This year I will be participating in my eighth National Novel Writing Month, which is something not many people can say. My first year, 2001, was the first year the event started to gain traction; about 1100 people participated, if memory serves. So now I’ve written seven piles of words, and I’m getting a little vague on what they all were. Indulge me, then, as I climb into the way-back machine and try to excavate my NaNoWriMo career. This is mostly for my benefit; I’ve been trying to reconstruct my history for a while now. Hopefully I’ll get it right.
2001: Rio Blanco – a spy vs. spy story set in Central America. When I bogged down I wrote sex. I’ve never read the result, but I think it had a few good moments, and the narrator had a strong voice. It was the voice that convinced me that maybe I could write something good. On December 2th I started my first serious attempt at a novel.
2002: The Test – This was the year of 30 days, 30 bars, 1 Novel. I have some documentary remains of that time, but my plan to keep a running log of my adventures was overwhelmed by the task itself. The novel I’d been working on for eleven months, While God Sleeps, has been languishing ever since. I plan to pick up The Test when I put The Monster Within to bed for the last time. There’s some really good stuff in here (if I do say so myself), and Jane might be my best character ever. She is managing to survive in a very ugly industrial-revolution world. Some scenes are so gut-wrenching I’m surprised I wrote them.
2003: The Monster Within – Holy cow, has it been that long? I hated to set The Test aside, but I recognized that this story was structurally a lot stronger and would be easier to get into a publishable state.
2004: Worst Enemy – A techno-thriller that has some problems with the techno. There’s a lot of chase and a clever idea – the guy on the run can never get ahead because the people he is running from have an AI that is based on the guy’s personality. He is his own worst enemy. To escape he must do something that is completely against his nature – forgive. (Alternate title is Unforgivable.) This one might turn out to be better as a screenplay. As it stands, two good characters stand out in a field of poor storytelling. This story has a lot of my road trip in it. It was an excerpt from this that first attracted That Girl’s attention.
2005: The Stan Man Plan – Previously excerpted in these pages. I reread it a few months ago and chuckled the whole way through. It’s a long, long way from publishable, but it was funny and even had a heart.
2006: Untitled – A very heavy subject and extremely high literary ambitions (along with real-time publication) doomed this project from the start. I might try it again someday, but the constraints of NaNoWriMo, which seemed perfect for the idea on paper, turned out to not work at all. I got the word count, but the result was a total mess.
2007: Math House – intended to be a near-future social satire and adventure story, it quickly bogged down and I turned to the story of one of the secondary characters, which turned out to be a whole lot of fun. Beth’s story had a Tim Robbinis sort of feel to it, and might be worth revisiting some day. One thing about NaNoWriMo, it’s taught me a couple of times the sort of story I should not be writing. It’s a good lesson to only lose a month to learn.
2008: I am almost giddy with anticipation for The Quest for the Important Thing to Defeat the Evil Guy. Since my last post about it, I have added a carp.