NaNoWriMo Update: Losing Steam



Word count as of today: 41,006 (out of 50,000)

I’ve fallen behind on my NaNoWriMo schedule.  The past few days were filled with several events that kept me away from computers for a majority of the day and I wasn’t able to meet my goal of 5 pages per night.  I have a lot of catching up to do.  I’ve also been engrossed in several projects, professionally and academically, which of course have to take precedence.  I know it’s cliche, but there really aren’t enough hours in a day to do all of the things I need to do!

I’m satisfied with the work I’ve produced thus far however.  Every day something new happens that I can add to my story and make it authentic. What I’m hoping arises from this project is how amazing people really are.  The amount of resilience, kindness and power people have offered during this tragic time is truly astounding.  It’s been almost five weeks since the storm hit but for many, their lives are starting to get back to normal thanks to help from others.  People just want to help, and I, along with those in more need, are eternally grateful for this.  It has really restored within me a sense of hope and acknowledgement that yes, there are assholes out there but when the time calls for it, people really band together and make good.

So I have to be more diligent about my work and try to cram in a page or two whenever I get a free moment.  I’d really like to make a significant dent in this project just to prove to myself that I am capable of writing something cool within a short amount of time.  Whether or not this goes on to be published, I don’t know, but at least I’ll be able to say to myself “You did it!  Congratulations!” and maybe buy myself a drink.

Have you had any trouble with your NaNoWriMo process?  What have you done to remedy the situation?

NaNoWriMo Update: Chugging Along…


I can’t believe November is halfway through basically!  Thanksgiving is NEXT WEEK hot damn.  So only a few more days left of NaNoWriMo!  How is everyone else coming along?

I’m about 50 pages/27,243 words in.  Which means I have at least 125 pages to go.  It’s tougher than I thought, but only because I missed the first two-three days due to Hurricane Sandy.  I’m going to try and make those days up as much as I can but if I don’t meet the realistic deadline, I’m not going to be too bummed – hellO, my home was destroyed!  There are more important things to deal with…

But for the most part, it’s been a lot of fun.  I can’t believe how the words just flow onto the page.  Goddamn, I love disciplined writing.  Give me a deadline, and I’ll give you solid gold.  Diligence and will-power are not easy qualities to obtain, but despite that just the practice of doing the same thing and having the same goal every night has really made a difference.  Knowing I have to complete something in a certain amount of time, for some reason, makes me more productive than just letting me take my time.

I’m interested to see how things progress within the coming weeks.  Now that school and work are back to normal, it’s been a bit harder to stay on target, but I make it work.  I’m probably going to have to up my daily goal to about 8 pages/day, which isn’t terrible, but isn’t easy either.

What has been the biggest challenge for you during NaNoWriMo?

My Latest for Matador Network: 5 travel lessons that got me through Hurricane Sandy

My latest article for Matador Network

People whose homes were not annihilated during Hurricane Sandy still freaked out a bit. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN, I’M LIVING WITHOUT ELECTRICITY/HEAT/WATER/GAS FOR TWO WEEKS? HOW AM I EVER GOING TO DO ANYTHING EVER AGAIN?!?!?!??!”  People lamented and “woo is me”d until the the magic lights came back on and suddenly, everything was fine.

What most people don’t realize however, is that there are people all around the world who live without basic amenities every day – sometimes, for their whole lives.  This is something you would only be able to know by traveling the world and exposing yourself to the way other people live.  It’s one thing to see it on the news, it’s another to actually live it.

No power?  No problem.  I wanted to write an article about how it’s alright to live without the things we take for granted, as long as we are resourceful in other ways.  I love learning how I an improve my life from watching another way of doing things.  For example, I never would have known what to do with myself in the dark if I hadn’t lived through continuous blackouts in Ghana.  And I never would have figured out what I could and could not eat if I hadn’t been without a fridge in Slovakia.  We learn as we travel, it changes us, and it helps us grow in other ways.

Before the next natural disaster hits, check out my survival lessons I applied to Hurricane Sandy.  You’d be surprised how easy it really is to live without technological innovations.

5 travel lessons that got me through Hurricane Sandy

What were some travel skills that you were able to use to get you through the storm?

How To React When Your House Is Destroyed By Hurricane Sandy

I wrote an essay on my recent experience with Hurricane Sandy, and it was published by Thought Catalog!  Thought Catalog is a series of articles, essays and funny quips largely relating to millennial 20something culture.  Writing this essay, for me, was very therapeutic and helped me put things into perspective.  I hope it will help others the way it helped me and inspire people to write their own versions.

Listen to your fellow LAWN GUYLANDERS talk about their harrowing experiences. A woman with big, blond, bushy hair nervously chatters about losing the first floor of her home in Bellmore, including her bedroom, after the tidal surges. She’s currently sleeping on the floor of her 3-year-old daughter’s room. Her laundry companion relents about taking the bus to the laundromat on account of her car getting flooded; she had just paid off the auto loan, and now it no longer works. A man from Lindenhurst is interviewed by the news on the laundromat’s television. He talks about how he left his laptop above his television cabinet “because I didn’t think the water would get that high.”  When he came back, his entire house had fallen into a canal adjacent to his property.

Realize that although your life sucks right now, there are people out there that have it way worse.

How To React When Your House Is Destroyed By Hurricane Sandy: My First Essay for Thought Catalog


Voluntourism: Hurricane Sandy

Volunteers gather supplies at a local donation shelter in Queens, NY

There is often a disconnect between travelers and local communities; many people stay in hotels, eat in touristy areas and shop according to their guidebooks.  Most rarely interact with local people unless during some sort of transaction.  Voluntourism is a great way for travelers to help out while experiencing all their temporary community has to offer.  Voluntourism – the act of traveling for the purpose of volunteering – is a growing trend within the travel community. Many times, voluntourists can get their lodging and meals from host families in exchange for their services.

I used to work as a volunteer coordinator at the College of Charleston, setting up students with local non-profits and communicating with the public about community needs in Charleston, South Carolina.  One of the programs we ran was called “Alternative Spring Break,” where students organized voluntourism trips across America and around the world.

Never been to New York City before?  What better way to explore my hometown than creating a voluntour to help those affected by Hurricane Sandy?  New York and New Jersey are in dire need of extra hands.  You can help to help rebuild homes, hang out with awesome people who need a friend, and clean up what were some of the best beaches in America.

Here are some great resources for helping out the local communities in and around New York City.  Can’t get away from home?  You can still donate your time and effort from afar:

How to help in New York City after Hurricane Sandy: Time Out New York lists ways you can volunteer locally in NYC, donate blood, collect food and clothing and funds to Hurricane Sandy victims.

Storm Aftermath: Live Updates: Great resource for those wishing to go to New York City/Long Island to help with the aftermath.  Includes live updates of transportation routing, which areas have restored power, emergency supplies distribution, school closing information, and up-to-the-minute news articles.

How to Help the Survivors of Hurricane Sandy: issued by the White House Blog, a list of ways you can help those affected by Hurricane Sandy including a link to FEMA’s volunteer/donation resources.

Long Island Volunteer Center: Come clean up my house! Just kidding, but here is a great list of organizations from my neck of the woods, along with how YOU can help my community get back on its feet.

If you are interested in helping out the Hurricane Sandy relief effort but are still stuck, feel free to contact me via email.  I’d be happy to point you out in the right direction!