NaNoWriPrep 2018

It seems that in my neglect of this site I forgot to post last year’s NaNoWriMo Prep post prior to Nov 2017. I only just realized after diving back in to prep for another year.

SO… No time like the present—what have we done this year, and what’s on tap for November?

Well, that book I started last year was the first one in 6+ years that I finished beginning to end. Except for my first NaNoWriMo novel started in 2011, and completed while on paternity leave in 2012, all my other full-length works have rambled on, trodden off their plotted paths, and wound up on a pile marked don’t touch this until you’ve FINISHED something else. Also, Beware of the Leopard. 

The signs on that slush pile of unfinished work have helped me focus. NOTE: This blog was also on said pile. I have only resurrected it in order to put the finishing touches on something I’ve finished. (more on that later)

Back to the 2017 book. Tentatively titled The Howe, it’s a post-apocalyptic magical realism plot that takes place in some very real settings. I’m fairly proud of it. As I now go back over the themes in 20/20 hindsight I see some nice sparkly bits that I can polish. In fact—one funny anecdote about that book—I used the parable of the sower, a pretty common bible verse, in one part, and decided to use it as a theme for the hard choices people need to make to rebuild society in dark times. Little did I know that the late, great Octavia E. Butler had done the same thing with her Earthseed book, titled Parable of the Sower no less. In June, after finishing my first draft in April, I found and read this work, and now I have an homage that I didn’t even realize I was writing. So there’s that…

What else have I done in the writing world of Harry’s head over the last year? Well, In July and early august I wrote a novelette-length piece about a summer camp for teenage serial killers. The people in that story bear absolutely no resemblance to my Camp NaNoWriMo cabin mates. None whatsoever. None.

Also, I’ve finished the first full pass at editing my 2011 novel. That book sat in mostly-first-draft form for 5 years or so until I finally pulled it back out and made a concerted effort to fix the whole thing. In 2016 I made it through the first 2 acts, and the last act and climax is now done. Thus begins the NEXT pass at building on the themes and making it into a cohesive and compelling story. I’ve been working with a wonderful group of like-minded writers and going chapter by chapter through our books. These will be the first people for 7 years to read this book. I’m super excited to share it, and the feedback I’m getting is outstanding. There’s a light at the end of that tunnel.

Now, I know that tunnel only comes out from under one mountain in the range, and the next tunnel of querying agents, and/or generally finding a market for that book is a longer and scarier one to travel. Still, one day at a time.

But what about your short stories, Harry? You may ask.

Well, glad you asked.

I managed to start a whole slew of them, but much as with the novel-length work, I can count on one hand the finished ones. That lead to my goal for Camp NaNo this year of finishing at least 3 of those. That goal went out the window, however, and I wound up writing one novelette instead. A totally new one. But at least I finished it!

Lastly I managed to finish another work of short-story length that I don’t think suits standard publishing media. By “finish” in this case I mean it sort of fell into my lap. Again, more on that later.

That brings us up to the present, and the title of this post. Prep for NaNoWriMo 2018.

This year, having “finished” several things this year, and with a process and schedule laid out for finishing several more, I plan on dusting off those other unfinished novels from 2014 and 2015. The first one in particular still calls to me on a regular basis. We chat, talk about the old times; we wonder about getting the band back together. I left it in the run-up to the climax, and with 4 years of history added into the mix I think I have the material I need to finish it off.

Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you look at it, one of the characters was not-so-loosely based on a certain physics professor of notable fame who was recently disgraced and ousted from public view via the #metoo movement. On the one hand, the character I wrote was very true to the real person even in this new light, and I had quite a bit of fun at his expense in the novel. On the other hand, I’d rather not bring any more attention to that person. He deserves none, and so I’ll be rewriting that section of the book.

That’s it for now. This post was partially a test of the new WordPress template in anticipation of the Other Finished Thing® of earlier note. I’ll leave you with a picture of this year’s (aka 2014’s) novel cover art by Cicely Lawson. She also did the art for Core Logic. We had a lot of fun talking through the feel of these books and trying to capture that in a book design. I can look back at these any time I’m writing and I’m immediately transported to that place.

Happy 2018. Please Vote.