Tag Archives: nanowrimo

Writing Fast, and Furious, and 50,000 words

PrintEvery year I tell myself I can’t/shouldn’t rely on the special NaNoWriMo magic to get my deadlines done. Because, you know, what are the odds that I’ll manage to write 50K words in a month every single year?

And yet. Every year that I genuinely make the effort, it comes off well.

If I could do NaNo four times a year, I would. But I’ve tried the alternatives and really, it only works in November. Which is crazy, because November is a terrible time for writing. In Australia it’s the end of the university year, not the middle – I have an annual two week job that overlaps with NaNo. There are so many other things that tend to collide – this year it was the coverage of Jessica Jones for Tor.com. Next year it will be something else. In 2009 I’d just had a baby, it was crazy to even try…

But the secret it, it’s always a bad month for writing. I have kids, I have commitments, I have all manner of things that leap up and demand attention. My email inbox is enough to make anyone cry.

NaNoWriMo works for me, and it works mostly because of a combined magical cocktail of pressure and obligation. The words get written. They get written fast. And (here’s my own personal secret) they get written good.

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people actually concerned about sexism do not go around saying that women should shut their dumb faces about it

Look at me, raising my head up in the internet. Hello, internet! I’m a lot of words this month! I haven’t been doing my usual Friday Links while Nanoing, but there are a couple of things I wanted to make an exception for.

untoldSarah Rees Brennan has written a really important essay on TheToast.net about being a woman in the publishing industry, or any industry that requires self promotion, and how differently the universe reacts to women’s self promotion. It’s sad but a must-read: A Female Author Talks About Sexism and Self-Promotion.

So, women are often left in a situation where if they want to succeed, they have to promote themselves, via being a person on the internet. And then, people say: “Lady, when you promote yourself, it is bad.”
(Sarah Rees Brennan)

Malinda Lo has written a companion piece, also on TheToast.net, about her own experiences in self promotion as a queer woman, and how more mainstream events/promotions for her YA books about lesbians mean having to come out all over again: A Second Female Author Talks About Sexism and Self Promotion.

I don’t believe that creative individuals should have to grow thicker skins. I believe that if you’re out there creating art, you should make sure you’re as open and thin-skinned as possible, so that you can feel every damn thing that arises in you. You need to be able to fully experience those emotions so you can use them in your work, but only within reason. I draw the line at letting mean-spirited criticism into my mental space.
(Malinda Lo)

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Devoured by Book

So the blog has been a bit quiet of late and bound to continue so. Shhh! I’m writing a book!

NaNoWriMo is doing what it’s kinda supposed to do, as far as I’m concerned – it’s kicking me back into habitual writing. I’ve been struggling all year with time shrinkage and my various parental etc (so much et cetera!) responsibilities, and not getting much of anything done. But I gritted my teeth and started this 6am thing (most days). The fact that it started working early on did, of course, spur me on. Funny how success tends to be encouraging!

Slowly, slowly, I’m remembering how to write books. More specifically, how *I* write books. I tap into my barely-veiled addictive personality, I challenge myself, and I turn up to the damn chair. So far, so good.

The first time I did Nano, I blogged nearly every day. Not only those damned wordcount bars, but reflections on what I was writing, and how I write. The second year (which was 2009) I blogged everywhich way, including possible typing with my ears. Words poured everywhere because I was writing WITH a three month old baby, and the more fiction I wrote, the more I wanted to blog as well.

I suspect that won’t be happening this time. I’ve been giving a lot of attention to my blog lately and now having great fun with the enormous secret which is the book I can read and no one else can – the one I’m writing!

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The Best Laid Plans

nano13So, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year which starts THIS FREAKING FRIDAY and I’ve had a completely scattered year with my available writing time shrinking and shrinking into nothing, and my momentum disappearing in a slow plume of smoke.

I had a brilliant plan to start getting up at 6am, to get a clear hour and a half of writing in before my ‘to do list’ brain kicked in and more importantly, the children woke up. I used to do a lot of writing at night but I’m just too tired these days.

It worked for two days. I finally got some serious fiction writing done without interruption! It was a bit of a struggle, and I wasn’t sleeping as deeply if I went to bed earlier, but I was sure it would all work out.

Then today when I got up I noticed that hmmm, it’s a lot lighter at 6am than it was two days ago. I guess that’s what you get as summer approaches…

And 4 year old Jem woke up at 6:14. Gah! Fail.

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Things To Be Excited About (Writing and Parenting Edition)

I missed out on the fun & professional inspiration of Genrecon this weekend, which would normally have been pretty depressing, but I got to hang out with my snuggly family and watch a bunch of black and white Doctor Who which was quite a major consolation.

In any case, without a convention to kickstart the last quarter of the year into gear, I have to find my own inspiration!

Firstly, I’m super excited by the first Twelfth Planet Press crowdfunded book, with Julia Rios joining Alisa as editor. This is Kaleidoscope, a book devoted to contemporary fantasy for YA readers which reflects the diversity of the world we live in. I’m writing a story to submit to that (as well as a bunch of other books) right now, with four deadlines between now and December. Eek!

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Nano No (sigh)

I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year, which feels very strange indeed. I’ve delved into the passionate obsessive NaNo mindset with such glee in previous years, even when deadlines and other commitments have made it tricky for me.

There will be writing, have no fear of that. But as I discovered back when I was working on this particular novel-in-progress for the Clarion Write-a-thon, this particular project (yes, still the steampunk YA) is not one that benefits from being written fast. I could do something completely new for NaNo, of course, but that would mean giving up on the hope that I could finish my novel this year.

There are a bunch of other excuses of course, such as GENRECON! and one of my twice yearly “fortnights of gainful employment” at the university, but those things wouldn’t actually matter if I was in a writing-my-fingers-off frame of mind. And I’m not. This has been a year of stopping and starting, of career decisions, and of taking every weird and wonderful opportunity tossed my way, regardless of what my plans were before. Some of this will come to naught, and some may change my life. Eventually.

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Winning at November

So I finished Nanowrimo and ‘won’ in that I completed 50,000 words of novel this month (though I think it doesn’t technically count as a win because I wrote them on two different novels, too bad, I’m counting it). I didn’t do much ELSE this month, of course, but I also was glad to feel that I didn’t completely neglect my house, children, reading obligations, etc. It’s almost like I’m getting the hang of this novel thing. Only the first week was teeth-grindingly hard.

Which of course has made me raise the bar of expectations as to how many words I can put on the plate when I am officially writing a novel – the old 1000 words 5 times a week is starting to look somewhat shabby. Still… no use thinking about that now, I have months and months before I can be actively writing new words every day again. Though the collaborative novel I am writing with the magnificent Kate will continue on and off over the next month or two I guess… at least I get whole days when I am not actively supposed to be working on it!

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Friday Links is Not a Troll

We discussed this excellent post by Tobias Buckell: Self Publishing Doesn’t Mean you have to be a Raging Fuck Wad on the recent episode of Galactic Suburbia. I also wanted to link to this great post about political correctness, which responds to some of the same people and issues.

The thing I forgot to add to our running sheet for Galactic Suburbia was the surprise sale of Angus and Robertson in Australia – bookshops, coming back!

The important discussion of how trolling online (which can be far more vicious, threatening and fearmaking than many people believe) affects female bloggers has not only gone viral, it’s gone mainstream, with open discussion on the topic happening in newspaper columns as well as independently. About damn time.

The Nanowrimo thing continues apace, and some of my favourite recent supportive posts on the topic have been by Jim C Hines (see how defly he ducks and weaves to avoid being one of those professional writers who starts out trying to explain politely why Nano isn’t for them and ends up sounding all judgy and patronising about it) and Auntie MJ who is joyful and bouncy as ever.

This take on the recent Steampunky Goodness Three Musketeers movie by Karen Healey is my favourite movie review since Sarah Rees Brennan wrote about Troy. It spoils everything to bits but is so worth it.

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What’s in a Name?

16316 / 50000 words. 33% done!

So I think I can blog about my current WIP again because I’ve started liking it, which after a week of near-torture is something of a relief!

My main problem at the moment is that I am writing a story set in the Verona of Romeo & Juliet (well, not entirely THAT Verona what with the tropical islands and the necromancy) and the only way to add magic and logic and possibly the occasional steam-powered robot (oops) to Shakespeare is to make sure that the canon itself works hard in the story. And there are only three canon facts about my heroine Rosaline, apart from the whole thing about Romeo being in love with her before Juliet: 1) her complexion was pale 2) she was determinedly chaste and 3) her sister’s name is Livia.

All of these things have given me a massive headache, at one time or another. But if I chuck them out, why bother calling my heroine Rosaline at all? So I’ve had to address them in my story, and in the building of the character. The only problem is that now her sister wants to be a point of view character and she’s a stitch away from becoming joint protagonist, and I can’t, I simply can’t have a protagonist called Livia. Quite apart from the fact that I’ve written three different fictional Livillas in the last two years (OK two of them were historical figures but still) I still live in hope that some day I will write the Great Livia Drusilla novel of all time, and how can I possibly do that if I already have another fictional Livia inside my head?

So I have to screw with canon. Which bugs the hell out of me. Because, you know. I want to be true to the play. Apart from all the liberties I already planned to take.

So she’s going to have to be Olivia, or Livian, or Liliane. Or something.

Damn you, canon!

Day Two: This Nanowrimo thing.

3750 / 50000 words. 8% done!

I was just looking back over old posts, and wow I did a LOT of blogging last time I did Nanowrimo, in the grand old days of 2009. Not sure I’ll be keeping that up this year. I’m already juggling two different books!

Writing something new is scaryfun, though.

Some Nano links:

Scott Westerfeld linked to a series of posts he and Justince Larbalestier did a few years back, one for each day of Nanowrimo. Some wonderful, clever tips there, with such enticing titles as “Emergency Unstucking Techniques,” “Stealing from Chandler” and “Square Brackets”.

Ah, square brackets, what would we do without you?

Natalie Zutter at Tor.com looks at some of the Nano books that have actually got published – I commented there, but it got eaten. I had to stop and check what my previous Nano novels were, to see if I’d had any published – and I haven’t yet, I will in February! Yes, the first 50,000 words of Reign of Beasts was written in the 2010 Nano! I had completely forgotten that.

Meanwhile, Maureen Johnson is embracing the title of Nanowrimo Agony Aunt. Her blog is always fun to read but gets particularly manic at this time of year. If you have any questions about Nanowrimo, or life and the universe in general, I recommend you head over there and see what Aunty MJ has to say.