Maybe This Time…

I try to participate in Nanowrimo every year.

By that I mean, I get at least one hour down the pike before giving up. Sometimes I get a couple thousand words in. And a few times I’ve gone all-in, and finished that novel with hours to spare.

I’m subscribed to the OLL blog and last year I was pretty active in my little writing group here in Copenhagen. During (and after) the Big Event, I kept hearing about these amazing people who had not only managed to write a novel in a month, but had managed to rework it, polish it, edit it, send it off to an agent or publisher, and sell it. Some of the people in my writing group were preparing to self-publish their work.

All this made me take a long, hard look at my previous novels. What I found was – lack.

Nanowrimo Novel Number 1: I seem to recall I started on this one rather late. A young man receives a very rare book from his dead grandfather, along with a note saying he has to protect it at all costs. In finding out what, exactly, the book is, why some people want to destroy it and others want to protect it, he ends up getting into all kinds of trouble.
What it lacked: Substance, really. While my main character did a lot of things, I don’t think I ever clearly explained why it was he had to do them, who was after his book, or what it was all about. It was an entertaining story but I’m not sure I’ll revisit it.

Nanowrimo Novel Number 2: It took me four years to complete a Nano challenge again. I’ll admit I was a little surprised, since I had no idea what I was doing and had absolutely no plan until November 1. My story centered around a vampire protagonist who was the main villain of a gothic novel – only she didn’t want to be the bad guy. The book followed her efforts to become self-aware and change the plot, with the help of some (and hindrance of other) secondary characters.
What it lacked: Although I enjoyed writing it as a humorous piece, I don’t think this will make it to a publishing house in its current incarnation, because it lacks originality. A vampire we can sympathize with? Been there, done that. Characters of a novel becoming self-aware? Likewise. It was fun to write a mock gothic novel, but the angle isn’t enough. I’ve got plans for changing this one, but not this Nanowrimo.

Nanowrimo Novel Number 3: Emboldened by my success the previous year, I decided to try re-writing the second novel I ever completed. When I was 16, I produced an irritating, plotless adventure that even I didn’t really understand. It focused on a young girl who had a singular magical ability, and forged an unlikely and disapproved of friendship with the nearby magician’s son. I then spent the next six years trying to figure out what to do with it. I always liked the characters, but needed something more substantial for them than the wandering adventure that I had. So I made her the subject of an early-teen marriage to an older man, had them placed in a powerful position at some foreign court, and put in some mystery. Oh, and then I killed her.
What it lacked: I liked the way the manuscript started. Unfortunately, I had no idea what to do from there. The decision to add in a little murder came towards the end, and then I realized what I really wanted – my novel was supposed to start with the murder. That led to something entirely different that won’t resemble, in any way, the mess I began six years ago. This manuscript lacked certainty. It’s something I hope to bring back to its latest incarnation – and maybe I’ll finish it this time.

This year’s novel: After a little tribulation, I decided to go with what I described in my book blurb # 1. It’s not the most original premise of the ones I posted, but I picked it because it has strong characters. That means they won’t be waffling around while I’m trying to figure out where the plot goes next. I have a clear picture of them all in my mind, so I won’t have to force actions on them or think up a reason or two. The plot doesn’t really have an unsolved mystery, which I’d have to figure out before the end, and it doesn’t have complicated magic, science or world views.

I’ll be blogging daily during Nanowrimo, in an attempt to stick to my word count. I’ll probably vent some frustrations about writers block, the cafe where I’ll do most of my morning writing, balancing Nano and thesis, and so on. I know that there are fellow Nano’ers out there in the blogosphere; maybe we can all put together a support group of some kind.

Anyone interested in Nano support, let’s hear it. Problems in previous years, trends you’ve noticed, suggestions for some kind of group…

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What I Have Been Doing Lately, and a Call for Artists

So, first off:

I realized today that I have missed the last two or three posting deadlines. I wanted to put up another chapter and maybe another book blurb. I in fact have something vaguely chapter-like written up on my favourite writing site. But I don’t want to post it without giving it a good look-over. And I haven’t had time to do that.

On Friday I will by flying to Sofia, Bulgaria to give a presentation on ancient Egyptian mortuary texts. The presentation will be less exciting than it sounds, I assure you. I have  been hectically preparing it all week, in addition to the thesis preparation I have been doing for my advisor. I am happy to say that my presentation is essentially ready, and my thesis pages will be sent off first thing tomorrow morning.

So now you all know what I have been doing rather than engaging in more entertaining pursuits. Real life is so tedious when you’d rather be writing. And I haven’t even got to real life yet. I’m still stuck in the student life.

Regrettably, I don’t see myself posting prior to about a week from now. If I’m overwhelmingly bored in Bulgaria, I may find the time to concoct a book blurb or spare piece of prose.

And now, to the second part:

I don’t think my blog has enough art.

I like art, of just about any variety. It inspires me. It’s fun to look at. It breaks up long lines of prose.

I can’t do art.

So if there’s anyone who would like to have their art put up on a blog, feel free to contact me. I’ve added a page over in navigation with details on what I’m looking for.

Travelling to England and a Hopeful Piece for this Blog

As much as I’d like to be posting a crisp, clean chapter (I feel as though it has been far too long), right now I feel a bit like a train wreck. Last night my boss scheduled me to work from 8:30 PM until around 2 AM. I had to catch a night bus home, then get up at ten minutes to five in order to catch my plane.

Which means: I’m in England! Hooray!

I am currently staying with another wonderful writing friend, catching up on old times. She has a beautiful poetry/photo blog worth taking a look at. I am trying not to fall asleep. In a minute I’ll probably give up.

The main purpose for my visit to England is to go to a wedding in Taunton. Two old university friends will finally be tying the knot, and I’ll get to meet a lot of people that I haven’t seen in years and re-engage with them. I also hope to write about the experience. Poem, short story, I don’t know what yet. But if I’m successful, it’ll be up here Tuesday.

I also have to do research while I’m in the UK, so I don’t know how many chapters I’ll be able to write. But at least I can try for another book blurb or two. Maybe that’s what the wedding will give me – my nanowrimo novel.

Does anyone else find other people’s weddings stressful? Difficult? The stuff of stories?

(Hopefully Not Very) Problematic Updates: Travels in the Near Future

So today I have no new chapters, and I won’t have them next week either. I’m not sure whether I’ll be posting next week, in fact, because I’m going to Venice! Hooray!

It will be a welcome change from the rainy Danish summer, and a welcome change from work. My professor is pleased with my thesis progress, so I don’t feel bad about taking a week off there. The guy I’m writing a web shop for can’t pay me yet, so I don’t mind taking a week off there. And in my last week of tour guiding, I was first verbally abused by a passer-by not even on my tour, and the next day I had to take an emergency shift totally unprepared. So I don’t mind taking a week off there.

I will definitely be writing a lot about Venice and Florence. I may try to take some pictures, although I am a notoriously bad picture-taker. If time and the internet permit, I’ll be able to post as normal next week. But if not, I’ll try to post another chapter of Tracks when I get back, as well as some cool Venice-Florence thoughts.

Problematic Updates

I thought that updating would be a simple matter. Twice a week, I thought. That should be easy enough. After all, I write every day and so I have seven days in which to get all of my material together.

Now, of course, I’m not sure what I was thinking. Updating twice a week has almost always been a matter of going down to the wire. I’ve always woken up on Tuesday or Thursday morning wondering how I’m going to manage it. And every Thursday, when I’ve made my last post, I promise myself that over the weekend I’ll get a good backlog going and this time, I’ll be really prepared for Tuesday.

Every single time. I never learn.

The facts are that I have three jobs and I’m writing my Master’s thesis. On Mondays I work for my professor. Thursday through Sunday, I give guided walking tours around Copenhagen. In the evenings I’m often too exhausted to write and when I have extra time during the day, I’m either hurriedly collecting research or I’m working on my THIRD job, content writing for a web site that needs to go live in September.

I’m never short of ideas, only on time. I’m hoping to get a chapter together by Thursday, or at least some kind of complaining poem. Thanks to any readers who are sticking it out with me. I hope my life becomes a lot less hectic soon, and I can focus on my writing.