Lena Corazon

Flights of Fancy

ROW80: Writing Like a Fiend

Before I get to my update, I want to thank everyone who commented on Wednesday’s post. I didn’t quite realize how my story of finding community among this wonderful group of writers would resonate with so many people. Thank you for sharing your stories!

On the housekeeping front, wordpress.org users have finally been upgraded to the snazzy wordpress-run subscription widget. Since Feedburner’s been acting wonky, I’ve disabled it in favor of the WP one. You’ll see it on the right sidebar on the home page, and on the footer of each page. If email subscription is your thing, feel free to sign up. 🙂

Writing: This week has been a lot better than last week. I’m actively editing my thesis, so progress is being made on that end. Even better, I’ve broken out of my NaNo slump; at the time of writing this post, I’ve reached 33,687 words, which places me slightly ahead. I am writing, as my title suggests, like a fiend, embracing imperfection as fully as I can. By the end of the month, I’ll have the first layer of a novel that will need lots of TLC, and quite a bit of work, especially where world-building is concerned, but something is better than nothing!

I’d like to write another 1400 words or so before bed tonight, because I doubt that I’ll be able to write at all Monday or Tuesday. I’m on campus from 9 till 6 on Monday, and Tuesday I’m driving to San Francisco so I can spend Thanksgiving with my family. I am so unbelievably excited; all I want to do is load up my truck, hit the highway, and head north. No stopping, no looking back, no collecting $200 till I make it back to the Bay. 🙂

Exercise: This, friends, is where I have failed. I worked out 5 days this week, but I’m trying to undo some bad behavior from a couple weeks ago, when I was sick. During that time, I didn’t exercise because I was worried about my asthma flaring further. That would have been okay… if I hadn’t decided to buy a bag of ginger cookies from the store and devour them in a single weekend.

"No Cookies," by Mike R. Baker

Yeah, that’s me, face stuffed full of cookies. Needless to say, my pants are definitely tighter than they should be, and it’s sort of discouraging, because those same pants were starting to get loose just a few weeks ago.

I’ve had to make some difficult decisions regarding health and nutrition. I’ve been buying at least one bag of cookies, and/or bar of dark chocolate, and/or pint of ice cream each week since October, all with the promise that I would only eat a little bit at a time. Clearly, my self-control is non-existent. Until I can get to the point where having 1 cookie doesn’t turn into the entire damn bag, I’m banning myself from sugary things.

I keep trying to remember that I have succeeded at breaking these bad habits for longer than a week. It’s a hard transition, replacing candy with fruit, cookies with veggies, empty foods with healthy, filling ones. If anyone has any good suggestions for healthy snacks (I’ve got the 3 main meals covered, but snacks are my downfall), I would love to hear them.

Anyway, that’s it for me today! Be sure to swing by and check out how everyone else is doing this week. Also, stop by the Fun Not Fear! blog, where Em and I are hosting the weekly check-in thread. And, hey, while we’re at it, have a wee snippet from my NaNo tale, PATH TO THE PEACOCK THRONE.

Image: Photography by BJWOK / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I hate writing synopses, but here’s the basic gist: Liandre, the main character, was stolen from her birthplace 20 years before. Raised as the daughter of a king in a distant land, she learns of her true identity at the start of the novel. Her homecoming has been less than auspicious: her claim to the throne is challenged by one of the major political factions, isolationists who don’t take kindly to a “foreign” woman becoming queen. This scene is a snippet of Liandre’s first meeting with her mother since she was taken.


Simone slipped out of the room on silent feet, and shut the door behind her just as quietly. I was alone with my mother at last.

Mother. The word was foreign on my tongue. Once, when I was a little girl, I had tried to imagine what it would have been like to have a mother in addition to my beloved father. I dreamed of how she would love me and cosset me, tuck me in at bedtime, sing me precious lullabies. I had eventually grown out of those fantasies; what else could I do, believing my mother to be dead? But now here I was, sitting before her, and I had no idea where to start.

Here in the privacy of her chamber, there was little trace of her famed ferocity. She looked tired and gaunt, her shoulders hunched, face turned from mine. I could only imagine what she had endured during my absence, a queen beset by invaders and internal conflict, heartbroken over the abduction of her only child and heir.

Moved by a sudden surge of emotion, I reached out for her hand. An unexpected jolt went through me as our fingers brushed, and I swallowed back a sob. She must have felt it as well, for she started in surprise. We sat in silence for a long moment, hands linked, heads bowed.

When she spoke, her words were halting, abrupt. “Your journey. Was it agreeable?”

“It was… an adventure, to say the least.”

“Good.” There was another awkward pause as she pulled her hand from mine and turned away. “I knew you for my own the moment I saw you.” Her voice was harsh, fierce with barely-suppressed emotion. “How any could challenge your claim is beyond my ken.”

I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer. It had been my deepest fear that she would reject me, the same way the hecklers had challenged my identity during my formal reception, but she knew me. She was willing to claim me as her own, to love me, and in that moment it didn’t matter that the rest of the country seemed resolved to hate me. So long as I had her love, I could endure any challenge that came my way.

She brushed the tears from my cheek with gentle fingers. “The mark of our line is stamped upon your face, in the arch of your brow, the curve of cheek, the point of your chin. All will acknowledge it before long, I promise you.”

“Mother?” There, I had said it, and the warmth of her smile soothed the anxiety that thrummed through me.

Aya, you once called me.  It is a name that only children use, but…” Her hand trembled in mine. “Would you humor me, gosling?  When you come of age, I promise I will treat you like the woman you are.”

I tried the word once, twice, and then nodded, for this word fit better than any other. “Very well, Aya. I would be honored.”


  1. Congrats on your writing goals! You deserve a pompom cheer! Good luck on a powerful, albeit short, week!

    As far as nutritious snacks, I can’t help you. I can tell you that I started enjoying sugarfree candy – Russell Stover – and now I don’t feel deprived. They aren’t diet food, so I can’t eat the whole bag, but they’re perfect when I want just a little something sweet. Calorie count is minimal and I lost a LOT of weight doing it.
    Marji Laine recently posted..News and Update for ROW 80 – Special WordsMy Profile

  2. I was all excited thinking I’d be the first one to post on the Linky for today, but no, I was beat to it so I’ll settle for whatever I get.

    Wow, you’re doing your thesis and NaNo? That’s incredible. A million points for you (I love fake points).

    I don’t have any suggestions for the cookie issue, my family gets to the cookies before I get more than one. At least you realize where your downfall is, now to just get the will power to overcome habit and sugary goodness.

    Have a good Thanksgiving with your family. Try to keep working until you get to drive off for your much deserved break.
    asrai devin recently posted..I fail at plotting Row80 Checkin 11-20My Profile

  3. Lena,
    We all fail here and there from time to time. You are exercising almost every day of the week and I’m sure pretty soon those pants will get loose again 🙂

    Great job with NaNo and the thesis! Keep up a great job. Oh, I hate writing the synopsis too but you did a pretty good job with this one! And I love the snippet of Liandre and her mother meeting again.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
    Angela Orlowski-Peart recently posted..ROW80 Check-In Sunday, November 20, 2011My Profile

    • Thanks so much, Angela. I’m trying really hard to just not look into the mirror right now, and to know that it’ll come off again. And I’m glad to know that the synopsis makes sense! I seriously spent a ridiculous amount of time writing and rewriting — trying to pack so much into a sentence or two is one of the most challenging things ever. 😀

  4. Great check-in!

    Don’t feel too bad about the dietary slips, it happens to us all! As for alternative snacks, other than the obvious fruits (chilled grapes work well, sweet) what about marshmallows – good ones a virtually fat free and low calorie? and I like little jelly pots 🙂 although crisps are my big downfall! lol

    Enjoy your thanksgiving break 🙂
    Sharon Howard recently posted..If Life is a Rollercoaster then BPD is a Pinball Machine!My Profile

  5. I’m the same as you when it comes to sweet things. I’m dieting and, as i have no willpower, have had to cut out all chocolate which is my favourite thing in the world. If you’re freezing grapes, try freezing bananas too. Peel one and cut it in half (a whole frozen banana is way too much), put each half in a freezer bag and you’re good 🙂

    I love your excerpt. I can’t wait to one day read the whole thing 🙂
    Sarah Pearson recently posted..Stupid CommentsMy Profile

    • Oooh, frozen bananas sound delicious! I always have such a bad time with banans, because I don’t eat them quickly enough, they inevitably go bad, and because I live alone, I can’t turn them into banana bread (again with the willpower: I’ll eat it all myself). Frozen banana pops would definitely solve that problem.

      Thanks for the excerpt feedback, Sarah. This novel is going to take soooo much work, but it’ll be worth it. 🙂

  6. Whew, Lena. Reading all you’re doing makes me feel like a slug! Way to go! As for the munchies issue — sounds like stress eating to me? I do this when I feel overwhelmed, and with all on your calendar, that’s gotta be you, right? Maybe when you feel like a cookie, you could take a few minutes to de-stress and then see if you still want one afterward? Visualization works well for me (except when it doesn’t! Ha!).
    Diane Capri recently posted..“A Christmas Story”: Ralphie’s Perfect Gifting SecretMy Profile

    • Ohhhh, Diane, I think you might have just hit the nail on the head. I’m usually not this bad about snacking, but yes. Stress. I think that’s definitely it.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

  7. great excerpt – very envious you have something so polished my words from nano will need skads of work before they see light of day – I’m not looking! you have had a good week – cant help on the nibbles i’m afraid the only way i can keep nibbles down is not to have any – even fruit i can over eat on and all that sugar! no self control so have to give them up – you have my sympathy for what it’s worth

    all the best for coming week

    • The only reason why this excerpt sounds polished is because I spent something like 4 hours trying to make it sound pretty, lol. Everything else is actually pretty horrendous, and I’m trying not to think about the mountain of work that will need to be done to make it actually readable once I’m through. But that’s what December is for. 😉

      Have a wonderful week!

  8. I don’t know if this will help you or not…but here goes. I never – er, yep, I said never – deny myself a sugary snack when I want it. If I do, then I end up eating an entire cake or something ridiculous. So, I totally have a sweet thing after each meal – even breakfast!
    I do not eat milk chocolate. I eat dark – minimum of 60% cocoa. I prefer 70% or above. It’s good for you.
    Eat cinnamon. Studies show that those who eat a breakfast that includes cinnamon ate significantly less calories over the day. I put cinnamon in rice, oatmeal, on toast, and in my tea.
    I eat a lot of popcorn. I love it! And…I can chew on something with that crunch I love without loading up on fat.
    I also love pretzel sticks – Rold Gold – they’re the most buttery tasting.
    I also bargain with myself…ha. If I want a piece of banana cream pie..I eat it. Then I will make a vegetable dinner.

    I hope that helps you out. That’s the crazy thing – what works for me may not work at all for you – and vice-versa. I’m sure you’ll get lots of great ideas, though!
    Nadja Notariani recently posted..Sublime…My Profile

    • Oooh, these are great ideas, Nadja. I’ve started adding cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice to my morning oatmeal, and in the fruit smoothies that I make as well. And, oh gosh, one day I’ll let myself eat dark chocolate again. I used to be really good at limiting myself to 1 or 2 squares in a day, and suddenly I found myself devouring the entire bar in a day. As Diane mentioned above, I think stress definitely has something to do with it, so I’m going to take some time off from sugar, and hopefully reintroduce it to my diet gradually, once I’m sure I can handle things. 🙂

  9. Great week! That’s an awesome word count for NaNo. Props to you for working on it while also doing your thesis. Talk about head spinning, lol.

    Ugh on the cookies and what not. I simply can’t have them in the house or I will eat them. I have no willpower, plain and simple.

    Keep up the good work!
    Stacy Green recently posted..Row80 Check In 11-20-11My Profile

    • Thanks, Stacy, and I’m glad to see that I’m not the only one who struggles with willpower. I’ll be going home to my parents’ for a month in December, which is good — my mom has a strict, zero-tolerance policy on cookies, so I won’t have anything around to tempt me. 🙂

  10. Aww Lena, I loved the excerpt – a very touching moment between the two of them! I can’t wait to read the whole thing! I too am jealous of your polish LOL – I wouldn’t dare show any part of mine right now.

    As far as snacks go, I keep around granola bars, bananas, baby carrots..anything really that I can just grab and throw in my bag while running out the door. Lots of times when you think you’re hungry, you’re actually thirsty so I keep water with me too. Any real snacks like cookies etc, I actually divide the bag as soon as I get home. Then I can take a reasonable portion without having the box there taunting me 😀 And during NaNo, I’ve chewed lots of gum. You’ll get it, don’t you worry!! After you’ve had healthy snacks for awhile, your taste buds go back to normal and you don’t want the super sweets as often, so it can only get easier 😀 Have a fantastic week!!!
    Lauren Garafalo recently posted..Countdown in NanolandMy Profile

    • Yay, I’m so glad you like the excerpt! And as I mentioned to Alberta above, this is definitely NOT what the rest of the novel looks like right now. It took almost 4 hours to get this snippet to actually read properly, so you can just imagine what the rest looks like. :p

      These are all great ideas! I always forget about granola bars, and I’m sososo bad about baby carrots — I buy them and then they sit in the fridge because when I peek inside, I decide that they don’t sound very appetizing and pick something else instead. I also realized that I haven’t been drinking water, like, at all, so I think that’s also part of the problem. 😀

      Have a wonderful week!

  11. Great job, ROWsis! I’m so impressed with your ability to keep all those chainsaws in the air. I love the excerpt–you’ve expressed the emotions so well, as L.S. said.

    As for the sweet tooth, Lauren has some great advice, some of which I do–lots of water, because I often think I’m hungry when I’m thirsty, and the handy snacks so one has something better to turn to when faced with the vending machines at the library.
    Nadja has a good point, too. I keep some little candies handy–not many, but enough to satisfy the sweet tooth when it really won’t leave me alone. Total denial doesn’t work for me, but as Lauren says, eventually you don’t want the sweets as much anymore.

    Have a wonderful week preparing for Thanksgiving with your family, my dear!
    Elizabeth Mitchell recently posted..The Professional Good Girl: Early Life and TrainingMy Profile

    • Ack, you’re right — this really DOES feel like juggling chainsaws. I have to say, I will be incredibly grateful when winter break gets here, and I have a chance to breathe a little.

      Thanks so much for the feedback on the excerpt, ROWsis. Getting those emotions right was really important to me, because this is such a pivotal scene in the book.

      I’ll be investing in some mini-snacks, methinks, that I can have around the house. I spend so much time at home these days, because I’m not on campus that often, and it’s so easy to just reach for the nearest thing (the bag of cookies/box of chips) and start munching. I may have to make myself baggies of snacks to make it easier. 😉

  12. You are so remarkably supportive of everyone…. and your confession about lack of exercise REALLY hits home. I wish I was bold enough to insist upon having an exercise goal. After Thanksgiving I look forward to more #wordsprints with you AND thank you so much for commenting on my check in! I appreciate it!
    Julie Jordan Scott recently posted..Writing and #ROW80 ing Differently – Check in November 20, 2011My Profile

    • Aww, thanks Julie! I didn’t have an exercise goal last round, and I’m glad that I added it in. It helps so much to be able to post about it, even during the weeks when I haven’t done what I need to do. It’s good to have everyone’s support, because when I sit alone with it, I basically tear myself apart with guilt — not a healthy sort of thing. :/

      Thanks for stopping by!

  13. Great work with your goals Lena! Wonderful excerpt.

    If you like to cook/bake at all, I have recipe going up on Thanksgiving that is a snack staple in our home.

    Best of luck with the upcoming week.
    Raelyn Barclay recently posted..Sunday Summary, #ROW80, & #NaNoWriMoMy Profile

  14. Lovely lovely excerpt and in a relieved way I am glad you took some time to polish this and words don’t pour from you like this…I would be insanely jealous if they did!!!

    I am glad you have had a better writing week and great word count! I love the idea of your story and can’t wait to read more! I feel you pain with the biscuits…I am the same! Enjoy the few days before Thanksgiving and I am glad you get to go home and see your family soon!
    Em recently posted..ROW80 Check-in Sunday 20th NovemberMy Profile

    • Oh god, no, this DEFINITELY had lots and lots of work happen to it, haha. I’m so glad you enjoyed it, though; it does feel good to polish up my drivel and see that there might be a gem or two hiding within. 😉

      Have an excellent week as well, my dear! So glad we got to sprint today!

  15. Wow, I’m impressed, you seem to be achieving a lot and would say you well deserve little rewards and its natural for the body have its good and bad days.

    Your writing has a wonderful energy and vibrancy that is compelling and I’m not surprised you have such lovely followers and online friends, I love how this kind of way of expressing ourselves attracts and motivates someting similar in others that is shared and offered as support.

    Have a wonderful roadtrip and a fabulous Thanksgiving and all the best for the novel and the thesis.
    Claire recently posted..Slaves and Siblings, Sorcery and Sadness, Strength and SalvationMy Profile

  16. You’re doing so much, you have to forgive yourself when the diet goes. No point in looking back at the past, just toward the future. I know I have recently realized that I need to get back on track with cooking at home, avoiding snacks and exercising. I’m definitely building work-outs into my goals for ROW80 next round. 🙂
    J.R. Pearse Nelson recently posted..Round of Words UpdateMy Profile

  17. Very good check-in. I’ll ignore the bit about the cookies because I do the same thing. Potato chips are even worse. I have no self control when it comes to either. Enjoy your visit with family. It sounds wonderful. And thank you for sharing a snippet of your writing. It’s beautiful.
    Wendy recently posted..#Row80 11/20 & #NaNoWriMoMy Profile

  18. I just ate a cookie before I read this. But I’m a guy, so I guess perception has much to do with it. By the way, working out does not guarantee size reduction since we gain muscle mass in exchange for losses in other areas. Something to consider.

    Great check in and you are rocking it fantastically in the writing department. I hope your time home later this week will refresh and recharge you. Have a super week, Lena 🙂
    Gene Lempp recently posted..ROWdate 11-20My Profile

  19. Oh, man. If it’s any consolation, ginger cookies are awesome and I can’t blame you a bit, Lena. Lately, my roommate and I have discovered that our snacky foods last a LOT longer now that we’ve put them in a cupboard that we don’t often much. Out of sight, out of mind, that sort of thing. So far, it’s working well for us, but we still have a stash just in case.

    I love the snippet from your WIP! It was just so touching and well-written, it almost made me regret that almost all of my characters in two of my big WIPs are practically orphans, lol. And the book sounds great, too. I love a good political intrigue, and not just because I’m working on one myself, too.

    Fantastic work on your goals, too. It’s always nice to be a little ahead! And I hope your travels go safely and you have a fantastic Thanksgiving, Lena!
    L.S. Engler recently posted..RoW80 Check-In: November 20th!My Profile

  20. Heh, my big temptation is *salty* stuff. Easy for me to stop at a single cookie, but a bag of chips? My answer is to only buy chips as a very occasional treat, maybe once a month. Haven’t yet figured out a way to be disciplined. :/

    Kudos for being able to work on thesis and fiction at the same time – and be so productive! Back in the day when I was trying to juggle both, I never got more than a chapter of fiction written a month.

    Have a great week and wonderful holidays!
    Ruth Nestvold recently posted..How Much Blog is Enough Blog? Or; how I doubled my fiction output in just one month!My Profile

  21. Congrats on your word goals. As for the exercise, you’re slightly ahead of me. *cough* I need to get back to doing it a couple times a week.
    Nellie recently posted..Row and NaNo – Check inMy Profile

  22. Bumper post from you Lena! I’m been on a sugar diet too… been full of a cough, and lacking energy so mainlining chocolate. This is bad, but it appears to have a beneficial effect on my productivity, so perhaps I can be a fat writer or a healthy person! Jumping in a truck to drive back to San Francisco just sounds cool – like you live in a film. Have a great Thanksgiving and well done on your Nano goals!
    Margaret (charitygirlblog) recently posted..To BANG or whisper – what makes a good first line?My Profile

  23. I am dittoing everyone else–congrats on all your accomplishments, which sound like a ton! You’ll work out the pants thing too! 🙂
    Coleen Patrick recently posted..How to Blog using the Turducken MethodMy Profile

  24. Fantastic success on writing – woot woot! The rest will come but it does take time. I find the food choies sooo hard!! I know I need to give up salt and sugar treats but…yikes! Stick with it…you’ll get there!
    LOVE the snippet of the scene. OMG. I just wanted to keep reading. Wow!
    Natalie recently posted..Tea steeping is an art formMy Profile

  25. Wow, you’re a machine! I’m also trying to kick a sugar habit. I JUST bought the book, “Beat Sugar Addiction Now” and it’s really good. Good luck!
    Teresa Owen recently posted..The Most Incredibly Optimistic Words Ever UtteredMy Profile

  26. Wow Lena, girl you’ve got a lot going on. Glad to see that you get a break this week!

    Don’t focus on the failures and keep moving forward. It looks and sounds like you’re doing great.

    I hope that you come back from your family visit refreshed. 🙂
    Karen McFarland recently posted..Reality Bites!My Profile

  27. -tugs at waistband- What’s killing me is all these Holiday treats coming out!! My mind goes but we haven’t had these in a year, and then I promptly convince myself I’ll behave and eat them slowly… And then devour the whole bag. -sigh- I should probably take a page out of your book and ban the sweets till I find my self-control again.

    Good luck with your NaNo, I hope you manage to catch up soon!
    Sadie Hart recently posted..Happy Birthday Moose!My Profile

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