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The approach of April Fools (another words-in-a-month challenge) has brought me to the rational consideration of my NaNovel, the possibilities of finishing it, and the problems to be overcome if said goal is to be achieved.

So, I present to you: The Top Ten Reasons My NaNovel Sucks )

The thing is: I could fix all this. I know where I went wrong, and I could fix it all – I could write another fifty thousand words from different viewpoints with their own agendas and subplots, I could cut or rewrite huge swathes of what I’ve written, I could fill out the world to be beautiful and consistent and absorbing and packed with characters who each follow their own path and story, I could give my main character an agenda and a swift kick up the rear end, and I could definitely create tension of some sort from each scene to disconnected scene…

I could also go back and fix some of the worst exposition in His Son’s Father, do a thorough rewrite of the first chapters of The Promise Ring, spend the rest of my life finishing off my AF/HP crossover, and never move forward with my writing career.

Or, I could say “lesson learned” and move on. I could start another story that’s got a main character who’s built around his agenda rather than having it spliced in later, that’s in my chosen genre of fantasy rather than Sci-Fi, where my supporting cast don’t lose their own agendas and storylines in my fight to make my main character behave – and most of all, that has a real antagonist right from the first chapter.

Funnily enough, I’ve got a plot – and a world – in my head, that sounds remarkably like that. Not because I’ve twisted it to fit my new realisations, but when I came back for a look at it I was surprised at how many it fit. It’s been resident in my upper brain space for about three years, but I’ve never written more than a few snatches from it. Theoretically, it’s a prequel to the original story that’s been in my head for about five years – it started out as deep background for that and grew from there into a wonderful deep and complex quest. I’m starting to dream it, I’m starting to daydream it, I’m starting to have proper flashes of it. This is what I must write.

April is approaching fast. I’ll planning to have another attempt at April Fools, only this time I’ll do it because I know I can: and why aim for only fifteen thousand when I know I can write fifty thousand? All I need to do is get my Remix and my Toolbelt article out of the way in the meantime. Easy. *cough*

In other news, since I am officially abandoning my NaNovel, I’m coming good on my promise. Anyone interested in reading 50,000 words of abysmal, inconsistent, entirely unforeshadowed and utterly unpolished first draft, by an author who’s never written a new world or a set of original characters in her life is welcome to ask me for a copy of the document. I refuse to allow myself be ashamed to let people see it the vapid combination of blandness and melodrama that characterises all my first drafts – this is what NaNoWriMo is about, after all: exuberant imperfection, quantity not quality, making mistakes… so that next time around, I can hopefully give it a better go at avoiding them.

With that glowing review of Return to Sender out of the way, anyone who still wants a copy is welcome to let me know. :)
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A while ago, I had a dream.

It's still vivid in my head, almost a year later, when I cast my eye over my dream diary and came across it. )

Question: Does everyone have dreams like this? Not only a coherent story, but one that doesn't end properly? If so, how can you stop yourself from spinning a universe and the story of its characters in your head? How can you stop yourself from writing? Do you wake up and think “wow, that was an interesting story” and then just forget about it? Aren’t you desperate to work out what happens next? Or do you just not realise that that’s how you find out what happens next – you write it yourself?

Or is it a carry-over of having started writing in the first place in fandom that I feel compelled to write original fanfiction of my own dreams? I don't remember feeling like this about my dreams before I started writing...

I was surprised, during NaNo, that at no point in the proceedings did I actually dream myself into the world I was writing. It’s odd, because usually when I’m in a writing frenzy, I dream my characters and my situations, every night a total vivid immersion in the world of my imagination. They’re not always coherent stories like the above - and they're certainly seldom actual scenes that exactly slot in - but even if they’re just incoherent snatches of dialogue and the swirling colours of a setting, they contribute to my world-building and plotting and overall inspiration.

I wonder if the reason why I still haven’t really decided whether to bother with the huge amounts of editing my NaNovel will require is that I’ve never dreamed even the smallest bits of it. It’s obviously not a story that really catches my attention and my imagination if it’s not hijacking my subconscious – and can it really be a story worth telling if it doesn’t even catch the imagination of the author?

Maybe it isn’t yet. Maybe if I work on it some more, I’ll start to dream myself into it and it will become that story. Maybe, now I’ve got the basis there, I’ll be able to work my way up from that.

Or maybe I should just chalk November up to a valuable learning experience – and it was definitely that – and concentrate on writing something that does fire my imagination...


Nov. 25th, 2006 06:42 pm
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... I'm not sure if it's really sunk in yet.

Liek, woah.

I'm finished NaNoWriMo. )

And believe it or not, I'm actually finished the story, too, no matter how bad the chapter titles are.

All the sections I thought were going to keep blowing out to 60,000 words ended up being knocked off in 150 words or so, and by the time I was on the last one with 1000 words to go, I was totally panicking. Was I going to have to invent more story to get the darn thing over 50,000? It seems not, though, because... well, they brought me here.

Hurrah hurrah hurray, and all that.

See why I think it hasn't sunk in yet?

Tomorrow I'm going to have a day off, then I'll see if I can get a bit of editing done in the remainder of the month.

Oh, my goodness. It's starting to hit me.

I'm finished.

I'm done.



Nov. 22nd, 2006 10:05 pm
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Dear Subtlety,

Where have you gone? Why have you abandoned me?

Wasn't it enough that every extended metaphor I've tried so far has ended up three feet of carp thick? This scene I've just written that started with perfectly subtle humourous touch and ended up repeatedly bashing the reader over the head with nods and winks and taps on the nose, isn't it just going too far? How can you do this to me?

Is it something about writing so fast? Are you still chugging your way through the first few chapters, hoping to catch up with me as soon as you can? Or is it simply that when I'm writing quickly, a subtle or vaguely clever thought that goes through eight rephrasings in my mind ends up with every single one of them on the page, rather than having the best one selected?

Are you just off on a beach somewhere sipping Mai Tais with my Inner Editor? Will you be back in December when he comes back, or have I lost you forever?

Is there any hope left for the two of us?

Wishing you were here,
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I’m on 30,000, and I think I’ve finally got my second wind.

A few thousand words ago (ie. yesterday) I was really hitting the wall here.

My characters suck, my plot sucks, my whole sense of subtlety/melodrama sucks, and I keep having to herd it back from the direction it wants to twist, because I had no idea that adding a single mild torture scene would immediately make my plot head for a direct echo of V for Vendetta with all the enthusiasm of a guided missile. I don’t want it to go there, because aside from the whole plagiarism thing, the scenes that attempt to support that kind of plot direction are some of the worst I’ve got. But since I still haven’t decided why the whole conclusion happens and I’m stifling the way it naturally wants to go, the whole thing is just... stalling.

I shouldn’t have taken a day off. I mean, I should have; I needed to. I really was about to break down if I hadn’t taken my mind completely away from it for a day or two. But I knew what would happen; I knew how ugly the horse would look when I tried to get back onto it. On Monday night and all through yesterday I felt pretty much like huddling up under the doona sobbing and never coming out, ever again.

I had a good night writing last night, though, so today the benefits of having taken a break have really kicked in on my mental state. )

Aaaaah, precious new plot threads, which will challenge me to weave them in and make them important, hopefully giving rise to many more threads in their turn… And I got some lovely coloured index cards the other day, because all my white ones were starting to get mixed up and confused. I’ve been keeping reminder notes of all my underused spaghetti – continuity issues I need to reinforce in green, characters on pink, scene ideas in yellow – each with a tally of how many times I’ve already used them. So hopefully, in my moments of totally idealess despair brought on by actually finishing a scene and skimming through the whole document to find where to write next, I’ll be able to shuffle and deal until I get a connection and find something that I absolutely have to write, and right now.

Now all I really need is an actual antagonist, rather than a couple of people who are either annoying or only selfish and malicious on a very small scale, and one guy who I think is the antagonist, but currently won’t appear as more than a name and one short sentence which isn’t nearly evil enough to make up for his complete absense in the rest of the story. (And, of course, to stop rambling in my LJ and write the remaining 1400 words to hit my quota this evening.)

So as I said: my second wind, may it last long. I can’t believe how much better it feels to be 5K past half way than it did to be actually half way. To the next 20,000 – here I come!
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I have reached the half way point.

Nothing more to say except this: thank you, ladies and gentlemen, and good night!

Kick Me.

Nov. 9th, 2006 10:03 pm
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Yes, that's right. Kick me. Go on, you're allowed. :)

For those of you who aren't signed up to NaNoWriMo mailing list, and who haven't just received an amazingly well-timed email from Chris Baty (the founder of NaNoWriMo), I'll explain what I mean.

I have just passed 20,000 words.

Yes, yes, that is correct.

Twenty thousand words.

Two. Zero. Zero. Zero. Zero. Words.

I passed it. I checked my mail. And then I discovered that apparently this means there is most likely an invisible "kick me" sign on my back, which my less-fortunate novelling companions have placed there.

I'd feel bad about gloating if the last six or so thousand of those words hadn't felt like I was very very slowly pushing my brain through a cheese-grater. Even so, I feel like I've reached base camp, half-way up Everest - the easy bit with the aeroplanes and the cafes and the gentle slopes is done, all that's left is the hard slog through the blizzards and the altitude sickness and the frostbite.

I'd heard for ages that week two's meant to be the hardest. I believe it, because right at this moment, I have only 573 words left in my quota for today, and the thought of writing even one of them literally has me at the verge of tears.

But I've cracked twenty thousand. And I'm proud of myself. So I think I've earned this chance to procrastinate gloat, even if you deserve the opportunity to kick me for it.

Twenty thousand words. Twenty thousand. And if I've done twenty thousand, I can do five hundred and seventy three more, can't I?

Yes, I can. Because I haven't failed to hit my writing quota one single day as yet. Not one day. There's a shiny gold star on every single day so far on my calender to prove it.

And when I've made it through tonight, and tomorrow, and Saturday - that's two and a bit more days of my eyes dry and burning like this and my wrists on fire and my brain slowly dissolving into a gooey morass - and if I manage the extra four hundred and seven words in that time that will break me over half-way, then... I'm having Sunday off.

That's right - I, Lily, the writing machine, will take a day of rest.

So here is advance notice - I'll be out of contact on Sunday. I'm not turning on my computer. I'm not answering the phone. I'm not even intending to get out of bed on Sunday.

Because there's no if, with this, not really. I'm going to make it.

So kick away, my friends! Kick away!

Edit: In case I hadn't mentioned it, I totally rule. 21003 words, final wordcount for tonight. G'night, all.
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Or: A most ingenious paradox!

(For part 1: Physical Plausibilities)

This is the biggest question for my NaNovel, I suppose. Theories to explain the physical world around us can come or go. Technology, magic: it’s all indistinguishable in the end.

But paradox is eternal.

Perhaps I’m being a little melodramatic. All right, I’m being totally melodramatic. Writing this novel so quickly is throwing off my whole sense of subtlety.

The point under consideration is this: how the heck can exchanging information with the future work? You ask a question of the future, get an answer back, and change what you’re going to do, which changes your answer to the question, and… aaaaaarghgh!

But I think I’ve actually worked out a pretty neat solution to the paradox dilemma.

As I was informed a few weeks ago, when I started my inquiries, it’s not so much that what the itty-bitty-bits of the universe do at a quantum level that’s still under debate. It’s what the behaviour of those itty-bitty-bits means. We’ve got well-established and tested mathematical formalism for what particles/waves are doing on the fundamental level … but there just isn’t any one compelling interpretation to tell us what they’re doing when we’re not looking at them, what they’re doing where we can’t see them, or why they’re doing it. Instead, there’s a whole list of them. Hopefully I haven’t completely warped the whole thing too far out of shape. :)

First, let me chat for a minute about my understanding of the way quantum mechanics started, and a few of the recognised interpretations.

I won’t go into the details of the two-slit experiment )

The Copenhagen Interpretation )

The Many Worlds Interpretation  )

The Transactional Interpretation )

At last! The tack my story takes! )

Now, to the larger questions:
Why did I write all this when I could be NaNoing, and I have bigger, plot related problems to worry about, like the most emotionally charged scene I have so far being the one where my protagonist's girlfriend breaks up with him in the middle of brushing her teeth?
Why am I at all worried that I may not reach 50,000, given I can ramble like this?
And why, when I gave him the perfect opportunity for exposition, standing in front of year eight science class touring the premesis, did my protagonist put on a movie to explain it all, and then stop listening so he could eavesdrop on two schoolboys in the back row giggling about breasts? How did this happen? And would it really matter if I broke the rules just once to go back and fix it up? [/rhetorical]


PS: I'm on 14,968 words. Must... write... thirty... two... more... words...
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Purchasing a kitchen timer may well have been the best preparation I made for NaNo this year. I've been going in 20 minute sprints, which has been suiting me really well.

I've tried sprinting before, never before with this level of sucess.

The difference, I'm sure, is my kitchen timer.

It's a shiny metal half-sphere, and it looked okay inside the packet in K-mart, but I couldn't try it out, so I bought it and brought it home - but the first time I actually started it up, I just stared at it in dismay.

It ticked. Loudly. Three times a second, in fact, which kind of increases the urgent feeling even further.

Actually, it feels like sitting next to a small time bomb as I write, and at first I thought it'd be totally distracting - I don't deal with noise while I'm writing well at all.

But this is... fantastic. There's no way I'll forget I'm on the clock while it's on, with its frantic ticking. And I'm getting stuff written! Yay!

7795 words officially for the 3rd, though I didn't get the NaNo site updated quite in time. I'm now on 7825. Yes, I'm pedantic to want to give you both these figures.

Tomorrow... I'm going to crack 10,000! Easy.
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Somebody take my power cord away and hide it, or something.

Because it's all flowing so beautifully and I'm interspersing twenty minute sprints with packing my wrists in ice.

Yes. I have RSI. On day two.

Not! Good!

I have dodgy wrists in the first place, and I should be going to the physio and doing my exercises to try and get it all sorted out, but... hey, who wants to do wrist exercises when they could be surfing the net?

Curse me, and my laziness! Also, if I were one of my wrist braces, where would I be hiding? *searches high and low*

On the bright side, final word count for day 2 is 5,745 words and, after a very slow start, my plot's starting to really move... brilliance!

Edit: It's been pointed out to me that RSI might be the wrong word. It's basically a flare up of my injury, which involves joints way too loose for my very weak wrist muscles to stabalise, and a spur off one bone rubbing against another. Ice and exercises are my recommended physio treatment, so... I'm just considering this exercise. *shiftyeyes*
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It's the most unmitigated, unforgivable crap I've ever written. It's stilted, it's completely unpaced, and it's flying towards the earth at 9.8 meters per second per second, without even bothering to insert actual story along the way, let alone any descriptions of anything. I thought it was just because nothing had happened yet. But now something's happened, and... it's even worse, because something's happening, and it's even worse.

And I've just worked out why.

It wants to be in first person.

I don't want it to be in first person. I hate reading first person, and I've already done a major first-person work, solely because it made it easier to distinguish two POVs. And I hate reading first person. It feels like lazy third person limited to me.

But okay, Mr. Novel, sir. You want to be in first person - you can be in first person.

Damn you.

1095 words and counting.

Edit: and straight up to 1607 in 20 minutes, of course. Seeing it took me over two hours for 1000 words, making 1st person triple the speed for actual possibly not completely totally rubbish stuff... I think I know which I'll be chosing. :D But now my inner editor's totally desperate to fix the first 1000 words. *twitches*

Edit 2: Final word count for today: 2,503. Most respectable. And by 11:30pm, too!
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I decided the best start to NaNo I could possibly get was a good night's sleep.

So... 7:19am, here I am. Staring at a blank page.

Here I go...

Edit: An hour and a bit later, and... 564 words! Yay! As Mozzie so helpfully pointed out, I'm over a hundredth of the way there. It's not so hard! [/optimism]
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I’d like to talk for a while about the plausibility of the sci-fi aspect of my NaNovel.

Feel free to tune out )

Anyone have any ideas, or shall I just make myself some Magical!Futuristic!Ultra!High!Tech!Attenuationless!Glass? Or just gloss over it?

I must admit, glossing’s looking attractive, at the moment. :)

Next up, Part Two: Interpretational Implications (or: A most ingenious paradox!)

Edit: Stop press! Apparently, in certain gasses and at certain temperatures, the speed of light can be slowed down by a significant amount - enough to make it possible to make a photon cross a room at a slow enough pace to make this work. If this is the case - and it doesn't result in a high attenuation along the way - this looks like the go. Yay! Thanks, Geoff!
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All right, well thanks to pokes from a couple of people and one in particular who made the totally unfounded accusation that attending such an event meant having no life, I thought I’d better post about how the NaNo kick-off party went.

Despite a slight hangover from my last entry, I managed to be vivacious and bubbly and totally the life of the party! )

Oh, yes. And I’m definitely “Girl With The Glasses”, not “American Chum’s Wife”, no matter how much Petey may attempt to convince you otherwise. Sorry, Petey, you lost your “r” privileges on that one. ;)

Ah, and lastly, before I forget, the latest issue of The Observatory, the Artemis Fowl Fanzine, is out, this one featuring an article by yours truly and Eterah about NaNoWriMo and its Artemis Fowl Fandom participants, as well as my usual article, Orion's Toolbelt!
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So, I've signed up for NaNoWriMo.

Instead of just sitting on my rear end, thinking "one day I'm going to write an original novel" - I'm going to do it. Next month. And no, that's not like, "I'm going to stop procrastinating. Tomorrow." This is seriously next month. Starting on the first of November, and going through until the 30th of November. And at the end of that month, I will have over 50,000 words on a page.

It'll be my first original novel. And it'll probably be complete and utter carp. But that won't matter, because it'll be written. And fifty thousand words of carp is fifty thousand times better than nothing at all. I'm hoping it might be of a standard that I can edit to something reasonable, possibly even publishable - but that would just be icing on the cake, really. All I'm aiming for is words on the page.

For the moment, though, I'm just preparing. I'm nesting - putting up corkboards and calendars, obtaining index cards and gold stars and a big jar of M&Ms with which to reward myself when I reach targets. I'm cooking a huge oversupply of dinner every night and dividing the rest into takeaway containers to put in the freezer so that I won't have to put up with Hubby's continual whining that he's hungry. I'm doing all the jobs that I've been putting off for months but will suddenly become high priority once there's something I want to procrastinate even more - heck, I'm even half way through filling, sanding, and repainting the dint in our wall from where the removalists dropped our piano.

Yes, I'm frighteningly obsessive. Thank you for noticing.

I'm also trying to get all my research done now, before the month starts, so that I'll have at least a superficial understanding of the complexities of quantum mechanics as they apply to antimatter, antitime, quantum entanglement, the two slit experiment, and how you might use it to send messages from the future. And can someone please explain to me why I've taken it into my head to write Sci-Fi? Please? I just know I'm going to get sucked into hours and hours of unnecessary procrastinative research. (By the way, if anyone has the understanding necessary to explain some of this stuff to me, please let me know, because it's really hard. Geoff, I'm looking at you. Yes, even though I haven't even told you my pen name yet. Don't try to be rational with me.)

Now, with that attended to, I'll return to my bubbling boiling cauldron holding a week's supply of Beef Stroganoff. It's going to be a fun month...


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