November 29, 2014

Horse 1794 - Thirty Days Of Madness #NaNoWriMo
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.
- About, NaNoWriMo

As the blurb above suggests, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a website and an event of sorts where the task is to write a 50,000 word novel in a month? Sounds difficult? Not really.
As a blog writer who already turns out posts on a fairly regular basis, 50,000 words only equates to 1666 words a day. I can tell you that the actual writing of 1666 words a day is not particularly arduous at all. It actually works out to be about 3 or four pages a day.
What do you win if you complete the task of 50,000 words in a month? This:

Not much of a prize is it?
Actually, if you were just concerned about writing 50,000 words, you could write "I am a Fish" 12,500 times and submit that for verification and you'd still win. If this is true, then the prize of a picture of a cup with a tick on it, seems rather hollow. Clearly the prize is having a 50,000 word novel and/or possibly the fame and ovation of the people forever.

Is 50,000 words enough though? If you count "The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe" by CS Lewis at just 36,363 words, "Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury at 46,118 words or "The Great Gatsby" at 47,094 words as pieces of great literature, then clearly it is.

The question then is not one of word length but of quality and that is far harder to gauge. Most of Earnest Hemingway’s novels are pretty short and a "Breakfast at Tiffany's" by Truman Capote at just 26,433 words is generally considered to be a novella.

So what did I get from NaNoWriMo 2014? Two things:
1. A story which I think works pretty well in itself but more importantly:
2. A little world.

I found that as I was writing this year's novel, I had to think about how it all would fit together. This year's novel without giving too much away, required me to mentally build an entire country in Eastern Europe. I can know tell you about its system of government, what the major cities are, who the television stations are and even what some of its industries are.

Having now done this twice, I would suggest that if November is National Novel Writing Month, then October should be National Novel Planning Month and September be National Novel Dreaming Month.
I'm also aware that I tend to be more engaged and able to write if I'm either angry or annoyed. Even inside a novel, conflict is the currency that lets you buy plot coupons. If you get stuck, then get angry; use that to generate more conflict and buy even more plot coupons. That process is how I got from Day 4 and the first major milestone of 10,000 words to 26,000 and how after getting stuck and hitting the mental roadblock ate 34,000 words, I was able to buy enough plot coupons to take the story to 50,000 and claim my cup with a tick on it.

Like last year when after it was finished I thought: "Stick a fork in it, it's done", this year on the 29yj of November, I don't want to even look at it anymore. Probably in a fortnight after the storm or writing has passed and the amber glow of serenity appears, I'll revisit it and then edit it before putting it up for sale.

Being a published author isn't something I necessarily wanted to be when I grew up and even now I can see that it's not even a remotely reliable way of making a living; now that editors and publishers slush piles are practically non-existent. However, I can now say that I've written two novels, the equivalent of a graphic novel and if I were to compile a stack of blog posts, there'd be a fourth book (if Jeremy Clarkson can become a best seller by compiling columns he's already written, why not?).

What do you win if you complete the task of 50,000 words in a month? A novel; that's it; that's all; nothing more; nothing less.

Aside, this is the book I wrote in 2013. Five months after I wrote it, I decided that it wasn't terrible:

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