NaNoWriMo Recap

For those that don't keep track of every aspect of my life (you should, it's really quite fascinating), I participated in this year's NaNoWriMo challenge of writing a 50,000 word novel (really novella, since it only ends up being about 120 pages) in thirty days. Last night, after a 6 hours write-athon of almost 10,000 words I finished, a day early. 

I am so glad to be done. 

I had mixed feelings about the whole process before I started; I opted out of doing it last year because I wasn't comfortable with the process. With 50,000 words on the docket you basically have to speed through without looking back. So, I decided not to do it. And then a year went by and I write absolutely nothing. Obviously, I this year I had a change of heart. Being the closeted competitor that I am, the challenge-type structure of it was actually ended up being perfect for me. 

Finding the time this month to write was pretty challenging in and of itself, despite the fact that I had a week off. Between being pretty buried at work, trying to get my house ready for Thanksgiving, and still "doing stuff" I was pretty busy. Writing 50,000 words took me somewhere around 40 or so hours, and that's with basically no editing (I am quite confident what awaits me is a shit sandwich- there will be two or three gems buried somewhere inside, hopefully). I know it doesn't sound like that much time, but when you're looking at adding, on average, an hour or two a day to what I already have going it's a big commitment. Keep in mind I don't watch little TV- I had to cut out reading, which hurt my heart to no end. And there were days I didn't write, or wrote very little, which ended up compounding the average I needed to keep. Who knew that writing could end up being such a numbers game. 

I am actually pretty pleased with what I've come up with so far, in terms of general plot, tone, and character creation. Everything has to be developed much, much more, not to mention the fact that the story line needs to be finished. My goal is to have a draft (meaning probably, I'm guessing, another 60,000-70,000) words by the end of the school year. Then I could spend the summer doing rewrites and edits and then take it from there ("take it from there" could mean anything from trying to get an agent to letting it collect e-dust on my hard drive). I have absolutely no-expectations in terms of what would ever happen to the finish product, but I do know I want to finish it completely- I've put in far too much time and work to not. I'll probably ask a few trusted honest (but nice) friends to read it and get their take on whether or not I should move forward.

When people find out that I've done this, they always want to know what it's about, and I'm always really hestitant to talk about it. There are some autobiographical tendencies, but there's also some things that are a little far out there that could maybe be misconstrued out of context (including the main premise for the book). And I am nervous that people may assume that I am the main character; I am not. As I said, there are similarities, like the fact that the girl is a teacher and has to experience the death of her father, but there are so many differences as well. For example, I can assure you that I've never, ever have had sex with a custodian. Nor have I ever considered lying to anyone about their dog dying so that I could keep it. My siblings and I weren't named after geographical locations, and my sister and I never get in screaming matches that end up in violence (well, at least not as adults). And the premise for the plot- well, that's a whole other conversation that just may end up in people thinking I'm ethically challenged (or in need of medication).

I'm glad I did it- NaNoWriMo gave me the push I needed in the right directions. I've needed a challenge and some stimulation lately; this came at the perfect time. But, I do have to admit- I'm ready for some distance from my little project for awhile. There are some things in my life I've been neglecting and look forward to getting back to.

The Last 10,000

Done, a day early. There is no way, after writing nearly 10,000 words today, that I can write for one minute longer, but I pinky promise there will be follow up soon. I'm sure you can't wait.

Top Ten Tuesday- Fresh Meat

The Broke and the Bookish are requesting our top ten for 2013 (confession- mine are just unpublished, so a few come out in December). Mine:

1.  Bad Haircut, Stories from the Seventies by Tom Perotta (December 11, 2012)

2. Night Film by Marisha Pessl (August 20, 2013; supposedly)

3. Little Wolves by Thomas Maltman (January 8, 2013)- A literary murder mystery set during a drought in the midwest.

4. White Dog Fell From the Sky  by Eleanor Lincoln (January 3, 2013)- A medical student must flee from South Africa after seeing a murder; he ends up a gardener in Botswana. 

5. Amor by Isabel Allende (January 29, 2013)- Fine, fine it's in Spanish, but that just means there will be an English version at some point.

6. Indiscretion by Charles Dubow (February 5, 2013)- A writer and his wife end up involved with a "hanger on" one summer.

7. Ways of Going Home by Alejandro Zambra (January 8, 2013)- This book seems really interesting, the narration switching between writer and character and past and present. It starts off when a nine-year-old Chilean boy meets a young woman during the aftermath of an earthquake, and then later becomes involved with Pinochet. 

8. The Antagonist by Lynn Coady (January 22, 2013)- A man learns that an old friend has made him, and his troubles, the antagonist of his novel.

And that's all I could come up with; even this is the result of way too much time scouring Amazon's unreleased section. The process was actually quite disappointing; so many of my favorite authors came out with books this year that I'm assuming next year will be a little dry. But, you never know- I think most publishers haven't really started releasing their spring catalog information yet.

And worse comes to worse I catch up on the many, many I have already.

The Biblio-Mat

An old friend just shared this awesome video (and idea!) with me on Facebook. According to Vimeo,

"The Biblio-Mat is a random book dispenser built by Craig Small ( for The Monkey’s Paw, an idiosyncratic antiquarian bookshop in Toronto. Biblio-Mat books, which vary widely in size and subject matter, cost two dollars. The machine was conceived as an artful alternative to the ubiquitous and often ignored discount sidewalk bin. When a customer puts coins into it, the Biblio-Mat dramatically whirrs and vibrates as the machine is set in motion. The ring of an old telephone bell enhances the thrill when the customer’s mystery book is delivered with a satisfying clunk into the receptacle below."

100 Things

Now that the end of the semester is slowly approaching my students are graveling for extra credit- they'd probably wash my car or do my laundry if I'd let them. Instead, I told them that they could give me a list of 100 things they were thankful for, and it could be both fun and serious. And let me tell you, I definitely got both! There were the standard "my family," "my friends," "God," and "living in the US," but a whole of entertaining ones too. I had a kid thankful for Scottish people, someone fond of 7-11 (understandable), another for frozen grapes. Zippers, lint rollers, bobby pins, Doctor Who, teeth, toilet paper, and Google also made a few lists. 

It was really interesting to read their lists, and they got me thinking. What would me 100 things be? Tis the season (or something like that):

In no particular order...

1. My husband
2. Cordie and Chomsky
3. My family, despite the fact they refuse to move closer...
4. My job
5. My husband's job
6. That I have a house I'd be okay living in for the rest of life
7. Self-serve frozen yogurt
8. The Yoga Den- raising prices, kooky instructors and all
9. A woman's right to choose (for the next four years, anyway)
10. Our kick-ass tax lady
11. My friends, both near and far
12. Happy hours
13. That we finally decided where to go for our annual vacation
14. Netflix
15. My books
16. That I've gotten to travel to a few really awesome places
17. My double ovens
18. My stifling sense of fiscal responsibility
19. The IB program, both as a student and a teacher
20. My ability to blog, and those that read it
21. My passport
22. Anthropologie 
23. My education
24. Colleagues that have become friends
25. The non-spicy salsa from Tom's Farms
26. My health
27. That they make cute glasses now
28. That I'm not homophobic, racist, or ignorant
29. My Amazon Visa card
30. My iPhone
31. The internet 
32. More and more ways to help the environment
33. Gum
34. My security alarm (piece of mind!)
35. That NaNoWriMo has got me writing more than ever
36. My treadmill
37. Ice cream
38. That I live close enough to LA to go to readings
39. My Fossil work bag that has lasted seven years and counting
40. That my husband didn't care if I didn't change my name
41. The low interest rate on my students loans
42. That I live somewhere safe
43. My ability to vote
44. Apples
45. Toms
46. Caffeine Free Diet Coke
47. Our pool
48. Pedicures
49. The FDA
50. BB Cream
51. My laptop
52. The teacher's union (yup... sorry!)
53. That my mom still lives in the house I grew up in
54. Target
55. Yosemite National Park
56. Automatic billing
57. Email
58. Thunderstorms
59. The ability to plan things to look forward to 
60. Amazon (as in the e-store, not the rainforest)
61. The feeling you get when you climb into bed after a long day
62. The freedom to read whatever I want
63. The Gilmore Girls
64.  My photo albums
65. My doctor and her amazing PA that will call me back instantly
66. Siblings with shared interests
67. Facebook (gotta stay in touch somehow)
68. Pajama pants
69. Peanut butter and chocolate
70. Health insurance
71. The ability to try new things and go new places
72. That my husband isn't a Republican (I had a dream he was- not good)
73. LEGO videogames
74. That I have the freedom to believe in who, or what, I want to
75. My three teaching credentials. Job security, baby
76. Floss
77. Airplanes
78. That my grandparents let me live with them for three years during college
79. That my wedding was exactly what I wanted it to be
80. Both my dogs being completely house-broken
81. A reliable vehicle (knock on wood)
82. That Prop. 30 passed here in California
83. That eReaders haven't completely knocked out print
84. Air conditioning
85. The opportunity to run over the Golden Gate Bridge
86. Things usually turning out okay in the end; despite the anxiety that comes first
87. Tequila
88. It's It (they're ice cream sandwiches for you poor unknowing souls)
89. Problem solving before panicking
90. The ability to hike
91. Ample food, and the luxury of choice
92. That I'm allowed to be independent and married simultaneously
93. Grey's Anatomy (I'm sorry I'm not sorry)
94. My sewing machine
95. Shazaam (seriously)
96. Our whole house fan
97. A fantastic hair stylist
98. That I was given the opportunity to advise yearbook (most days, anyway)
99. That while my feet constantly hurt, they can still move
100. Cocoa Puffs

Hope everyone has a fantastic Thanksgiving. I'll be cooking for eighteen, so we'll see how it goes...

Top Ten Tuesday- Thankful

The Broke and the Bookish ask us this week the ten authors that we are most thankful for:

Authors That Always Write Books I Love

1. TC Boyle (Tortilla Curtain, When the Killing's Done)

2. Nick Horny (High Fidelity, How to Be Good, Juliet, Naked)

3. Jonathan Safran Foer (Eating Animals, Everything is Illuminated)

4. Gary Shteyngart (The Russian Debutante's Handbook, Absurdistan)

Authors That My Students Enjoy (ie Authors That Make Teaching Easier)

5. Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

6. Harper Lee (To Kill a Mockingbird)

7. Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Chronicle of a Death Foretold)

Authors That Provide Me With Plenty of Material to Hate On

8. Stephanie Meyer

9. Nicholas Sparks

10. EL James

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts

1. I'm loving the titles my students are reading for outside reading- On the Road, Jane Eyre, Fight Club, V for Vendetta, House of the Spirits, The Great Gatsby, and How to Be Good, to name a few. I have several who are reading the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy right now too.  I'm waiting for the girls to get on the Anna Karenina kick after the movie comes out (I have a group that are really into period pieces). 

2. Please, for the love of God and all that is sacred in this world, please stop listening to holiday music, putting up your tree, and stocking up on wrapping paper. Calm the eff down, people! Thanksgiving isn't even until Thursday. You are totally falling victim to Target and Starbuck's mission to get you to spend as much as humanly possible. 

3. One of my students told me that her mom wanted to know if we were going to read anything "happy" this year. Nope, sorry. Not next year either. Welcome to the real world where everything isn't all rainbows and butterflies, kids.

[Source:; yes you can buy the kit for $12]

 4. I listened to A Prayer for Owen Meany through Audible and really enjoyed the experience. I thought the narrator was perfect and I loved the voice he did for Owen. I started Cloud Atlas about a month ago, since we were planning to see the movie (we have not) and I can't stand it. The narration is horribly dry and I just don't think it's a book that translates well audibly. 

5. I really, really love Passion Pit. It's basically impossible for me to get into my car and not listen to them

6. I think I have a girl crush on Erin Andrews. Between the World Series and the UCLA vs USC game last weekend I feel like I've been seeing her quite a bit of her lately, and her attractiveness and knowledge of sports makes her quite the catch. 

7. I've been reading (and I use the term loosely) Zadie Smith's Changing My Mind for weeks and I feel quite guilty, since I've finished two or three novels since I started it. There is a certain mood required for reading essays, and I have not been in it lately.

8. Speaking of novels, I've finished Tell the Wolves I'm Home and Vaclev and Lena these past couple of weeks and enjoyed them both. Reviews to come. Get excited. Yay.  

An Infestation

By the end of the day today my classroom was totally and completely infested... with Gregors from The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka! For the past two books we've read I've assigned a creative culminating project, allowing the kids to bust out the hot glue and construction paper (better them than me). The practical part of me thinks that this is a slight waste of time, but the part of me that understands kids need to do more than just fill in bubbles and write essays loves it. For this book they were give three choices- write the prequel to the story, psychoanalyze Kafka, or make a replica of Gregor, along with a one page write up. I'd say about half the kids chose to make the bug, and I couldn't be more pleased with the results. Here are a few of my favorites:

The one in the upper left is even more awesome in person.

I hope his mom knows he stole her baskets... And yes, a cake!

The one in the upper right was brought to class via skateboard.

The one in the bottom right was made of an old sweater and soda bottles!

I think what I really love, besides the imagination, is the fact that there are so many interpretations as to what the bug looks like (that is if you believe that Gregor really is a bug). Some of the kids were more on top of the contextual clues, while some chose to ignore the book and our discussions, taking creative license.

And now I have to grade the little suckers so I have counter space again. 

NaNoWriMo Update #2

[yes, this looks like shit]
As of today, 13 days in, I should be approximately 21,666 words into NaNoWriMo. Instead, I have only written 15,013 (38 pages, by the way). Despite being nearly 7,000 words (or 4 days) behind, I'm actually quite pleased with my progress. Last week, at day 6, I was only 5,000 words in, so statistically I've improved in the past seven days. Plus, this is the most I have ever written in terms of fiction before, so I'll take it.

Thoughts from this week:

- I've finally got a lot of things established in terms of plot and charcters, so I feel like the ball has gotten rolling.

- Providing the reader with back-story that doesn't sound blatant can be time consuming. I firmly believe that the setting should tell you a lot about a character, as well as their actions, rather than a list of characteristics. Sometimes that easier said than done.

- Writing sex scenes is hard. I don't want to be ike "and then he stuck it in her hot-" or "and then she grabbed his big giant-" but on the other hand I don't want to take the PG route and end the scene with a shirt dropping and a door shutting. I don't plan on there being copious amounts of sex, but it's a natural, human act that has it's place in literature... if done correctly.

- I'm enjoying what I'm doing; sitting down to write doesn't seem like a chore, whether it's a day where I'm just writing a few hundred words or a few thousand.

- I don't write on Fridays, as my little chart to the right shows. Last week it was happy hour, and the week before it was something else. Maybe this week I'll break the trend.

-  I'm finding the more I write the more I want to talk about my story. The only person that knows anything about it whatsoever is my husband, but knowing him, and considering that the last time I mentioned the topic was years ago, he's probably forgotten. One blog I recently read (I can't remember which one!) dropped hints here and there in her posts, which I've considered. We'll see. 

By next Tuesday, when I hopefully update again, I should be over 33,000 words, meaning I need to more than double what I have right now.

Top Ten Tuesday- Just In Case Sawyer's Not There

The Broke and the Bookish are asking us this week to decide what ten books we'd like to take with us on a deserted island. I'd like to get two things out of the way, the first being I feel like I've done this list before. I'm too lazy to hunt around for it, but the topic just feels very familiar... The second is that I really wouldn't want to take book to a deserted island because I am 110% confident that Sawyer would be there and, frankly, no books would be needed. 

Just in case I ended up on, like Lesbian Island (which would be absolutely fine, I just might have some extra free time I wasn't planning on), I might want some books. And here are the ones I'd need:

1. The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank- Wait, this won't prevent me from starving? What? Forget it.

2. Fold a Banana and 146 Other Things to Do When You're Bored by Jim Erskine- I have a feeling there's a lot of downtime when you're stranded on a deserted island. While there may not be access to bananas, I'm sure some of the other ideas will work.

3. The Mammoth Book of Soduku- 400 New Puzzles by Nathan Hasslebauer- Again, the downtime. I'm not great at soduku, but I don't hate it. This would definitely suck up some time, since each one would take me at least an hour.

4. House of Leaves by Mark Danielewski- I've never read it but my husband says good things. As a piece of experimental fiction, it seems like something that would require a lot of thought and careful reading. And, who knows- maybe the book will actually teach me how to make shelter (badadada- but seriously folks).

5. Camp Cooking by the National Museum of Forest Service History- I pride myself in being a somewhat competent cook, but that's only because I have access to the internet and Trader Joe's. Hopefully this book can help me make a tasty Foliage Stew or Squirrel Tacos.

6. SAS Survival Guide 2E: For Any Climate, For Any Situation by John Wiseman- This book will tell you what is safe to eat, how to tie knots, how to track animals (I suppose I'll have to start eating meat again), and how to use plants for medicine.

7. Voodoo Hoodoo Spellbook by Denise Alvarado- Just in case people come on my island and start messing with my things. It will only be used for emergency situations, not just to get revenge on all the assholes on the mainland that aren't rescuing me.

8.  In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust- I have no idea what this is about, I just know that at 7 volumes and 4,211 pages it is the longest novel ever. That could buy me some time.

9. How to Commit Suicide in 10 Easy Steps by K.J. Rolling- You guys, I'm not sure how long I'm going to be able to take the island life. If Sawyer was there then probably a few months, but alone? I just don't know. By the way- isn't the author a tad familiar sounding?

10. How to Build Wooden Boats by Edwin Monk- I've put together countless Ikea Billy Bookcases, I'm sure I can hand a little boat. 

Until next time...

Learning and Whatnot

[Powell Library, UCLA; Source: my own]
Today I went back to my old stomping grounds, UCLA, to run/walk a rivalry week 5k with my sister. It was such a blast to run around the building where I spent hours of my life, including my beloved Powell Library. And somehow later in the day I ended up at UCI (University of California, Irvine), another campus near and dear to my heart (I attended a science program there one summer in high school, spent many weekends there with an ex-boyfriend, and drove down to visit one of my sisters there when she briefly attended). And while I was there I probably said a million times "I want to go back to college."

I think more than anything, and I've written about it before, I just want to learn about things I care about. No offense to my profession, but I don't have a crazy passion to learn about education at this moment. I've gone through the credentialing process, received my Master's, and have sat through countless hours of professional development. Learning how to become a more effecive teacher is great, and something I appreciate, but it's not the type of learning I feel compelled to do right now. 

When was the last time I felt like I was acquiring new, truly fascinating knowledge? When was the last time I felt compelled to seek out a substantial amount of information and immerse myself into it? When was the last time I boldly went where no man has gone before? Oh wait. 

I find it frustrating to not feel intellectually challenged or stimulated right now. What will I do about it? Between the five million papers I have to read and everything else I have (and choose... hello NaNoWriMo) to do? Probably not a lot. Maybe read another nonfiction book or watch a few documentaries to ease the irritation, but not much. And that- that hesitancy to take action- makes it even more frustrating. 

Nice Package

I'm not usually one for bells and whistles- I'm a simple kind of girl. But I do like books that come in unique packaging. Don't get me wrong; a quality book is a quality book, whether it's published with a simple cover or elaborately in a package. 

Part of the appeal to me is that it's a way the publishing industry is able to do something that cannot translate effectively into eReader format. It's a way to keep print alive and relevant. And there's something admirable about the whole notion of going "above and beyond;" extending the creativity graphically and physically is unnecessary but appreciated. 

Take anything by Visual Editions- I own Tree of Codes, Kapow, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman and Composition No. 1, all four of their books. There is no way in hell you could read these on a Kindle, as the actual layout and structure of the books themselves are as critical as the words.

[Composition No. 1]


[Source for all 3: Visual Editions]

Even my edition of Skippy Dies and Richard Russo's latest, Interventions, come with unique design that wouldn't be possible with an eReader. 

I've written abut Chris Ware's Building Stories before- his "graphic novel in a box." While I haven't read it yet, I have looked through it, and it's pretty damn awesome. 
[source: my own]

What can I say? I'm a girl who appreciates a nice package. 

Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts

[Give me a signnnnnn....]
1. Hey ya'll- Britney Spears is in talks with Harper Collins to write a novel- cue peals of laughter. Let me guess- it's going to be about a young girl who becomes a pop star, struggles with her fame, but ends up living happily ever after. Fingers crossed there's an umbrella attack. I seriously might buy it when it comes out to read while getting drunk. Take a shot everytime child protective services check on her kids, she shaves her head, or dates someone new! Better yet, I wonder if they'd let me ghostwrite it...

2. I'm running a 5k on Sunday at my alma mater, UCLA to start off rivalry week against USC. The proceeds go to the Special Olympics and my family will be in town so it will be run to go with my sister and brother. I have been running very little the past few months; summer is usually an off-season time, plus the whole burn out issue. I plan on doing some sort of run/walk ratio; you have an hour so I'm not worried. Honestly, I'm just going so I can stop at Diddy Riese in Westwood. I should probably read What I Talk When I Talk About Running by Murakami in order to get pumped.

3. My seventh period class, a group of students who are assigned an extra period for remedial purposes, have taken their CAHSEE test and need something besides test prep to do now. Today we started the novel A Lesson Before Dying by Ernest J. Gaines and they are all very interested. One of the more "challenging" kids declared, in all seriousness, "This is the best book I've read since Captain Underpants." He's a junior- this is a big deal. Two other kids confessed that they usually just stare at the book when supposed to read, but today they actually read themselves, or followed along when I did (I mix it up in terms of who reads/listens). The kids were engaged the whole period and actually participated in the discussion we had on the first two chapters. I'm amazed and excited.

4. Today I attempted to teach existentialism to my IB students; the day after the election on about 4.5 hours of sleep. I think I may have convinced them that they're now allowed to do whatever they want as long as they are being authentic. Oops.

5. I received More Baths Less Talking by Nick Hornby today, a collection of essays that came with the ticket to the reading I didn't go to a few weeks ago. I'm very thankful that Writer's Bloc sent it, but I am a little disappointed to have to add another book to my to-read list; I had gotten the number down to 46, which is a pretty substantial feat. And now we're back up to 47.

6. I'm currently read Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt and am absolutely enjoying it. The main character has lost her beloved uncle to AIDS in the eighties and must learn to cope. 

7. I am beyond grateful that Proposition 30 passed in California last night- as one of my students insightfully put it today it will "keep things bad and not let it get worse" in regards to education funding. Important it will prevent the governor from allowing districts to tack on fifteen additional furlough days, which would amount to massive paycuts and lost learning. 

8. I want this: 

NaNoWriMo Update #1

Well, almost a week into NaNoWriMo and I'm up to a little over 5,000 words- about 5,000 words behind. I completely anticipated this happening, and I fully plan on making up for lost time over the long weekend coming up, as well as the week I have off over Thanksgiving. Here are some thoughts so far on the process:

- My decision to map out some of the main things I wanted to hit in each chapter has proven to be incredibly valuable. I am struggling, though, with trying to ignore how long the chapters are, at least at this point. 

- Maintaining the mindset of "write now, edit later" has been going well, but I'm worried about the pile of shit that will be awaiting when I do go back to revise. 

- I'm trying really hard to craft a main character that is mostly likeable, while still allowing her to do some shitty things. For example, she is contemplating telling her long-distance boyfriend that his dog Frieda, who lives with her, is dead so she can break up with him and not risk him taking Frieda back. But she does nice things too, like- well, I'll get back to you on that.

- I have to keep reminding myself that 50,000 words does not equal a novel; 50,000 is basically half a novel. This means I'm about 5% done. 

Off to watch the election coverage. Maybe I'll write during commercials.

Top Ten Tuesday- Child Names

The Broke and the Bookish are once again giving us a freebie, so I decided to go with the Top Ten Character Names I'd Potentially Name My Child. 

And no, I'm not pregnant (you get to a certain place in life and you have to include this statement when you say anything referencing offspring). And none of these names are actually on the potential table, I just like them. That's it. So get off my back already. 

1. Atticus from To Kill a Mockingbird*

2. Celie from The Color Purple

3. Calliope from Middlesex*

4. Benjamin from the Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving*

5. Lulu from Lulu Meets God and Doubts Him

6. Claire from The Piano Teacher and The Beautiful Ruins

7. Tucker from Juliet, Naked

8. Sebastian from The House of Tomorrow

9. Helena from Midsummer's Night Dream*

10. Emma from Emma

*particular favorites 

The Great Pseudonym Conundrum

Nom de Plume by Carmela Ciurau (want to read)
I've always fantasized about being able to make writing novels my career- I'd quit my day job eventually and then travel the country on book tours while wearing the extensive Anthropologie wardrobe I'd then be able to afford. I'd be invited to sit on panels at book festivals, asked to contribute articles to smart magazines, and eventually some small, local liberal arts college would take me on as a part-time English professor (hear that, Claremont McKenna?).

In the midst of these silly, far-fetched day dreams is always the question of whether or not I'd publish under my real name or a pseudonym. Such the pretend conundrum! My first instinct is to always keep it honest. If the novel is a success you'd want everyone to know it was you who were responsible for such literary genius. Take that ex-boyfriend! Suck it, snotty super-smart girl from high school! Revel in my awesomeness, world! And, I have to say (with absolutely no experience whatsoever to base this on) that it's important to own up to your failures too. If the book is bashed you have to accept the criticism, not hide behind the safety of a name that isn't yours. 

But, on the other hand, pseudonyms offer vital protection in terms of your personal and professional lives. Not that authors generally acquire celebrity status, but what if the checker at Target is an avid reader and wants to chat about [insert novel title here] while you're trying to buy your underwear and toilet bowl cleaner? Plus, as a teacher I'm not sure whether my district, or union, would appreciate the content of the novel I'm currently working on. Plus, what would the students and their parents think? I realistically would have to keep the day job for awhile, so yes, their opinion on having a snarky, controversial author around their kids each day would matter.

Another important question- what would the pseudonym be? Is there a formula like there is for stripper names (first pet name + street where you grew up; I'd be Raven Countryside Lane, for those wondering)? How awkward would it be to be called something else? I'm very attached to my name, refusing to change it when I got married, so for me this is a tad unsettling. 

Obviously, this isn't an issue. And if I don't get back to my NaNoWriMo project it never will be. Check out the chart on the right bar to see my progress (or lack there of). And I promise I'm not delusional- I know that not only are my chances of finishing a full-blown novel slim, but my odds of publishing are next to nothing. 

And I'm okay with that.