Sunday, December 6, 2009

Failed NaNoWriMo

As promised at the end of October, I said I was going to write a novel for National Novel Writing Month. 50,000 words in 30 days. 50,000 words is about 175 pages, or how long "The Great Gatsby" and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" are. 40,000 words a novel does make (so I've heard), but 50,000 is a more well-rounded number, I suppose. That works out to 1,667 words a day, which sounds like a lot, but is really no more than a solid 2 hours of typing.

The site features a word count tracker I used daily to update my word count. I wrote in Firefox, actually (yes, the web browser) in a personal wiki. I would then copy the text to a text editor, which did the word counting.

I stayed ahead of the daily quota for the first half of the month. At home, my computer's power supply gave out, so I had to do all of my writing at work. Then, they had me babysitting rookies at work, including one who refused to do anything but look over my shoulder, so I actually got next to zero writing time for the whole last third of the month. The following chart shows my daily quotas, and you can see where not having a computer at home and people hovering over the one at work nearly halted my progress. Still, I wrote when I could, and finished November at 40,090 words.

I do not intend to make excuses for why I didn't finish. I did not really set out at the beginning of November to write 50,000 words. Realistically, I could have done 50,000 by the middle of the month, before all that BS. discourages quality, favoring quantity. I could not accept that, and was constantly editing. But I was over quota each day, sometimes over quota well into the week. I wanted to make the 50,000, but the 50,000 will get written, and then some. And when it's done, I won't have 50,000 words of crap, I'll have a marketable first draft I can possibly sell to a publisher. Publishing, not word count, is my goal. Money isn't really the goal, either. If I can pay off all I owe and get my finances into the red, hey, that'd be awesome. I've just had this story in my head since 1992, and I need to clear room for other stuff. If I can make some money off it, that'd be cool. I'm not sure I have what it takes to make a living off writing. If I can find a publisher to disagree with me, maybe I'll take less hours at work and make writing a full-time gig, but that's not really what I'm going for, though I do have a few other story ideas.

I'm going to keep many of the details under wraps, as it is a somewhat secret project, as I do intend to publish this someday. I will say that the story will not be finished when I reach 50,000 words. Where I am in the story, it looks like it will be around 75,000 words. So like, 263 pages in a paperback. Still pretty weak, but I can always go back and pad it some. Many writers do this; as I understand, most start with an outline and expand it gradually until it's a story. Me, I started from the top and worked my way down.

Each chapter is one day in the present events of the story, but it can, and often does, include flashbacks and recollections going back days, weeks, years -- even decades. The genre is fantasy, but I'm trying to focus less on the cliche magic and mythology stuff and more on human issues and interactions. Also, I'm not trying to rewrite Lord of the Rings or anything. I have a pretty unique idea, and it'll be easy to follow, or at least, no harder than necessary.

Anyway, I am still working on the novel. NaNoWriMo pushed me to write 1,667 words or more each day, and without that push, I've fallen off a little bit, but I'm still committed to finish. Eventually, I will finish.

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