The Insecure Writer’s Support Group virtually meets the first Wednesday of each month, and lets us share struggles, triumphs, quandaries, and fears. This month’s question is:

What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever googled in researching a story?

I’ve definitely researched a lot of creepy, depressing, and macabre things over the years—footbinding, what happens to someone in the electric chair, how to survive being shot in the head without becoming disabled, the projected timeline of the very far future, anything to do with the Shoah.

Probably the strangest research subject is if someone could live a semblance of a normal life with the loss of all five senses. As a child, I created a story about a girl named Carmel Allison Jaywalker who loses them all in her sleep before her third birthday. In my juvenile imagination, I made up “the killer pimples,” giant pimple-like things growing over her nose, eyes, ears, skin, and tongue. My brilliant idea was for Carmel to learn to communicate through ESP.

Someday I’d like to go back to this story, which never made it beyond an unfinished picture book, though it seems best to “only” make Carmel blind-deaf. Someone missing all five senses would live entirely in their own reality, hallucinate constantly, be as if in a waking coma, with sleep and dreaming being the only enjoyable things in life.

Minus every major sense, one would need a constant caretaker, and the brain would receive no sensory input. This would not be a meaningful life. At most, I might write a short story about such a person, but I can’t think of any compelling storyline to fill an entire novel.

FYI: The thumb in the B letter is draped WAY too far over the palm. Most artistic depictions of the ASL manual alphabet are guilty of this.

Speaking of, I recently began teaching myself ASL, and mastered the finger alphabet in about a week. I’m a longtime Deaf ally, and have several Deaf characters.

I’m planning a future post on how to write a Deaf character, both historically and today.  Since I obviously don’t have the POV of a Deaf person, I welcome corrections and additions.

This is my sixth year officially doing NaNo, and I’m far from the only person who’s deeply unhappy with the new website. So many people are complaining and considering not doing it again next year, while others opted out this year due to the difficulty of navigating this revamped design.

I can believe there were serious tech issues behind the scenes, but was this really the best new design possible? And if they began testing it in January and still had so many bugs on the eve of NaNo, that should’ve been a sign it wasn’t ready for primetime yet. Supposedly these problems didn’t become apparent till a lot of traffic was thrown at the site all at once.  Why not keep it in beta and wait till after the big event to make the full-time transition?

Just look at these differences in the daily graphs:

The new graphs are just hideous! Too little info and not clustered together in one concise place. The new design isn’t very intuitive or attractive, and there are no bells and whistles making the changes worthwhile. Mobile users say it’s even worse there.

The site isn’t as buggy as it was, but our Camp projects from this year still haven’t migrated over, we lost all our buddies, the popular Faces charts can’t run till next year, Home Regions are a mess, and there’s annoying infinite scroll instead of manageable separate pages on the message boards.

They even went all virtue-signalling Woke™ by including a field for freaking pronouns in profiles!

I decided to take the stress off myself by continuing with Part IV of A Dream Deferred as my primary NaNo project, instead of forcing myself to fly through it with just weeks remaining. It feels right to publish this book in four volumes.

Part IV will be the shortest by far, under 200K. If I finish, I’ll make general chapter-by-chapter notes for the fifth book and go right into that.

10 thoughts on “IWSG—November odds and sods

    1. So do I.

      I love the light blue and the beach setting – feels like holidays/vacations.

      A total loss would indeed be a tough way to live. Especially living without the sense of touch.

      [the other four can be mitigated or compensated for in some way, Alex].


    1. I can.

      I can also imagine never having had them or so little of them it makes no matter.

      And, Clee, the challenge!


  1. For so many of us who find sleeping and/or dreaming uncomfortable or worse, Carmel’s story – or at least the extreme premise – would be a good one for the author who could do it.

    And there are more senses – like interoception and/or procipoception and also things like temperature.

    Congratulations on writing 3500 and more words a day.

    Thank you for the ASL alphabet and that pointer for where the B was.

    There is a good book showing the British two-hander – COLE’S FUNNY PICTURE BOOK – which a lot of Australians and New Zealanders use too.

    Anticipating the Deaf character writing post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Congratulations on teaching yourself ASL. Like learning any second language, you must have quite a facility. Good luck with NaNo.


  3. Ugh, agreed on new NaNo site! Fortunately I’ve been keeping it all very simple this year due to juggling more than usual stuff.
    That sounds like an intriguing story and not all that out there. Just wondering, did you ever hear of Lock In by Scalzi? ( Sounds like it could be something of a similar concept, and he definitely makes it work for a whole book. It’s one of my fave books too. Just saying! It could work. 🙂 Good luck!


  4. Apologies, Carrie-Anne for this late visit to this post – I see I’ve still got your September IWSG thoughts to read too. Emails are burying me faster than I can read them.

    I share your thoughts on the frustrating/buggy/disappointing new NaNo site. I had problems when it first launched – my first NaNo year got deleted when I added my 2019 project; and it’s not back.

    I’m fascinated at your ‘hands-on’ exploration of deafness. I look forward to reading more as one of my secondary characters in my Wales-based WIP – the MC’s younger sister – is deaf so uses British Sign Language (BSL), which her family learn, and she lip-reads. The latter proves useful, although with limitations, for the MC who is a detective.


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