Saturday, November 19, 2011

Week Two....and most of Three

Week two is when the new shiny wears off.  It's also when a writer is most likely to abandon their work to try something else.  By now the initial excitement has dulled somewhat and the writer begins to realize how much actual work lies ahead.  Second guessing their decisions, they think that if they can write about something more exciting, they'll be able to quickly recapture lost word count and continue on.  Never a good idea.

Writers already have enough trouble dealing with the "am I crazy's" when they realize they are sacrificing an awful lot of time creating something that, at best, two or three friends and/or family members will ever read or appreciate, and then they're probably only being polite when they say they like it.  This is ten times worse during NaNoWriMo because of the shear volume of time that must be sacrificed, including important family time during the holidays.  Only a healthy dose of narcissism, combined with an anarchic disregard for social (and literary) conventions and shear bloody mindedness, can carry one through at this point.  A writer has to write entirely for themselves and anyone who doesn't appreciate their greatness can go critique themselves.

Week two, for me, was a constant dance on the edge of mental burnout.  I suspect one danger of lots of pre nano preparation is increasing the risk of such.  About half the time I thought I wasn't going to make goal for the day.  Most of the time I pulled it out, but at least one day (when I was about half a day ahead) I only got halfway to the daily goal of 1667.  That may not sound so bad, but I am not a sprinter.  I know some writers can easily knock out thousands of words a day (A surprising number are actually published writers, so it just might not be all crap) I, however, cannot do that.  My strategy is simple.  Just hit goal every day and try to do a little more.  Thanksgiving is a bad time to be writing so a little cushion, if possible, helps.

Week Three was much the same.  I did get a little game time in (after making goal of course) last weekend which may have helped reset my brain.  I was hoping to do the same this weekend, but I've got packing to do.  Strangely enough last Wednesday was both my worst and best day.  I was facing total burnout.  I'd just got to the part where I knew what I needed to write next, but I didn't care anymore.  Instead I went back and wrote scenes that weren't on my outline, scenes that I had thought about, but had skipped over.  It turned out to be some of the best writing I've done this nano.  And despite the enormous weight of apathy I still manage to beat goal.

Today, though I got a late start, was a pretty good day.  I did over 3k (which is about my peak performance right now) and it wasn't too much of a struggle.  I'm hoping I've gotten to the point in the story where things just sort of take off.  That tends to happen as you near the climax.  I'm also hoping I don't run out of outline before I run out of 50k words.  And I'm also a little concerned about both pacing and uneven voice.

Ok...I've got to go think about something else for awhile and calm down.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Week 1 - The Panic Is Normal

Last night was day 7 of NaNoWriMo and so far I've been able to stay on top of my writing quotas.  There were a few days where I was forced to stay up late to pull it out, but at this point I'm very slightly ahead of the game.

Last Thursday, I think I was fighting off a virus or something.  I had a very hard time focusing, but I managed to still make goal.  So far my detailed outline has kept things on track.  It means I don't have to worry about what happens next, though I still have to sometimes figure out how I'm going to make it happen.

Last weekend I was hoping to hit goal early and take a break, maybe play a little DDO and do some favor grinding.  Something mindless to turn the brain off.  Instead I was persuaded to pull the chainsaw out and trim the trees since brush pickup is this week.  I also finally got around to mowing the thicket in the backyard where the faucet leaks.  By Sunday I had serious brain-fry and could barely focus enough to make goal.

To make matter worse I had an entire chapter that was all transitional scenes.  I did have some important ground to cover, I got to trickle out a little more character/cultural/setting background, but it was mostly about getting the characters from point A to point B to set up the next situation.  In fact I have often suspected I have a tendency to gloss over such things, just hit the important conflicts and move on--certainly last year's nano had much more action in it at this point--so I made myself develop those scenes more fully.  Hopefully I didn't overdue it.

I'm definitely going to need beta readers on this one.

Monday, October 10, 2011

21 Days and Counting...

So, I've decided to do the inadvisable and write a sequel to an unpublished novel. I am, optimistically, about half finished plotting the thing, though I still have some hard decisions to make that could slow things down. I am, however, already seeing some interesting connections developing between characters. The act of discovery is probably the most satisfying part of writing. I can understand how Tolkien would talk about his world as if he weren't creating it, but exploring it. I am both excited and a little intimated about the journey coming up next month. I hope I can finish planning my itinerary by then.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Preparing for NaNo 2011

Every year I tell myself I'm going to do a better job preparing for NaNoWriMo. So far I've been able to do that, but each year I feel I should have done a better job. It is now the end of July and I've already started that agonizing search for this year's story.

I started with a short-short story called Panacea about the accidental creation of a mutagenic plague. (I wrote the whole thing with my thumbs on my iPod as a lark. :) It was intended to be a bit of back story for a far future post-post-apocalyptic story involving mutants, primitive tribal culture and lost technology. (Were not talking X-men mutants here, but more like Beneath the Planet of the Apes type mutants.) Unfortunately I don't have a handle on the main character, so that story really needs to sit and gel awhile longer.

I also wrote a potential first chapter for a YA zombie apocalypse told from the POV of a 15 year old girl who has to travel through a zombie infested metropolis to get her family back together. I think it has a lot of potential and the dramatic irony of the first chapter was a lot of fun yet, somehow--despite living with a 15 year old girl, the voice wasn't quite right. I may have to backburner that one as well.

I have lots of other stories rattling around in the back of my head (not all of which are apocalyptic) including a lovecraftian horror romance story I was toying with last year. I may even violate one of the basic rules for writers and write a sequel to an unpublished story.

I never really finished A Kingdom of Stone. I mean, I did--and it's a pretty solid ending, but there was a whole second part to that story that would have been included if I hadn't hit the 134k word mark. In Arthurian terms, part one deals with the rise of Merlin while part two deals with the rise of Arthur.

(No, this is not an Arthurian tale! I'm actually somewhat tired of those. I'm using Arthur as a metaphor here so I don't have to explain the actual story--though I will be borrowing from the Fisher King and other parts of the Mabinogion so there will be a resonance there. :)

The ending for part two is pretty well mapped out, but the rest of it is largely up in the air. That's because it's really the ending of the first book that's just been chopped off. That means I've got to craft a new beginning for part two and finish working out the middle bits. We'll see how close I come before October and the pre-nano panic kicks in.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Nanowrimo 2010 Postmortem

I know nanowrimo ended for most people in Nov, but for me it doesn't really end until I'm holding my proof in my hot little hands. The actual writing ended about April--yes I know most people finish in November, but then most nanos are only 50k or so long. This year, mine came in just under 90k, a little shorter than last year's. Each year's attempt gets a little easier and this year's was no exception. I think this goes to show, if nothing else, that I picked the right story after all.

Otherwise, nanowrimo was a bit of a bust. We didn't have the usual midnight kick-off write-in and I didn't go to any of the events which were almost all on the other side of town, so I didn't really feel like I was a part of things. In fact I barely even got on the forums. Though who knows maybe it actually helped me meet goal more quickly. :)

If all goes well, the free print should be arriving in about a week. Sometime after that I'll be looking for beta readers. If anyone thinks they might be interested in reading the thing or even just willing to help me out, I could use some fresh eyes on it. I'll be posting more info then.