Friday, November 6, 2009

Must... keep... writing...

So I've been awful about posting lately. I feel terrible about it. I am very fond of all six of my regular readers, and I don't want them to abandon me for Phil's blog. (Don't do it, Artful Dodger! It will only encourage him!)

Unfortunately, it's probably going to keep up at least through Thanksgiving, because I find myself wrapped up in NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. The thousands of us doing this are supposed to complete a 50,000-word novel by the end of November -- roughly the equivalent of 175 pages in a real book.

Edited to add: If you're also doing NaNoWriMo, please add me as a writing buddy. My nick there, like most everywhere else, is "phlebas."

I started writing on Nov. 2, and after four days I'm just over 13,000 words, so it's moving along better than I expected. I believe it is already the third longest work of pornography featuring ocelots, horny priests, and a traveling production of Oliver! If I get to 50,000, it'll be the second longest. I cannot compete with the seminal (ha ha!) work in the genre: Saint Humberto the Sniffly wrote his eight-volume masterpiece Eu Estou Revendo a Situação Santamente do Ocelot (or I Am Reviewing the Holy Ocelot Situation) in 1963.

But 13,000 is respectable for less than a week. Good thing, too. I'll lose about four days at Thanksgiving for l-tryptophan poisoning and the Alabama/Auburn game. I think we should move this to March when there's nothing going on but St. Patrick's Day, hockey, and frakkin' basketball.

It's a great deal of fun, too. I've learned that not all of the novelists in the world are schizophrenic nutjobs when talking about their own works. For example, fiction writers often say things like "I had no idea my character was going to do that! I am as surprised as you are! I thought this one thing was going to happen, and this other person just strolled in and did this!" To most of the non-novelist world, this sounds fatuous, at best. (Insane, at worst.) Especially if that writer uses so many impersonal pronouns.

But I get it now. If you have your characters fully realized, at least in your head, and you drop them in a situation, you might intend to get to a specific outcome. But sometimes if you stay true to your characters, you can't get them there. You either have to change the initial situation or roll with the new outcome. Or you could completely insult your readers and not worry about it, but I can't imagine selling millions of copies of a book that awful.

This happened to me just yesterday. I got to the end of the scene, thinking "what the hell am I going to do now?" This particular scene would change my protagonist's motivation completely. See, when a priest loves an ocelot very much, he sometimes dresses as Fagin and [SPOILER ALERT]. I'm keeping the new scene, because I like this set of motives better, but I'll pay for it with some tricky emotional scenes down the line.

I am enjoying this, but I understand why some people write science books with plenty of pictures. (In an unrelated question, do all of you have a copy of Death from the Skies! yet?)

Stay tuned! I'll be back!

P.S. In CPAP news: I hate my damn CPAP. I have yet to get a full night's sleep, and I've had the stupid thing for almost a month. I had to take a few days off from it because I needed the rest, and then I had a head cold. Sneezing in a mask would be like a SCUBA diver barfing into his respirator. I've got another week, and maybe I can ditch it.

This has been this week's edition of Sinus Digest.

5 comments:

mikespeir said...

Well, I've got to say the moonslide was fascinating.

True, 13,000 words in less than a week is impressive, but I'd hardly call 50,000 words a novel. The shortest I've ever written was a bit over 80,000 and I feel a little sheepish about calling that a novel. The one I'm working on now is up to almost 208,000 (though I've been vomiting prose into it since July 4th) and I fear it will never end. They'll find me hunched over my keyboard, age 98, with the status bar showing 2,478,362 words and still not done. And they'll probably just delete it, anyway.

I do understand about how characters tend to wander off and do unexpected things. And I'm supposed to be the author, dang it! I understand how God feels, I think; or, rather, how he would feel if he were more than a fictional protagonist himself.

So, are we going to get to read your "novel" when you're done?

The Man Version said...

That moonslide was neat, wasn't it? Phil finds some amazing pictures to intersperse with the clearly Photoshopped pics of him hugging Felicia Day.

I agree that 50,000 words is at best a short novel. I'm not sure of the dividing line between a novel and a novella. I should look that up. I'm just over a quarter of the way to the target word count, and I feel like I'm just finishing the introduction.

As for letting anyone else read it, I probably will. I got the idea from a song, and I want to show it to the songwriter first before I just chuck it out there. I doubt he'll have a problem with it, since I'm not doing this for money and I will completely fess up where it came from.

Have you had any of yours published?

mikespeir said...

Published? Ha! I once self-published one at the insistence of my son.

There's too much competition out there; too many writers with actual talent. I do fancy that my stories will gain me a kind of immortality among my direct descendants.

"Gramps? Wasn't he the one who wrote thos--"

"Now, you just forget about those, boy! He wasn't all bad."

Artful Dodger said...

I would be doing that write a book in month thing, but two things have gotten in my way (well, really three things). Most important is the fact that I am a crappy writer. I have had that great police procedural going for the last six years and I am still re-writing the first chapter. 50,000 words in a month? I don't think so. Second, November is really not the best of months for writing. The leaves are turning, there is that last mowing in the pasture before winter, the veggie garden has to be bunkered. Well, you get the idea. March would be good, but the veggie garden needs to be tilled and mulched in preparation for spring...well, you get the idea. And, of course, I recently got into a pissing contest over in the comments section of Skeptchicks (under a different name) that has taken up my time recently. So, maybe I'll get to the novel next month? 2013? I dunno.

Sorry you're having mask problems. I was talking to the Lone Ranger about the same problem the other day and he was talking about trail dust and such, so I think I understand. At least you don't have some guy yelling Kemo-whatever over your shoulder. Although I have to take what he says with something of a grain of salt since he's, what, 167 years old? He probably wasn't being politically correct in his conversation either.

Hang in there

Artful Dodger said...

Well, how was it?