Saturday, January 22, 2011

How gluten really screwed us this week

Our new gluten-free pantry, except for my Clif Bars (just 
couldn't let those go yet.) We found out this week that my 
youngest daughter and wife are intolerant of gluten. So, 
We're now a gluten-free family at home.  

This week was a bit hot and cold for word counts. While I still have tomorrow to increase my word count total, I think I’ll still be under my count for last week. I still passed what I think is my halfway point in the story, so that was a huge accomplishment and I really want to celebrate it, but at the moment I’m not feeling motivated to write. I spent I good three and a half hours last night trying to play catch up on my lack of writing much most of the week.

I got in some words every day last week – just not that many.  The culprit of my demise?


Yep, that stuff really threw a wrench into my world.

On Tuesday we found out that our youngest daughter has Celiac Disease, which means she is very much intolerant of gluten. Gluten is in just about everything, but you’d most commonly find it in wheat, barley and rye – so just about everything. Her test showed she was off-the chart in regard to gluten intollerance. My wife also showed high levels of intolerance.

So, Tuesday night we went gluten-free as a family. Cross contamination is such a big deal that I can’t reasonably keep things in the house that might make my youngest daughter and wife sick. While my older daughter and myself haven’t been tested, I don’t think we really have any issues to worry about. Regardless, we’re going gluten-free at the house. That doesn’t mean I won’t visit a Subway 6-inch on wheat now and then, but at least at home, it’s out.

I donated seven bags of unopened packaged food to the Second Harvest food bank in downtown Spokane on Wednesday at lunchtime. Then spent  $50 on one bag of groceries at Huckleberries on the South Hill. One bag.

My reading has transitioned to gluten free too. I need to know about this stuff to keep my daughter’s digestive system in proper working order. I have no issue with that – it’s just a lot to learn. My wife is now an expert.

I’ve lost about 2 pounds this week – and it certainly isn’t because I’m going to the gym.  Although we did make it to the YMCA one night for a quick workout with all the people still sticking to their New Year’s resolutions. I expect the gym will thin out by mid-February, when those people fall off the wagon. Maybe the gluten free diet (at least at home) might be a healthy change. We’ll see.

It’s been an adventure this week when it comes to meal time, but its an important shift and its certainly not about me, its about the health of my wife and daughter. So, gluten, we will defeat you. Or at least avoid you. You’re a sneaky little jerk too.

Enough procrastinating, back to the grind. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Passed 30,000 words today – and its my birthday

This week has been typical for writing. I got around 7,000 words out on paper and was able to write five out of seven days. The days I skipped were because life just got in the way, which isn’t to say that it was a bad thing.

Today’s my birthday, so I’m celebrating by letting you know that I passed 30,800 words this afternoon.

Two interesting things happened this week that make me glad I’m in the middle of the process of writing my first book.  The first is that I wrote a scene that I didn’t think I needed and I really loved it. I was sure afterward that it was necessary for the book. Then when I read back over the previous chapter, I knew I needed to move it around a bit in the order of events. I moved it up a bit and it fit perfectly. It felt really good. Celebrating these little achievements is really what is keeping me going.

The second thing happened today. My daughter Allison came into the room I was writing in and in typical first-grader fashion she started talking about a thousand different topics. I tried to pay attention, but I was in the middle of some heavy dialog in the book and my mind was elsewhere. As soon as I stopped to listen, she was interested in what I was doing.

She read aloud three lines on the page I was working on. She needed a little help on some of the bigger words, but it was pretty amazing to have your kid read your creation. She probably has already forgotten about it. I probably never will. My first audio book – sort of.  

I may dig in again tonight before bed, but for right now, I’m just happy to celebrate my small achievements. Still plugging away.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

So, what’s the book about?

It’s probably some sort of work in progress writer faux paux to discuss your current project, but blame my newness to this whole process – I want to talk about it. At least a little bit.

The novel I’m working on should fit into the category of popular fiction. It’s a thriller. It centers on the premise of what would happen if energy wasn’t delivered over power lines any longer, but replaced by something more efficient, but something that forces changes in our society and way of life. One individual gets caught in the middle of a power struggle between giants of industry.

That’s about all I should really say about it, but I wanted to at least get that out there because so many of my friends and co-workers have asked me what I’m working on. It’s definitely a fair question and I’d probably do the same if someone told me they were writing a book.

I’ve continued to slowly check off milestones as the first draft comes together. As of tonight I’ve written about 36% of my word count goal. I still don’t know if the word count method is really the right way to track my progress, but since I’ve never done this before I have to use something practical to tell myself that I’m well on my way. I’m not letting it tell me how many words to write about a particular subject or scene, so for now, its my gauge.

The outline is still in good shape, but I’ve moved a few sections up in the book because they just needed to come out earlier. I know my goal for the end and I’m working my way there. The characters are fun to write and I like getting inside the head of my little creations.

Finding names for people and places is an interesting challenge. If any writers out there have advice for how you select you names, let me know.

Back to a few hours of writing.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Why I'm writing a few hours at a time

In the fall of 2010 I finished reading an award winning novel, which will remain nameless. At the end of the book was a little interview with the author. Like any good reader, I wanted to gobble up everything I could about the book, so I read the interview. The author was a first class tool. I know that's not nice, but I have to be honest about it. If this guy can get his book written and published, then I really had no excuse for not finally trying myself.

I'd started and stopped writing no less than four novel projects over the past ten years. I tried getting up a 4 a.m. to write. I tried late a night. I tried starting with an idea and just hoping it would magically write itself. Needless to say those methods failed, miserably.

My self-promise to draft a novel by the time I turned 30 had passed by almost two years.

So at the end of October 2010, I started writing, but I didn't start with any words for the book. I started the outline. For a month I wrote and edited my story from beginning to end. Once I got to what I think was the end, I wrote character profiles for all of my little creations. I wanted to take away the guess work that had always stumped me in the past. Only then did I start writing the actual book.

To my surprise, it worked. Today I'm about 30% done with my first draft. While I know that I'm a hell of a long way from finishing this thing, I'm confident that I can do it. I'm a newbie to the publishing world an I have a lot to learn. I've started sharing my process on my @DanKolbet twitter account and on Facebook with friends.

I got the OK from my employer's legal department to ensure I wasn't working on something that could be considered a conflict of interest. That was a big step.

The only barriers in my way are in my head and time, thus the name of my blog "A few hours at a time." This refers to when I can fit my writing in. At work during lunch, on weekend mornings before being a parent starts. Late at night when I can still string together thoughts. I work full-time, so its not like I can ignore life, so "A few hours at a time" it is.

Welcome to my novel journey.