instead of write straight through my Starbucks time.

I was able to do two sprints at Starbucks, and got 1,280 words there in all. Not bad – I got interrupted a few times and still managed to get a pretty good count. When I got home, I did a few more sprints (around three) and logged the rest of my words then (aside from about a hundred outside of it, but that’s not too much compared to the rest that I got down). While I do still want to keep going through with my two writing sessions with my lovie on weekdays, there’s no doubt that when I’m a bit behind on my schedule or having something the next day that might hinder my count a little, I’ll turn to wordsprints.

How I was able to get so many more words so much quicker through sprints I don’t exactly know, but I think it has something to do with the fact that it was narrowing down my time to get some words in, sort of like a race, and that there were other people doing it that I could share my success and problems with in-between sprints. I could talk about how many words I was able to get, how I got interrupted or distracted and by what, and there were the occasional silly prompts for things to put into our work that sprint (the only one I went through with, though, was mentioning a donut. No one can resist that one, though). I had a lot of fun doing the actual wordsprints, and the mini-breaks in-between.

If you’re behind on your word-count or need to write with little reward breaks in-between, I think wordsprints are the way to go. I’m not sure where else people run them, but I’ve found the ones I participate in on twitter (I personally follow the JuNoWriMo account and have been doing sprints from there, but there are people in the hashtag who run them, and during November, there’s an account that runs NaNoWriMo wordsprints, as well). If you’re a little iffy about it, I suggest you at least give it a chance when you have some time on your hands – it may just give you a hand in boosting that word-count.

How has June been going for you all? If you’re participating in Camp NaNoWriMo or JuNoWriMo, what’s your word-count and how have you been managing it?

Managing Writing Time During NaNoWriMo

I’ve seen a lot of posts around about making time to write, and I know there are people out there who can get a lot from these posts – but for me, it’s not so much finding time to write as finding time for other things while writing, specifically during times like these – basically, what I’ll call ‘NaNo season’, which, depending on whether you want to tie Script Frenzy in or not, is April or June 1st to November 30th, plus the aftermath and the time spent preparing beforehand if you do any prep-work, where I personally focus a lot on writing. I’m using NaNo season to get a story I’ve been working on and off on since November 2009, myself, but that’s a post for another time. During all of the hype about writing during this time, it’s easy to forget, at least for me, that there are other things I need to get done.

Writing is basically the center of my activities in life right now – aside from spending time with my lovie, it’s probably what I do the most out of all of my usual activities. But how, when I have the ability to bend all of my other things with my schedule, do I make sure I give myself time to do things important to me other than writing? A lot of the time, I find myself getting caught up in writing and not finishing other things that I either need to get done or would benefit from finishing, but I do have ways of managing my time so I can get all of that writing in and still finish the other things I need.

It’s generally a matter of knowing that while writing is a very important thing in my life, I can’t neglect the people and other things that I love. When it comes down to it, the people I care about are more important than getting as much writing as possible done. When someone needs me, I won’t force myself not to be there for them because of writing – that’d be ridiculous. I make sure to keep in contact with everyone, and to spend time with them, as well. I may love writing, but it’s not as important as these people are to me – it’s a matter of keeping your head balanced and knowing that you need to make time for other things and for the people who matter to you.

I make sure to give myself times that I dedicate as a whole to writing, to assure myself that I get it done, but give myself time to also nurture the other parts of my life, such as my relationships and hobbies. When I know there’s an event that may take away from my writing time, I give myself a little bit of extra-time the days beforehand so that I can make up for writing missed, and generally write a little bit more than necessary to hit my month’s goal anyways per day just in case.

I give myself a daily goal for my writing – I personally aim to finish at least one entry of my story and hit a certain word count while I’m at it, and I split that word-count in half, giving myself two separate sessions of writing, where I don’t stop until I reach at least that half-count. As I mentioned in my Camp NaNoWriMo plan post, I’m doing these sessions with a friend, and try to stop when he does rather than keep going until I’m burnt out if I can’t rip myself away after I personally hit the goal. I try to keep these sessions separate, and spend the time in-between doing the things I need to get done outside of writing.

Some things I use as a writing reward when I hit my half-count. For example, I let myself catch up a little on my reading when I finish my first writing session, and go on with the other things I need to catch up on after I finish with that, mainly art and schoolwork. I take my tests, which a bulk of my schoolwork is due to my homeschooling system, once a week, usually doing one on either Tuesday or Thursday, and spend extra time working on sketching or doodling, while going with my schedule and working on my paintings after I hit my daily weekend word goal on Saturday/Sunday nights.

I reserve two parts of the day to hit certain writing goals, and use the rest of the day to deal with the other things I need to finish up on, which can be applied to tighter schedules as well with some adjusting, perhaps to free-time or waking up earlier/going to bed a bit later or any other way that you’re comfortable adjusting it. Since I have a more flexible day, I give myself bigger goals (2,000 words per day in the week, 840 words per day on weekends, 1,000 words per weekday session and 840 in a sitting on weekends) and only break it into two blocks, but it’s a matter of preference and how much time you want or need to set aside for other things.

Now, there are more things here than getting other types of work done – yes, I’m talking about the social life (that term doesn’t really rub me the right way. It sounds a bit standoffish for some reason). That’s a bit simple for me – again, I have free-time that is flexible, mainly during weekdays, so I make my plans beforehand and give myself more time to write around the days before so that I’ll be able to make up for words and goals missed.

Since I’m giving myself a weekly reward for writing, I also use that as an opportunity to do things with friends – in this case, I’m going to be watching movies each Sunday this month, mostly with my writing partner, but there will be times that I invite some other friends to spend that time with me, one example being my birthday – since it falls on a Sunday, I’m going to write a little extra the day before and spend the entire day as a ‘reward day’ rather than just take a little block of time to watch a movie as reward, inviting all of my friends to essentially spend the day having fun. Using writing reward-time as a time to keep up with friends/family is, for me, a good method, so long as I make sure to set aside reward-time as time that they can work with as well.

How has NaNo season been going for you all?