24 November 2010 - 10:29 am

Writing like crazy: this year’s NaNoWriMo

I can’t believe it’s nearly the end of November and I haven’t talked about NaNoWriMo yet! I need to get better at updating this blog. Bad me, no biscuit.

This is my fourth year taking part in NaNoWriMo. For those of you unfamiliar with it, it’s a mad challenge to write 50,000 words in November. It’s the best fun, completely exhausting, and wonderful for ploughing through that project you’ve been putting off all year.

Of course, I crank the pressure up to a hundred by acting as an ML (Municipal Liaison) and organising all the local events and get-togethers. Yes, on top of working full-time, writing 50,000 words, and dealing with my CFS. Yes, I’m nuts.

This year, the turnout has been astounding. Over 950 people in my region for me to look after, and event attendance is up to double what it was last year. It’s all a bit bewildering at times, but we’re making it all work and having a great time doing it. I’ve met so many new people that my ability to retain names is completely retarded, and I caught up with lots of familiar faces from previous NaNos.

My co-ML and I have been ambitious this year, organising prizes and competitions and all kinds of extra stuff for the writers in our region. We’ve had several write-ins every week, all over the city and surrounding areas, and big BBQs to organise.

We even had one write-in on the local trains, travelling around the city, collecting writers as we went and writing like mad. It was hilarious and everyone enjoyed themselves, and I actually got quite a bit written. Definitely one we’ll try again, and I have another idea for a similar roving write-in for next year.

The past few weeks have been a blur of organising, travelling, working, and running events, but it’s all gone great so far! What’s terrifying it that I think we might try to top it next year. At which point I suspect my head might explode.

On the actual writing side, things have been more mixed for me. Due to the crazy schedule I’ve been keeping, I’ve wound up having blitz writing days, and then gaps when I was catching my breath or too tired to form sentences.

I had a pretty clear idea about what I wanted to do this year. The timing actually worked out pretty well for me – I finished the first book of Starwalker early in October, and took a break in the lead-up to the NaNo madness, and then ploughed into Book 2 on 1st November.

But when I got into the meat of the first section of Book 2 (nominally named ‘Slave’), I realised that I hadn’t planned it out anywhere as much as I would have liked. Normally this isn’t a problem – I work a lot of stuff out as I go and see where it all takes me. But with the momentum of NaNo behind me, driving me to up that wordcount, I didn’t have time to stop and ponder. And because the bulk of my writing (in fact, all of it so far) has been done away from an internet connection, I couldn’t stop and research the little details like what star system they are visiting next.

It isn’t going to plan. Just like Book 1, Book 2 has six sections or chapters planned out. I’m almost to 50,ooo words and I haven’t finished the Slave section yet. I had to stop a week or so ago and go back, adding in notes about things I wanted to put in or change. Book 1 was just over 100,000 words.

Yet again, it looks like the story is not taking the shape I thought it would. And, actually, that’s fine. When I realised where it was all going, I took a pause to think about it, and I think it’s all just fine. ‘Slave’ looks like it will end up being the majority of Book 2, along with the section that is due to follow it. Which leaves the remaining four planned sections for Book 3.

Holy crap, there’s going to be a Book 3.

With that decided, I now have lots of scope to go back and fill things out. I will probably end up breaking down ‘Slave’ into several smaller parts, but that’s something I’ll worry about later. Right now, I’m excited to hit the NaNo target, so that I can go back and edit the guts out of what I’ve got. And by ‘edit’, I mean ‘rewrite and expand’. And fill in the details that I had left, like the names of new characters and that star system that I still have to look up.

And, just to be annoying, I heard of a magazine that wants horror scifi stories. Which got my overactive imagination going, and so I’ve been working on that when I get too braindead on the main Starwalker run. The story I’m working on is set in the Starwalker universe and connected to the events in Book 2. Never done horror before, so this is a new endeavour for me.

In all, I am doing okay, and looking forward to December. I have the last two days of November off work, and can’t wait to sleep, recuperate, and come back at it all fresh.

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  1. Meaghan says:

    What do you mean you’ve never done horror before???? If the Apocalypse Blog wasn’t horror, I don’t know what is. It certainly kept me up nights – reading because it was awesome!! And because zombie death rain is quite scary!! I think you underestimate the depth of your talent Melanie…. and I sure would like to read more horror from you.

    December 8th, 2010 at 12:55 am

  2. Mel says:

    Wow, thank you, Meaghan! (Sorry I didn’t reply earlier)

    I guess that parts of the Apocalypse Blog do count as horror! Sometimes I forget to classify it that way.

    Wow, I’d better get back to that story. Let’s see if I can finish it!

    December 23rd, 2010 at 12:14 pm