“Things went awry almost immediately. With nothing to do all day but write, I found myself doing everything but writing. Essential errands were run. Laundry was done. The bathroom was cleaned. Less essential errands were run. The bathroom was re-cleaned. A complex rooftop Habitrail system designed to make tree-to-tree transitioning easier for the neighborhood squirrels was built and nearly installed before the county’s animal services intervened. And so on.The mounting guild I felt each evening over accomplishing so little writing during the day would then force me to cancel the plans I had made with friends that night. So I could stay in and get some writing done.Night, of course, simply involved more work on the Habitrail.”
Breaking news! By breaking, I of course mean, “I read about this last week and am just getting around to telling other people about it!”
Daily Science Fiction has moved their maximum accepted word count from 10k down to a lean 1.5k. The announcement came and went as a header for a story with little fanfare, an e-mail I deleted because I am an idiot and reflexively delete stories once I am done reading them. There was no notice on their Face Book page, nor any mention of it on the main DSF website that I could find other than an edited submissions page that reflects the new word count limit. I do not think this is a negative move, as the owners and editors of DSF may do as they very damn well please with their submission guidelines and, as I recall from my deleted e-mail, are moving towards shorter stories in response to their audience’s desire for a more true “quick-fix fiction” story in their inbox each day. This shorter word count will also strip away the longer stories typically published on Fridays.
DSF is a voracious market that demands literally hundreds of stories a year to keep pace with its publishing schedule and I can not blame them for moving to smaller stories for shorted processing times in regards to slush pile navigation and the necessary editing process that touches stories of all lengths. It also helps cut back on the cost of paying authors, which even as an author who has and will continue to submit to DSF, I don’t see this as a bad thing. DSF will keep their 8 cents a word payment and I respect that a lot. If this was a cost-saving maneuver on their behalf then I would prefer that they take shorter stories and maintain their status as a Qualifying Short Fiction Venue for SFWA.
Daily Science Fiction is an awesome market, and I highly encourage anyone with a shorty-short story to throw their hat into the slush pile. No, wait, throw your story into the slush pile. You would probably ruin a hat doing that.
Week three! There has been… little improvement to be honest. The word count has slowed to a slogging crawl. I’m happy that my local NaNoWriMo group will be meeting for a write-up tonight, as that will help push me over the 10k mark, but 50k is looking to be unobtainable this year.
But I have excuses! Good ones, even! I realize that excuses are the domain of those who hope to weasel out of work but hey, I gots ’em and you’re going to read ’em.
EXCUSE #1: I am helping to coordinate an illustrator signing at my local friendly comic book store. While it is a smallish event, it takes a lot of effort and time to organize and arrange a very small store into an acceptable event venue. This event includes not only the illustrator signing but children’s crafts, people in mascot costumes, baking tons of cookies for treats, and a Toys for Tots donations drive.
Did I mention this store is about the size of a one bedroom apartment? We’ve had signings before that turned out really well, and I want to make sure this is another success.
EXCUSE #2: Because I am using this NaNoWriMo to produce a first draft, I am breaking one of the main rules of NaNoWriMo in the fact that I’m doing research. There is a lot of me staring at the screen going, “Hm…why would a town be built this way? What would it take to run it? What Wikipedia articles should I bookmark?” and that does not lead to a rip-roaring pace for my word count. That being said, what I’ve done has been super useful thus far so hey, that is a good thing.
EXCUSE #3: I’ve become an adult with other stuff to do in my life? That isn’t really an excuse, it is, because lots of people with full time jobs and commutes and kids can crank out 50k. But… I don’t like essentially abandoning my husband for month. It stressed me out last year to spend my time doing other things while the 1,667 daily words hung over my head.
I will push myself to write more, and by the end of the month I hope to have a fully detailed outline. A full first draft would be nice, but if I can get the world and magic system settled then I’ll consider it a good first push.
… excuse #4 I’m cheating on this story by working on a short story as well. There’s a themed submission during January that I want to enter and I’ll need enough time to edit and whatnot, so that adds to my workload.
IN OTHER NEWS, I didn’t place in Writers of the Future again. At this point I just kind of shrug at the rejection e-mails from them. No biggie. I’ll keep trying, you’ll keep trying, we’ll all keep trying.
I just received a cheerful little letter from the NaNoWriMo folks about the harsh reality that is the second week of trying to crank out 50k words in a month. They’re so sweet, full of understanding and encouragement and they have famous authors write letters to you to help you keep going.
How am I doing? In summary: not so good.
If I go strictly by the metrics of “reaching 50k by maintaining a writing schedule of 1,667 words a day” then I am way-failing. I have about 6k words in the bank when I should be somewhere around… much higher than that. At least ten thousand words higher than that. Getting that little “WINNER!” tag on my NaNo account for 2013 is quickly slipping out of my hands.
But if I go by another metric (which I realize is a total cop-out, yeah I know), then maybe I’m not doing so badly? My intention with this year’s NaNoWriMo is to crack out a first draft of a novel. While word count is a vital part of that as it indicates that I’m actually writing a story, I’m taking a slightly different tack. This year I’m incorporating the Snowflake Method into my NaNo. If you’re unfamiliar with the Snowflake Method, I highly suggest reading up on it. It’s a simple, yet in-depth way of outlining a story.
I tend to be an exploratory author, by which I mean I just sort of make things up as I go rather than adhering to an existing outline. That’s a fine method for short stories, where I can stand at the beginning of my plot and find the end within sight, but it don’t float to well with novel-length stories. There’s world building to be done, subplots to keep track of, character motivations to keep intact, and all the fun stuff that quickly becomes overwhelming if you try and keep it in your head. I make daily errand lists to keep track of what chores I need to do, so why not adapt my love of list-making to my writing? An outline is a little bit like a to-do list for a plot, right? Sure.
So far the outline is helping. Writing down one-sentence summaries of characters seems dippy, but it forces me to describe minor characters further than I normally would. If I spend a month in a writing experiment that leads me to a solid first draft then that’s good enough for me. I’ll be hung if you don’t find me scrabbling to churn out 20k words on the 29th-30th, but for now I’m content.
(And I’m putting this entry towards my word count. WHAT? It counts as a warm up exercise!)
Just when I think I’m out they drag me back in…
So! NaNoWriMo 2013 is nigh, and I’m once again participating. I told everyone last year that I just wanted to win it once and then I would be done with it, almost like a lower-tier bucket list achievement. Turns out I am a liar-liar, pants obstinately on fire kind of person because I’m going for it again.
BUT THIS TIME, WITH A PLAN!
Last year was a good push for the first draft of my first novel. I have just recently completed said first draft (it’s awful) and from what I’ve gathered, it’s good to step away from a manuscript to gain a fresh perspective before diving in for heavy editing and further mucking about. As it turns out, NaNoWriMo would provide exactly one month’s break from the draft, during which I can wring my brain out over the first draft for a new story. I’ve been hashing out a detailed outline to guide me beyond the realm of “Oh hey that’s a cool idea, now what do I do for the other 80,000 words of the story” phase.
Ambitions! Bullet lists of plot points! An excuse to go to a Starbucks and look pretentious! Ah, NaNoWriMo, how could I ever leave you?
Feel free to track my progress via the neat little thingy I put on the side of my site. Feel doubly free to harass me if I fall behind on the daily word count. If you’re participating, let’s be friends on the main site! Woo!