Like many other authors out there I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo again this year. In other words, don’t expect much from me this month. When I’m not in a caffeine induced craze of keyboard abuse I’m either sleeping (less than usual), working (less than usual), and/or (usually and) thinking about my novel.
This year I wasn’t sure until almost the last minute if I was going to make another attempt at writing 50,000 words in 30 days. Both of my past attempts were “successful” by NaNoWriMo standards, but I’ve never been able to get them past that standard and to a point where I’d say they’re publishable.
In 2011 I poured the anticipation soon to be fatherhood into a pretty decent bit of sci-fi. I consider it “code-complete” in software development terms. It’s sitting in Scrivener at a comfortable 87,000 words, and it has all the elements I want to have in the story, but it’s full of bugs in more ways than one. (Trust me that last statement is hilarious if you’ve read any of it.)
It still graces my editing desk whenever I have time to write (outside of November), but 4 years later I know much more about writing than I did back then. Today I can see its very obvious flaws and editing/rewriting needs as something as big or bigger than the effort to originally write the thing. Where is NaNoEdMo when you need it?
Last year I took another crack at a new novel, and I did it again. This time I made it to 57,000 words (Winner!) but sputtered out before the story was complete. This time I think the parts I did write were much better. I was more prepared. I actually had the whole thing plotted out. Plus I was challenging myself to grow as a writer by picking something not easy. I attempted to write dark comedy, and about 80% through the story it was just dark. Needless to say now that one too graces my computer screen on a regular basis.
This year I made a resolution to get better at writing throughout the year, to make more of an effort toward putting out publishable material. To that end I wrote more short stories. I even sent one to a publication. It got rejected, but with great feedback. When you get any feedback from those things it’s a bit of an accomplishment. Form letter rejections are the norm, so feedback means you made the first cut.
This year I also found myself writing to a younger audience. The beetle story is pretty much done, and I think it’s awesome. It needs a publisher and an illustrator. There’s all sorts of opportunities for that thing that have me pretty excited. And so with NaNoWriMo this year I’m challenging myself again, this time to write YA urban fantasy.
I had an idea sitting in my catalog that I marked as “novel worthy”. In fact it’s multi-novel worthy if I pull it off right. It’s a bit of a cross between Harry Potter and Indiana Jones with a bit of Highlander mixed in. I won’t go too deep into the plotline here, frankly I should be writing it instead of this right now, but our main character is going to gain powers by obtaining an object. There are several such objects in the world and many are questing to get them and fighting to steal them from one another. The character will start out young, a pre-teen in the first book, and we’ll follow along as they come of age. I think I can get a separate book out of every object of power.
The other thing I’m challenging myself to do is write in the first person with a genderless narrator. Since the character is starting out young I don’t need to get into topics that concern gender identity in the first book. (S)he is whomever you want to transpose. If you as a young reader want to hear the main character in your own voice, then it shouldn’t matter who you are. I’m taking a few cues from John Scalzi on this one. His recent novel Lock In involved a character embodying a robot, where the gender of the character was meaningless to the story, and so it was left out. He went so far as to have two readers, one male and one female read the audiobook editions. I love that.
So that’s it. I’m a week into the madness and humming along on schedule. Wish me luck. See you in December.