NaNoWriMo: Challenge Completed

Current Total:  52,019

I have completed the fifty thousand word challenge.  That’s it, I’m done.  Not with my novel – far from it – but with the challenge that NaNoWriMo puts before us all.  My final total reflects a spurt of writing that I did over two days while sick in bed with the flu, and – wow – I had no idea I had written so much in forty-five minutes spurts between naps, short dog walks, food, tea, and shower breaks.  Really, I was outlining scenes more than writing them because I had ideas I did not want to lose, and no energy with which to complete them.  Discovering my word count this afternoon was quite a pleasant surprise.

So now that the sprint is finished, the real work begins.

NaNoWriMo gives me inspiration to write, but I cannot imagine anyone with any clout will reach fifty thousand words and say, “It’s a masterpiece!  It’s ready to be published now!”  In fact, with very few exceptions, it’s the first of many dozens of drafts, always assuming the NaNo Winner in question realizes the work it takes to produce a well-written and interesting novel.  I’m still learning, myself.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great that self-publishing takes the monopoly of storytelling away from publishers who seem to only be interested in certain kinds of stories with certain kinds of heroes, and certain types of love interests between very specific genders.  It’s terrible that we’ve allowed a relatively small number of groups to determine the future of our cultural contributions, and what stories will be remembered versus what stories will be lost, all based on what will sell to the masses.

I love the idea of self-publishing, but I dislike the reality of it.  I, like many others, have spent money on self-published novels, only to set them aside several chapters in unable to wade any further into the bogs of spelling errors, grammar errors, and inept sentence structure.  No doubt there is a good story behind all of these dangling distractions, but readers need to be told the story through the well-written and properly edited medium that is published writing.  They should not have to try to decipher it from within massive amounts of run-on sentences, sentence fragments, repetitive wording, spelling and grammar errors, needless scenes, redundant characters, and awkward dialogue.  The point of a novel – the job of every storyteller – is to tell the reader the story without forcing them to search through all of your errors or needless side-stories to find the overarching theme.

I wish I could be less negative about self-publishing, because I really want it to work as a medium for stories that go against our current ‘socially acceptable’ norms.  The problem is that so many authors are using it as an easy way out.  Anyone can now call themselves a ‘published author’ because of the relative ease and low-cost of this era’s publishing opportunities, but that doesn’t mean their story should have been published in its current form – if at all.

Now, to be fair, we are also seeing a lot of poorly written stories being published by modern publishing houses, as well.  So how do we deal with this lack of quality?  My answer to this question is that we do it with our words.  That book you purchased that you couldn’t put down because it was so cleverly and masterfully written?  Tell everyone what you loved about it, and why.  In fact, ask yourself why it was so compelling, and what drew you in and kept you interested.  Did it make you tear up in places, or smile in others?  Did it reach into your chest, and squeeze your heart until you thought it would burst?  How and why?  Tell others about these things.

Alternatively, if that book you picked up is so horrible you’re not sure your sanity can take reading further, return it, and tell everyone you can reach your exact reasons for disliking the story.  I don’t mean flaming the author, by any means.  I am referring to constructive responses such as “Once you get past the sentence fragments and repetitive wording, which are quite distracting and difficult to read through, you’ll find that this story is demeaning to women because, if the main character is any judge, the writer is telling us that a woman simply cannot accomplish anything in life – even just surviving from one day to the next – without having to depend on a man for their existence as well as for their happiness’ (the Twilight Series).

There are two authors I can think of off the top of my head who are regularly published by major publishing houses who write poorly.  Perhaps their stories are interesting.  I don’t know because I cannot get through the errors of sentence structure and grammar, or the constant repetition of words and phrases that an online thesaurus could have easily prevented.  These authors make a lot of money without seeming to try to hard, proving that adage that tells us ‘It’s all about who you know.’

Why should self-publishing be any different or better?  Because we, as consumers and as writers, should be demanding better quality for our money and for our art.  We should be outraged when poorly written stories are lauded, and infuriated when we purchase a book that still has pointless sentence structure and grammar errors.  Every rule is meant to be broken if there is an artistic reason for it, yes, but watching people who clearly don’t understand the rule, let alone why they’ve broken it, get applause for shoddy work should not be tolerated by the writing community as a whole.  We should be striving toward a body of work with higher quality, not settling for lower quality just to get it published, and we should be demanding that others in our field do the same.  There is no excuse for giving up before a draft is perfect because you’ve decided that ‘It’s as good as it’s going to get.’  (After all, that’s for an editor to decide.)

So, now that NaNoWriMo is over (for those of us who have reached the word count goal), it’s time to continue on, striving for quality and clarity.  And, above all, knowing that this is only the very beginning of a hell-of-a-lot of work that is the novel-writing process.

Thank you for reading, and have a lovely day.

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NaNoWriMo: Day 20

Written Today:  1,041
Current Total:  44,172

Well, I have begun writing scenes again.  This is a good sign, I think, even if it’s for another book.  Yea, I’ve given up fighting it, at this point.  If scenes are going to crawl out through my fingers, fully formed, I am not going to stop them.  Work continues, on three different novels.  I’ll be honest, I thought it was going to be harder to keep that many stories straight in my head, but they’re different enough that it seems not to be a problem, at the moment.  We’ll see what happens.

This update is quite short, I know, but I’m exhausted and I used the last of my energy to write that tidy, little word count up there.  So, I am calling it a night.  As always, thank you for reading, and may you have a lovely evening.

NaNoWriMo: Day 19

Written Today:  1,081
Current Total:  43,131

I must admit, I’ve hit a bit of a block with my novel.  I have spent the past month now world-building, and it has made me sick of this world I’ve dreamt up.  Apparently, this is when authors are most ready to begin work on their narrative, but I’ve been struggling with getting back into mine now that the grunt work of laying down the story’s foundations is mostly complete.  My mind keeps drifting off to other stories and other characters that do not fit into or exist within the constraints of my post-apocalyptic chronicles, and I’m debating whether or not to pull it back.

I also know that I haven’t updated in about a week at this stage, for which I apologize.  The fun thing about participating in NaNoWriMo as a college student is that things like school and work and life tend to swallow me whole every once in a while, and refuse to allow me access to the world outside of their walls long enough to write let alone update you wonderful readers about my progress.  I am, however, nearly done with the 50 thousand word goal, and though much of it is actually character and world building, I feel that this has been the most productive NaNoWriMo for me out of the four years I’ve participated.  Why?  Because even though I didn’t get much written that I feel might be usable in my novel, I feel better prepared to write the stories ahead than I ever have before.  Not to mention that I don’t feel as though I just wasted a bunch of time and 50 thousand words of effort on stuff that sucks or needs so much editing that I might as well begin anew.

I have a beginning.

Speaking of beginnings: the first theme for my 100 Theme Challenge has been posted.  Please, follow the link, and enjoy.

Thank you for reading, and have a lovely evening.

Inspiration

I’ve been bad this past week about updating my NaNoWriMo word count, I know.  Between work, school, and my dog having to visit the vet for the third time this month, I simply did not have the time to do much of anything.  I have been writing when I could fit it in, but in all cases I had no access to the internet, which is perhaps why I’ve been so productive.  For the curious, my word count has reached 41,243 words, and I intend to add more to that number today in between homework breaks and an evening with my dog and my girlfriend.

While looking around my other blog for location inspirations, I stumbled across a piece of writing that I had surprisingly not shared here.  It’s a bit old (written in July 2010), but I really liked it and was frankly thrilled that one of the pieces I wrote for an old RPG hadn’t been lost.  So I’m posting it here for you guys.  I call it ‘Inspiration.’

Continue reading

NaNoWriMo: Day 11

Written Today:  2,063
Current Total:  35,386

Minor NaNo Novel Update – I’ve defined a couple of character arcs, discovered a plot-path for my three main characters, and discovered that, really, this story might just span a few different books if I want to tell it right.  I keep doing this to myself.  Except for my very first novel, I keep starting on projects with one or two characters in mind, and finding that they are simply not sufficient to tell the whole story.  Since it is NaNoWriMo, I’m just going to let the stories come.  I can narrow them down later, and decide whose story is most important, who supports that story, and which characters can be eliminated or combined.  After that, if there are still substantial and interesting stories left untold, I’ll take those aside, and follow the same steps until I’ve run out of interesting and reader-friendly stories to tell about the world.  I think this is a good plan, anyway.  We shall see.

A somewhat major and lengthy life update related to why I am posting this update now, rather than last night, is located here.  In it, I discuss in detail for the first time my battles with codependency and depression, some of the issues from which they stem, a bit about what rock-bottom was like for me, and what led to my current improvements (however small they may currently be).

For my writing and NaNoWriMo followers, good luck on your second full week of writing!  I know it’s tough, but remember all you have to do is keep writing, whatever you get down, to win this battle.  You can do it!

Thank you for stopping by, and even more for reading.  I hope you have a lovely day!

NaNoWriMo: Day 10

Written Today:  6,302
Current Total:  32,749

Okay, I may have taken another pain-killer, and stayed up until around 4AM to write some more.  I couldn’t help it, I was on a role.  Now a big chunk of my fantasy elements have been fleshed out, and incorporated into the story.  Oh my goodness, I cannot wait to get back to it now!  I need to catch up on some homework though, so until it’s finished, I’m not allowed to write another word.  …okay, who am I kidding?  I’ll be writing during homework breaks today in 15 minute spurts to keep me working throughout the day.

I also woke up with fewer aches in my hands, but it’s difficult to tell if that means the flair-up is improving or if the pain-killer I took so late last night is responsible for this.  Either way, I’ll take advantage of it while I still can.

Remember, you can still get your name or a name of your choosing into my novel, but only for the next 3 days!  See this post for details, and go to this page to donate.  I’m really trying to get enough money to take my girlfriend to the Night of Writing Dangerously, as she’s never gone before, but I cannot do it without your help.

Good luck during the rest of the dreaded week 2, and on continuing your novels!  Thank you so much for reading, and have a lovely day.

NaNoWriMo: Day 9

Written Today:  16,926
Current Total:  26,447

Wow.  I just started writing this morning, and that happened.  The stiffness in my fingers and wrists protested quite a lot in the beginning so I took a pain killer.  It didn’t go away right off, but it felt a bit like the more I typed the looser the joints were becoming.  It was kind of neat, like I was working the stiffness out.  Then for a long time I forgot about my hands entirely, and just got to write.  Now my fingers are starting to get stiff again, but it’s okay because look what I have to show for it! 

My story is starting to develop a path, and, honestly, it’s not the one I initially thought it was going to be.  I’m quite excited!  The first appearance of the arriving threat has been written, and exoduses have begun.  I’m loving my story so, so much!  And – I’m halfway toward my NaNoWriMo goal!  It has been a good day of writing. 

…now I have to work on that homework I’ve been neglecting.  *wrinkles nose*

I hope everyone else’s day was as productive!  Thanks for reading, and have a lovely evening.