Hey, Talen, are you doing Nanowrimo this year? Oh? Oh. Oh, okay.
NanoWriMo and I have a weird relationship in that I’ve known about it for about seven years but last year was the first year I bothered to actually give it a shot. What’s more, last year was the year I was also writing another book at the same time, and writing Game Pile reviews and I was studying for my end-of-year exams, a net workload that at the time I felt would have crushed me, but which I, as it happened, retaliated by crushing it first. I wrote my entire Nano in eight days, a statistic that I will now rub in with this chart:
Now this made me feel very special and cool at the time, and that feeling lasted for maybe a few more days until I realised two things. One, that I received absolutely no special cookie for what I had done, and two, that even as much as I liked the story and as short, tropey and fun as I wanted it to be, it still had problems that I wasn’t really fixing. My first NanoWriMo did however give me a taste for what I could do if I planned ahead and had a clear, deliberate structure. While the Sixth Age of Sand is an unfocused mess of a story with only two or three highlights, I felt that Immortal Engine was a story which clearly knew what it wanted to be about and was building towards it.
I had all sorts of possible plans for Nanowrimo this year, which I felt was a really good exercise for a particular type of novel. For some folk, Nano is the urge to get off the couch and finish a novel, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem I have. While I still have a number of Nano concepts kicking around we run skidding headlong into my new problem that flows from this:
Almost Nobody Reads My Work.
I’m sorry, I know that might sound petulant but trust me it’s not. It’s not that I’m mad at people for not reading my work, it’s that I very realistically have to face that writing a novel in eight days is all people know about it. I have written a novel in eight days and there are friends of mine who couldn’t write a novel in that whole month. By finishing early I saw people flagging and despairing of my progress, people who I did not want to discourage. What I took from that, at the time, was that I should, at the very least, not be such of a showy smart-arse, while, if I wanted my stuff to be read, I was going to have to get a lot better at making sure people saw what I was doing.
With that in mind I thought I’d start my NanoWrimo late. No harm in that, right? I finished I’d finish my classwork (which turned out to be very stressful and hard). Then I’d finish One Stone for the month, backlog those, and then, sometime around the 20th of the month, I’d start on my NanoWrimo and nobody would feel like I was showing off if I finished it. And if I did finish it… it would probably just be another feeling of…
‘Hey he finished a book in eight days.’
‘Hey, neat. Should we read it?’
Again, there is nothing wrong with not reading my work. I can’t stress this enough. It’s not that I resent people for not reading my work. It’s that connecting with readers is the problem I have, as a writer, right now, not an inability to finish a story.
I try to encourage everyone I know to create and it has, to some extent, had some success, but despite writing pretty much constantly for years now I find my own ability to reach readers – that is, people who want to read my stuff and not out of any emotional obligation – is embarassingly weak.
So with that in mind, I instead decided to finish One Stone. Then when I did that… maybe I’d see about giving a NanoWrimo a try. As of a few hours ago, I did that. Chapters go up normally. There are seven days left in the month. I have, this month, already written about 40k words of pure fiction. I am, in my own mind, quite done with NanoWrimo’s parameters.
But I will have a see if I produce anything else for the month. A few of these ideas, after all… are pretty fun.
Just… don’t hold your breath. We’ll see.