Monthly Archives: October 2009

NanoEve

As predicted, no progress made on the trilogy. Definitely I’m not starting with that one. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to start with one of the 50k ones, though it may come down to a coin toss right before midnight that actually decides for me. I’ll wait and see if either of them strikes me with sudden inspiration before midnight. I plan to go for the 50k on the first day, just to see if I can, though I’m not certain I’ll get all the way there.  The extra hour helps of course, it means I only have to average 2k an hour, which I know that I can do, it’s just that I’m not that great at going without any sleep, plus I probably have to cook dinner at some point or the family will be perturbed, and I’ll probably watch tv in the evening.

I have to admit minor jealousy of those who’ve already started; I’ve got just 10.5 hours to go. I know, I know, I finish after them so it all evens things out, but that’s not much satisfaction as I watch their word counts slowly but steadily rise. At least I’m not the last time zone to start (I feel sorry for those on Midway Island, 17.5 hours to go!). I’ve successfully managed to keep myself from listening to my NaNo music, so that adds extra anticipation to midnight.

I’ll probably spend most of the rest of the day distracting myself from the fact that it’s not midnight yet. I can probably find something to read, though given the restless mood I’m in, I’m more likely to read five pages of thirty books than read a whole one straight through. I probably won’t do much more work on my NaNos (even though I know it needs to be done, I just won’t be able to focus very well on it. Bah. I’m more ready than I was last year; then I only had an outline for one of my four projects and had to make it up as I went along. Miserable).

I’m not going out trick-or-treating tonight, because I’m not a big Halloween fan. I’ve got a bag of candy corn in my desk drawer, that’ll be good enough.

During the next month, I think I’ll try for daily or every-other-daily updates, but it’ll depend on how much extra time I’ve got hanging around.

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*sigh*

I haven’t yet received my first nasty Nanomail accusing me of cheating, but I expect that to start within the first few days of November. I can’t tell you how disheartening it is to wake up, log on, and see that I’ve got 5 or 6 messages. Of them, odds are that one, maybe two, of them will be positive. They’ll ask how I do it or just generally offer support. Those people are awesome and deserve great novel karma and total happiness. But then the rest will be people flat-out accusing me of cheating. And they piss me off. A lot. I’m generally a pretty calm, blase, take-the-world-as-it-comes kind of person, but of all the things I do/have done in my life, this is pretty much the real-est. I work my ass off for hours a day, every day, for 30 days. I love doing it and hope to do it for many years to come.

And do you know what surprised me as I was wandering around the forums this year? People were timing their word counts in 10/15 minute intervals, and quite a lot of them can type as much or more than I can in the same period of time. Yes, they’re doing one burst and not sustaining that speed, but that just takes practice and a lucky-good set of wrists. And yes, you’ve got to have the ideas in the first place, which I understand other people sometimes have trouble with. As for quality, the only difference between me who writes a couple thousand in an hour as part of a long day, and the person who procrastinates until 10 at night and pushes all their words out in an hour, is that I was doing it for more hours that day. I remain convinced that the quality of my work is not significantly worse than anyone else’s, on average. And yeah, I understand that most people don’t have the time to dedicate to what I do, and that’s fine. If/when I get married/employed/have kids I’m sure that I’ll have to cut back, and that’s fine. When it happens, it happens. I’ll deal with it then. Everyone’s circumstances are different, and priorities too (no, I’m not saying that it’s a wrong priority to put your job/significant other/children/pet first, I’m saying that it’s a decision), and mine allow me to do this, and my lifestyle allows me to shunt other things into the background for 30 days to do something insane.

Why would I cheat? What the hell would my gain be? Sure, yeah, I get to parade around the forums talking about my word count, but in general, I try to confine that to threads where people are talking about their word count, and even then I don’t post a lot. When I was doing JulNo earlier this year, and was doing word wars with people, after a while I participated silently and didn’t report my count at the end of the war. Because I hate making people uncomfortable with my word count, and I hate making them feel on any level like they’re doing less work than I am. You can see in the previous posts on this blog that I talk about the things I’m going to write, I’m happy to talk about them. The only person losing if I pretended to write those things would be me. As I always do with those who accuse me of cheating, I will do it again this year: if you don’t believe me, I would be delighted to send you all the work I’ve done this month to date.  It will be a rough enough first draft that you’d have to have my notes and a lot of patience to make it anything publishable, and I’m not all that afraid of theft. Sure, I can’t prove that I’ve written it all in November, but it’s the best I can do. If anyone else would like to suggest a way for me to prove I’m telling the truth, I’d be open to all suggestions.

The reason I’m getting this off my chest now, rather than later in November, or another year, is that there’s a lot of commotion going on in the forums about what can and can’t be done, and it’s getting heated on all sides. I’m trying to stay out of it, because making enemies isn’t what I’m on that forum to do, and I’m hideously outnumbered. And the subject of this post isn’t to criticize marienbadmylove. I’ve said my piece about him, and that is all I plan to say. I won’t let him ruin the month for me, just as I won’t let anyone else. All I know is that I will be waiting here, computer on hand, as the clock ticks slowly towards midnight, with a fresh word document open, waiting to begin the month.

As for the how it’s not just random crap spurted out onto a page, which I can understand some would think, the answer is outlines, character pages, maps, and a good memory. If you put together everything I’ve written in preparation for this month, as much as I denigrate my laziness in other posts (which I am. Shamefully lazy), you’d still probably round up at least 30,000 words. Yeah, it’s going to need editing. But what written in a month, 50,000 words or a million, isn’t going to need editing at the end? But it’s not total crap. It’s not just stream of consciousness. I use contractions, I don’t break the fourth wall, and I’m fairly sure that in the four years I’ve done it so far, that I’ve not inserted text from another source (as quotes or anything else). If I run down the list of cheats, I’m 99.99% sure that I’ve not done any of them, and don’t plan to. (Again, not criticizing those who use them). I can read most of what I wrote last year and not wince too much. It’s a bit wordy, and I can tell where I got bored writing it, but I could sit down and read it, and it makes sense.

It has always been, and will always be my view that whether you write one word or a million, if you take the initiative and start that novel that’s always been hiding in the back corner of your mind, just because it’s November and NaNoWriMo, you’re a winner.

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Gratuitous? I like to think so.

As expected, I’ve still done next to no work on This is How it Ends. I’ve made a couple of maps, which is useful, and I’ve named the countries. I’ve even given them cities and such. But I’m in a lazy and weird sort of mood today/yesterday. To why I’m amusing myself in such a pointless way, a little backstory is required. The three continents on this planet were settled thousand(s) of years prior, and each of the three are based on one of the blocs that existed on Earth at the time of the flight (I should solidly define those…hmm…EuroAmerican, Middle East, Sino-Soviet, Everyone Else…hey, in thirty seconds, I’ve done more work on this project than I have most days this week!).

So, when they land they’re going to name places in recollection of places back on Earth. And then time passes, language evolves, history happens, etc etc, and so they get mutated. I had a bit of fun ages ago working out the Russian one – I took a linguistics course in college, Introduction to Language Change and so I spent the better part of an hour trying to imagine the things that could happen to Novaya Rodina (New Homeland) and Novaya Moskva (New Moscow), and I’m confident that you see no trace of that in the names they presently have. But then time passed, I got lazy, and it came to this week and two of the three continents still weren’t named. So I got lazier. The Middle East one will be painfully obvious once the backstory about the travel from Earth is introduced. We then go to the EuroAmerican one, which I suspect is largely unrecognizable but not because of any cleverness on my part, as above.  I was messing around with names in my head, and I was thinking about the way Americans talk, especially when they talk fast, and slur words together. So my three cities I have labeled on the map are Yark (New York), Shago (Chicago), and Deesay (D.C.). It’s not clever, it’s not funny and yet I’m not changing it until the second draft (if this monster makes it to that).

Now back to puzzling how squid aliens would name themselves…

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Preternatural Calm

So in 5 days and a little under 6 hours, I’ll be sitting here probably in exactly the same bad-posture position (slouched back, one leg up on the desk, one leg folded under me) and be starting Nano 2009. Hell, by the time I’ve finished writing this post, I suspect that in 5 days and 6 hours exactly, I’ll have finished my first thousand, which is kind of cool.

I haven’t decided which project I’m going to lead off with. I’m still a little hesitant about This is How it Ends, and I don’t want to start slow and weak, but on the other hand, I’d rather get the more difficult ones done at the beginning before I hit fatigue.  And I’ve got the two short ones; I’m severely tempted to take one of those and attempt to hit 50,000 on Day 1, but I’ve not decided on that, either. It would be great to start over-target, as last year I was behind from Day 1 and it became a miserable battle with myself.  I’d be aided by the extra hour, which could be to my benefit.

I’m still not ready for This is How it Ends. I’ve still got a lot of work to do,but I’m hoping to break it up into small chunks to motivate myself to actually do it.  (For the record, it’s now 6:13, In 5 days and 6 hours, I should have the first thousand done).  I’m more or less ready for the others, though the fantasy one could use a title, but I could just keep calling it “Fantasy 2009 Nano” if I really have to.

The panic hasn’t set in yet. The panic will come on Saturday afternoon when I realize that I’ve still got to name all the squid aliens, half the humans, plus the other set of humans, plus this that and the other. But I have faith that come midnight, the calm will set back in, as it has settled in now.  This is something I love, something I look forward to, and something I will enjoy doing this year just as much as I have enjoyed it in the past.

(I even know where my wrist braces are!)

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Knock on Wood?

So, no sooner do I put up a post saying I’ve made up my mind, than my mind goes off and changes itself. The alien story has been scrapped, which wasn’t hard as it never really got fleshed out. I decided I’m not funny enough to write it and don’t think I can pull enough plot in to make it anything other than excruciating torture. This coming month, I need things to write that I’m actually going to want to write.

What’s really annoying, though, is me sitting on my bed, happily reading a book when the kernel of an idea comes into my mind and 10 pages later in the book, I’ve no idea what’s happened because my brain is off somewhere else. Welcome, though, as I’m starting to get a little panicky about all the work that still needs to be done. Before I go to bed tonight, I want to outline this new idea and finish up the last smidges of planning for Just a Glimpse.

So the project that we’re going to pretend is the last one my brain is going to come up with is a play on the traditional fantasy hero quest. The ideas are still working through my mind, but it might be worth something, and I think I’ve already thought of more than enough plot. I just need to let the idea simmer through my skull. In more good news, my 15 viewpoint characters for Just a Glimpse now all have names!

I have all my music bought for the coming month, and am refusing to let myself start listening to it until the stroke of midnight next Sunday. (In case anyone cares, the music in question is/are Dear Agony (Breaking Benjamin), Everything Ends (Ground to Dust), Maybe I’m Dreaming (Owl City), Awake (Skillet), The Alchemy Index, Vol 2. (Thrice), and Wounds Wide Open (To/Die/For)…and no comments about my taste, or lack thereof, about music!)

Nearly November 1!  (Feels almost like Christmas!)

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The Final Lineup?

When I sat down at the beginning of the month to think about what I was going to write in November, I had a vague idea of several projects that I was going to embark on. Over the course of the past couple of weeks, things have oscillated widely as my opinion has changed about them. But as we’re only a week and a few days away, I should probably settle down on what projects I’m actually going to pursue. And I think I’ve finally got it. So, the lineup for November 2009:

This is How it Ends (600k): A trilogy spanning at least a thousand years with all of its interrelated plotlines. Earth gets hit by a meteor (I think), and so a few thousand, from the 4 major blocs in the future-Earth depart to look for an Earth-like planet to resettle humanity. They find one, but discover that there are two sentient species on it, squid-aliens and humanoid aliens. They make a treaty with the squid-aliens, but slaughter the humanoid ones because they take up too much land. A thousand (or so) years later, the descendants of the first humans are engaged in an all-out war with the squid-aliens, and both species end up destroying each other out of nothing more than sheer hatred. Meanwhile back on Earth, not all of humanity was wiped out, but inbreeding and disease has whittled down the population to almost nothing, and one tribe/group sends out a healthy young man to go and find the repository where hundreds of embryos have been stored, in order to restart humanity. But, as it turns out, they can’t reproduce successfully, meaning humanity can’t survive. Everyone dies. Everything ends.

Just a Glimpse (300k): A dystopian massive novel. It has many (15) viewpoints, and illustrates a society that is on the brink of collapse. It is a highly stratified society, but one that cannot exist for too long, because the ones on top do  not want to work and the ones on the bottom can hardly work at all. It is a society controlled by three things: religion, drugs, and television and ruled by a leader that cannot control his family, let alone a whole country. This story doesn’t have a lot of plot and the plot is going to come as I write; here I simply have a fairly developed society and a lot of characters, and I’m just going to go with the flow. It’s “just a glimpse” of what a society can become. (I think).

Under the Infinite Skies (50k): A serial killer is hunted by a cop. This is all complicated by the fact that five years ago, when their two countries were separated by a wall at the border, on the last night when they were accessible to each other, the cop and the serial killer slept together. The serial killer thinks that when the cop returns, it means that it was true love; the cop slowly becomes more suspicious as the pseudo-relationship progresses. The reader should understand pretty damn early on what is going on; the drama is going to be in the fact that the cop doesn’t know.

Untitled Alien Story (50k): An alien who was born and raised in Area 51 wants to go and explore the human world. A human goes with him, but cannot (obviously) share what his past is, and so must create a new life for himself (he did not leave entirely with permission, so he cannot have a happily falsified past courtesy of the government). Hijinks ensue as the alien and the human learn how to live in the “normal” world. This one I only came up with last night, so it’s not properly fleshed out yet.

Still loads of work to do, but at least I think I’ve come up with the final lineup. And that’s a start.

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Progress!

So when I finished my outlines for the long trilogy I’m writing for November, there still remained a lot to be done. Hardly any of the characters were named, and I refuse to write something 600,000 words long and continue to use “unnamed nobleman” for the whole thing. So I sat down late last night. Now I’ve got a map of the capital city (click to embiggen), all of the important noble families named and family-tree-ed (at least to the extent I need them to be), and I’m working on finishing up the description of my pastoralist terrorist group, which is progressing nicely to the point of me tweaking the outline a little to give them a slightly bigger role (okay, they do plenty of nasty stuff as is, but now they’ll actually have a name and a face to go with them). I feel like I’m making progress, but then I realize how much more work I’ve got to do: I’ve got two more continents and cultures to flesh out, my squid aliens to give some identity to, the ancient humanoids have to have a culture (and names and stuff), as do the Earth humans.  Plus, I’m not done my outlines for the rest of my projects, let alone fleshed them out.

Of course, this all speaks to a certain common theme in me: I’m an inherent procrastinator. The less time I have to do something, the more diligently I’ll actually set about doing it. I just can’t make myself really set into a project when I know I’ve still got a month to get all the planning done. I’m fairly sure this is a big character flaw, but I don’t think it’s a terribly rare one.  Maybe by the end of tomorrow, I’ll have got all three continents’ cultures dealt with and can move on to the myriad other ones. (Of course, first I’ll have to name the other two continents!)

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