Camp NaNoWriMo: Halfway

So, in news that is surprising to absolutely no one who has ever heard my tales of prior Camp NaNoWriMos, things have not been going so well.

Part of it is that I have put an enormous amount of pressure on myself — it’s been weeks and weeks since I’ve actually been creative, and the project I decided to undertake was both ambitious and highly personal (fifteen narrative poems based around seminal and/or transformative moments in my life; so, yeah, no biggie), and those circumstances are wearing heavily on me.

As a result, little to no writing, as it were, has gotten done.


  1. I am building a YouTube habit out of vlogging my trials and tribulations vis-a-vis NaNoWriMo, and while the videos are nothing special at the moment, the habit is helpful as I work my way up to branching out to other kinds of video (I hope to do speed drawing, writing tips and trick, weekly poems (my own, and old favorites) kid’s books reviews, etc).
  2. I joined a writing Discord for people who were in my Camp NaNo cabin, and I have to say, it is nice to be part of a writing Discord where everyone is there by invitation (it’s never going to cap at more than 30 people, which makes it actually possible for person-to-person interaction), and everyone is over the age of 30.

Also, while no “writing” is getting done on the main project, I am doing a crap ton of outlining, free-writing, and brainstorming for each poem, and have decided that, in order to preserve momentum, I will be bringing in past incomplete NaNo projects to work on when I’m burning out on this one. Words written are words written, and are a net gain, regardless on which work they’re written, right?? They’re still words I wrote, on projects I’m working on, and they still count. They still matter.

Anyway, while I’m not totally disillusioned, I think this may be the last time I attempt Camp for a while. It just never seems to work out for my the way I want it to.

To those other who are participating in Camp this week, I hope you are finding a more traditional brand of success with your own projects.

Stay safe and sane, everyone.

Camp NaNoWriMo

First, before I get into the meat of this post, I’m celebrating the fact that my state has just had the first day with zero COVID fatalities since March 21st. All our numbers are down, as well — hospitalizations, intubations, and new diagnoses. We had, in our state of roughly 8 million, 114 new cases today.

For a state that had formerly been a “hot spot,” reporting thousands of new cases and up to 200 deaths per day during the height of it, this is incredibly positive news.

We still have a long, long way to go, but here’s the bright and shining proof that — gasp! — slow reopening with strict restrictions and enforced masking actually works, what a goddamned shocker, right?? It’s like, I don’t know, like Science is Real or something.

Anyway, that all being said, and with me beginning to be able to breathe a little easier (through my mask, which I will continue to wear for the foreseeable future), who is ready to take on Camp NaNoWriMo?

I…. have a very mixed relationship with Camp NaNoWriMo, which you can read a bit about here, in an essay I had originally published in the NaNo publication on Medium (and which needs to be seriously updated). Camp NaNo has a different energy that hasn’t always worked for me, though to be fair, in the last several years, every iteration of Camp had coincided with things going wonky at work, my social life getting turned up to 11, or taking on more than one creative challenge. This is the first time in at least the last four years when Camp has no other real competition for my time, save the rhythms of daily life.

I’ve joined my Cabin, am pantsing my project (which I’m still not 100% on), and readying to launch my YouTube channel (finally!) with some Camp NaNo vlogs. So, it’s on.

Is anyone else participating? Hit me up on Twitter (@rarelytidytweet) or on the official @rarelytidywriting)!

(Also, no worries, art isn’t off the table, but rather than force as I’ve been doing, I’m going to work on more lighthearted design stuff (I have some hopes/ideas for merch!), practicing anatomy/perspective, and collecting ideas. Art will be back full-force second week of August (why second week? I’ll tell you when we get there)).

Stay safe and sane, guys — and go out. Enjoy the summer weather.

Just mask up, keep your distance, wash your hands, and follow local guidelines. Come on, guys. Don’t ruin it for the rest of us.

NaPoWriMo: Day 16


The blank page beckons
(By turns taunting and tempting)
Urging idle hands

To work in earnest.
I pick up pen, put it down;
Flip to a fresh page

For a new fresh start;
How my mind loathes a blank page,
How its purity

Intimidates me:
How shameful to sully it
With imperfection.

I pick up the pen,
And, by and by, the words come.
Are they the right words?

Maybe the right words
Are nothing more or less than
The ones that you write

Day Sixteen:  Off-prompt.  I asked my son what i should write about, and his answer was “poetry.”

NaPoWriMo: Day 14


Swathes of verdant green
The rich brown-earth smell of soil
Turned by practiced hands

How my mother stooped
Spade and trowel at the ready
Knees stained from damp earth

How she held the bulbs
(mother affirming mother)
Reverent as a prayer

And the way she pulled
Fragrant soil around them
Gathered like family

We’d watch mid-day skies
For the tell-tall darkening
Harkening the rain

How my mother stood
Silhouetted in the door
Watching as it fell

Day Fourteen Prompt:  I believe it was about theft??  Off-prompt, either way.  I have semi-sub-consciously (and now consciously) written most of my poems this month in haiku stanzas, which works well for the time constraints I’m under, but also I’m considering keeping it up, with more care and consideration, once the challenge is officially over.

NaPoWriMo: Day 9


There are some flowers they say that bloom only at night.
Yours lips are flowers whose petal open only at night.

Your fingers press softly into the flesh of my throat.
Bruises, like garlands of bellflower, adorn my neck tonight.

You pick flowers for their beauty, not caring that this kills them.
You braid my hair, weave in fragrant jasmine that bloomed just tonight.

In the morning, you weave me a crown of daffodils and say I’m your queen.
A diadem limp and browning, withering fast in the summer heat tonight.

Sometimes I pluck petals from daisies and ask if you love me.
You tell me I’m yours, but that doesn’t seem to answer the question tonight.

Spring and summer make promises that fall and winter can never keep.
I reach for you hand, but you pull away.  I feel a chill in the air, tonight.

Prompt Day Nine:  Off-prompt.  I wrote a ghazal instead.  Also, didn’t post it yesterday, my bad.  Things were a little crazy.

NaPoWriMo: Day 8

Doll Maker

Button eyes, sewn smiles;
Under the seams runs the pain.
Each stitch, a heartache.

Fabric scraps and time
(Endless and empty hours)
Are her legacy;

Her generation
Proud to handcraft well-loved toys
For their own children.

But her kids don’t come.
They’ve grown, have kids of their own
Who don’t know her name,

The tenacity
Of her arthritic fingers,
Or her depth of love

(Her depth of sorrow,
Should be left, she thinks, unknown).
She threads her needle.

From every corner,
Button eyes watch in silence
As she starts to stitch.

Prompt Day Eight:  I followed the prompt, visiting @carsonbot and choosing a line to become the basis of my poem.  My line was, “under the seams runs the pain.”

NaPoWriMo: Day 4


Grandma had always been eccentric.

The straw men in each room, recumbent
Sitting in dusty rockers whose runner
Had worn grooves in the spongy linoleum,
Or propped in corners like penitent drunks
Seemed emblematic of her quirks.

It was easy to ignore the creeping unease,
The way their lifeless eyes seemed to track
Your movements through the rooms,
How their sun-bleached linen shirts always felt
Just a shade too warm for their dark corners.

That night, packing away the remnants of her life,
A sound, the push-broom scratch of sweeping,
Woosh, woosh, the dragging sigh of bristles on the floor.
I thought of straw-footed men, the shuffling dances
My grandfather would perform after too much wine.

The sheets still smell like her, laying, as I do,
Cradling a pillow to my chest; the sweet-grass smell
Of dry Bermuda hay and earthy alfalfa.  I close my eyes.
Once, stirred half from sleep, I thought I sensed a shadow
Cross my face, the soft-bristled whisper of straw sweeping,
Sweeping, sweeping across the floor.

Day Four Prompt:  A poem based on an image from a dream, this feels incomplete (especially when you know the full context; see below), but try as I might, I couldn’t get a satisfying ending given the time constraints.  Also, since I don’t generally remember my dreams, this was taken from a dream my sister recounted to me a while ago via Facebook Messenger:

NaPoWriMo: Day 3

Monarchs in April

Each spring, the milkweed
Warm, honey-spiced, and piquant

Tempts the butterflies;
Umbels bobbing in the breeze
Vibrant, solar-hued

Monarchs stop to perch
Sunning cathedral glass wings
Luminous and frail

Leaving behind eggs
Dotting leaves like fine brocade
Or fragile beading

Day Three Prompt:  Involved making a list of words and finding other rhyming words via an online rhyming dictionary.  The only thing I wound up keeping (despite having done the initial exercise!) was one of the original words I came up with (piquant, courtesy a random word generator).  Nothing else from the exercise appeared in this haiku sequence, ha ha.

NaPoWriMo: Day 2

Those April mornings
As dew clung to my nightgown
And grass prickled my feet,

The earth tempted my tongue:
The tender taste of clover,
And yellow woodsorrel,

With its soft citrus;
Dandelion’s earthy bite,
And the nutty tang of violets.

I explored the world
Through taste, savoring flavor,
Consuming beauty.

I’ve since discovered,
Your tongue moving against mine,
That I haven’t changed.

Day Two Prompt:  “Write a poem about a specific place —  a particular house or store or school or office.”  This started out as an attempt at that, reminiscing about how my friends and I, at age nine or ten, would wander out into gardens and seek out clovers to chew on.  Things sort of went awry from there.

Creativity Dump

I’d forgotten how fun Twitter prompts were.

Back in the day, like a hundred iterations of the blog ago (ok, so probably like, early 2016) I used to do Twitter prompts all the time.  I don’t know when or why I fell out of it; I think because I felt obligated to turn every prompt into some elaborate, epic poem, when really the point was to create a piece of micro-poetry that could — gasp — be posted on Twitter.

Returning to it this past week, man, it is fun.  The really strictly condensed prompt tags like #hintfiction (25 words or less), #storyin12 (12 words or less) and #hangtenstories (10 words or less), as well as #haikuchallenge have been a source or real, genuine creative enjoyment for me these last few days.  I’ve actually decided to start a monthly archive of my filled prompts on my Poetry and Other Writing Page.  You can read them here.

I also finished a drawing last night, which got a much, much warmer reception on Facebook than I was expecting:


I am ever grateful that tomorrow is Wednesday.  Hopefully I can be a bit productive around the house and maybe even get some exercise in.

Take a minute to breathe, guys.  In and out, slow and steady.  We can do this.