I am defeated again
Slave to perfection
Dear reader, I pose this question for you:
Should I hold myself to a different standard than I hold other purveyors of fiction?
When I read fiction that touches on science or technology1, and said science is wrong2, it bothers me3. However, if the rest of the tale is exciting, intriguing, or otherwise entertaining, I am all too happy to let it slide.
The idea I've started entertaining for this year's NaNo novel is based on some pretty lousy science. I don't want to get into the details just yet, but suffice it to say that it would bug me if I were just the reader.
My problem is twofold. First, it's NaNo; to reach the goal, I just need to crank out 50,000 words, regardless of how useless they are. And second, it troubles me that I can't think of a more elegant way to cause the scenario which is the basis for the story, and I'd really hate for my first success4 at NaNo to be based on something that would bug me as a reader.
As I said, though, if it were another author's book, I'd let it go and enjoy the rest of the tale.
So what do you think? Should I write the story, warts and all, or should I spend the next three days cramming for a better idea? Your comments would be welcome.
Well, that didn't take long. I walked down the hall to the restroom wondering what I might write about. By the time I got back, I had it. Here's a sample.
A grey-skinned alien next to Derek shouted something unintelligible at them.
"What the hell does he want?" asked Peter.
"How the fuck would I know?" yelled an exasperated Derek. "They didn't cover alien gibberish at orientation!"
Peter said, "Wait!" He closed his eyes and concentrated.
After something failed to happen for 30 seconds, Derek started to ask, "What are--".
"Shh!" shushed Peter through clenched teeth. After a few more seconds, there was the now familiar popping sound. In Peter's hands were two small headsets, a combination of earphone speaker, microphone, and vision enhancement device. "Huh. That's not quite how I pictured them," he said with amusement and surprise.
"What are they?"
"Translators, I hope. Took me a while to guess what shape they might be. I was going to try a fish next."
"Douglas Adams? The Babelfish?"
"Fuck your nerd shit, dude. Seriously. Give me that thing."
Coincidentally, it was at about 650 words when I decided to post this.
It's that time of year again. It gets dark way too early. It's fucking cold. The only thing really worth looking forward to, aside from April and maybe the orgy of materialism around the winter solstice, is a dead bird and some gourd flesh made into a dessert. And thousands of psychotic people like myself get the notion to write a (albeit short) novel in November's 30 days.
I was seriously on the fence this year. I really wanted to do it. In fact, I really wanted to revisit my 2005 novel, Unchained, and finish it. That was my best effort to date; of the three times (not including this one) I've attempted NaNoWriMo, I got around 22,000 of the required 50,000 words before getting so far behind that I threw in the towel. While I was pondering whether or not to participate, I re-read it. With the distance from the rigors of actually writing it, I found that it was an enjoyable read. I wanted to know more, so I resolved to rewrite it.
But I also have a lot on my plate. Five or six hours of my free time per week are now devoted to the Volcanicast. I'm remodeling my living room/dining room/kitchen. And work looks set to get stupid busy on me.
Furthermore, I've lost my two best writing buddies. KJToo has defected to the Lake County group, and honestly, who can blame him; they're much more local to him. And Wesley isn't working on a novel this year, but his own pet NaNoesque project. He's also working nights, so I won't see him at any of the meetings. Without their camaraderie, I'm losing a significant part of the motivation. I hope that doesn't sound like a complaint, I can certainly not fault either of them.
With all that, I've done a miraculous thing. I've given myself license to fail. Every other year, I've expected to succeed (because I'm foolish and undeservedly optimistic). As such, I was overly concerned about being "behind" the average one thousand, six hundred sixty-six and two thirds words per day, and felt the growing gap as a tremendous weight such that when it became mathematically impossible for me to complete the task, I simply gave up and quit.
So I have a much more relaxed view toward NaNo this year. If I don't make it, that's okay. The odds were against me, anyway. If I do make it, though, what a sweet victory it would be.
I started on November 1, rewriting Unchained as Projection. It quickly became apparent, though, that that's not what I really wanted to do. Every divergence from the original feels wrong. I find myself copying chunks of words (manually, no cut/paste) because I think I did it better the first time. That's not what I set out to do. And I realized that I just want to finish Unchained as it is.
This leaves me with a dilemma. I still want to do NaNo, so I think I'm going to start over with a new story. I don't have any characters or plot, but that's never stopped me before. I know that if I just start writing, the rest will come. The good news is that I came to this realization fairly early. That means that if I start tomorrow, my average word count per day need only be 2,000. A mere pittance over the original goal of 1,667.
I'm pretty excited about this turn of events, actually. I'm also excited about the freedom to fail. I don't think I'm going to quit this year, even if it seems near the end like I'll only hit 20K, I'm going to write until the last day.
So, wish me luck, and look for the new title and reset status image at the top left of my home page.
*There goes another 650 words. I'm doing it wrong.
Well, I didn't make it. November was a hellish month. Work was crazy, I was trying to write my novel, holidays and baby showers and financial crises. Blah blah blah blah blah.
All excuses. Fact is, I'm a failure.
I wrote 22,037 words in November, until I had a bout of writers block so bad that I just couldn't keep up. Not bad, I suppose, but I am shamed by the likes of Kris and his wife Laura. Wesley didn't quite make it this year, but he's done it twice.
Nonetheless, I feel pretty good. It was a far, far better effort than 2004. I actually like my book for the most part. I'll probably even continue working on it. I also had a great time hanging with the other Cleveland area NaNoers.
In other news, MC Frontalot has put out a call for a website coder. I've offered up my services. Let's see if he takes the bait. I love Front's music, almost without exception. What has always amazed me, beyond the unbelievably dope rhymes, is the production value. Top-freaking-notch, even when he's only got a week or so to throw the thing together for Songfight.
I've always felt slightly bad about the fact that I haven't had the money and the inclination at the same time to offer Front recompense for the listening pleasure he's given me. So, if he should take me up on the offer, we'll call it good.
If you're a nerd, or a music fan not afraid of Nerdcore Hip-Hop, I strongly suggest you check out his stuff. In particular, I recommend Charity Case, Braggadocio, and Which MC Was That?.
I guess I'll wrap this up. Sorry I haven't posted in so long. NaNoWriMo took a lot out of me. I'm jazzed, though, and I'm ready to try again next year.
Oh, look for the voice of the blob in the first episode of Stargate Cafe to be released, hopefully, on January 1, 2006.
Okay, I think I'm done now.
The writing goes well, so far. After two days, I had 5077 words. That puts me more than a day ahead! And the words I have written are flowing so much more easily than last year. Actually concocting a few elements of plot beforehand seems to have seriously helped. Although, I'm also glad that I didn't outline a rigidish structure. I had two epiphanies yesterday that filled in some gaps and are practically writing the book for me.
Not content with my newfound writing skills, I also decided to make my own progress indicator. Over there on the left is an image I create dynamically using the php gd library. It's all customizable, so you can change the icon and the offsets and the borders and the colors. If you'd like to mess with it, you can find the php code here: nano.phps and nanofuncs.phps. Feel free to use, share, and modify.
And one final NaNo note, there's the weekly gathering at Panera Bread at 480/Tiedeman tonight. I'm pretty excited about this one.
If you want to read the work in progress, it's right here: unchained.pdf. Feel free to peruse, but be aware that this is a rough first draft. Major plot elements are subject to change. I will also not be accepting any literary criticism until December.
Last year, I attempted to write a novel in a month as part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I didn't do very well. There are 2,123 of the required 50,000 words in my last file, but it seems to be missing a big chunk of something that I wrote shortly before giving up.
Well, the bug has bitten me and I'm getting excited about trying again. A title hit me like a bolt from the blue yesterday. Unchained. I don't know what it means yet. I don't have a plot, or characters, or even a general idea of what I want to say, but I have a title.
A large group (16ish) of Cleveland NaNo writers got together for a meeting yesterday evening. It was very cool to see old friends (and NaNo inspiration) Wesley and Kris and to meet a bunch of other crazy word-writing people.
During the meeting, I decided to write a short story, to kind of get the juices flowing. It's very short, I'm about to link to the second draft, so it's pretty rough, but I'm actually proud of it. If you'd like to read Olivia's Pet Project, it's here.