NaNoWriMo Kerplop!

Normally December for me is a time of hectic productivity for me. Each NaNoWriMo leaves me with tremendous momentum and a story in the vault that likely would never have been written otherwise. I am reminded to write without fear, to get the ideas down and worry about the niceties later. I’ve been away from my main projects for a month and there are things I been looking forward to fixing in them, or new ideas on how to give a particular bit of dialog some extra wallop.

Not this year. I’ll make the word count goal again for the fifth straight year, but given my current lifestyle, that’s no big deal at all. I expect there are very few months in which I don’t write 50,000 words.

There are several reasons for this, I suppose. for one thing, this will be the last time I write anything I dare call a novel without planning it carefully first. I can see the germ of a really fun story in what I did this November, with some true Douglas Adams-style blink-blink moments of complete cultural disorientation that power forward what really is a funny story. Or at least it would be funny if there weren’t vast sections of it that just don’t fit together, and lots and lots of filler, and a few spots that just plain suck.

Another, bigger, reason is that with one novel complete, and another approaching completion (um… sort of…), I am forced to recognize that in the long run adding another unpublished work in the hopper isn’t moving me forward professionally. So as a significant annual milestone I have to look back on the year and take stock of my progress. I finished a novel. The whole damn thing. On the way I deleted and rewrote hundreds of pages, honing the language while (hopefully) not eradicating the soul. So that’s a good thing.

It is far less than I had set for myself to accomplish in the last year, however. According to the timetable I set out at the end of last November, I am supposed to be finished with The Test, and well under way with my American Road Novel, tentatively titled The Fish. The Test has some brilliant moments (if I do say so myself), but lacks structure. It’s taken longer than I expected to get it under control, but that’s all right. It’s big, and one of my challenges right now is to split it into two satisfying stories. (I will not put out of these so-called “series” which is really just a single, rambling story. I hate getting to the end of a book only to discover that when I shelled out my money for a story, I only got a fraction of a tale. Or, worse, buying a book and finding myself in the middle of a story with no clue what’s going on and who the hell all these people are. But I digress.) So, okay, writing a novel (at least one that doesn’t suck) takes a long time.

The business part of my chosen profession is a bigger problem, however. It is languishing. I have identified likely agents, identified their requirements and prioritized which ones to approach first. The shotgun method is not appreciated, so this will be a time-consumong process. Well, it would be time-consuming if I was spending any time on it. At the rate I’m going now, the ETA (estimated time of agentedness) is, um… (… carry the four, take the hypotenuse…) infinity.

So this December, rather than pick up my real writing projects, I think I’m going to take that energy and channel it where it needs to go. It is a measure of how much I like my “job” that I can use allowing myself to work as a reward when I make progress in other areas.

14 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Kerplop!

  1. Oddly, I find myself satisfied with my NaNo novel this year. It’s a tidy little police procedural, definitely far from great literature, but it all works nicely. There are a couple of holes, but I have a student who works in the APD crime lab who can help me fill in those holes once the term is over and we no longer have the conflict of interest of her being my student.

    Meanwhile, there are the Wizards, and their story is definitely not going well. Fortunately for anyone who is following the story (although I often get the feeling that nobody is), that stalling point is about ten chapters down the road from the current episode.

  2. as always, your audience of reviewers/editors stand ready.

    as for agents – Agent 99 is a hotty. Well, maybe was a hotty, if Max is RIP, then she is probably getting up there.

    maybe we should hook you up with renee zellweger’s agent.

    [now where did that rolodex wander off too??]

  3. John,
    Your MOH term is 4/5 complete without any headway on your own self-determined goal: a new poll. Suggest you turn up the heat on Jerry to implement your agenda lest your term expire without measurable effect.

  4. Suggested new poll subject:

    Why does Keith really post to MR&HBI?

    a.) Convenient format for self congratulation,
    b.) In the blogosphere, no one can hear the groans that follow his puns,
    c.) Just likes seeing his name in print,
    d.) Other ??

  5. To what extent does e-publishing (usually unpaid) count as progress in becoming a professional writer?

    How big does the circulation of an electronic “freebie” have to be before it approaches the status of a serial (electronic or papyrus) with paid circulation or a book deal?

    Or is unpaid publication (not counting specialized things like scholarly journals) more or less lumped in the basement with vanity presses and fanzines?

    Is traditional print and traditional real money still pretty much where it’s at for a professional writer?

  6. d) likes being smartest one in his peer group.
    e) wants to enlist other’s help in looking up girls from his own checkered past.
    f) still trying to figure out how to make Google recognize the links to his homepage in the comments to propel his site higher in Google listing.
    g) trolling for a new gig now that his days of being a Randy Duke Cunningham apparatchnik are over.

  7. Jer,

    There are two parts to this job: the hard part (writing) and the really hard part (getting someone to pay you for the writing). Time to do the really hard part.

    As far as 50,000 words go? Geez, I face writers cramp even when I go to write a comment on a little read blog. If I could write that much every month my name would be all over the web and everyone would know that I’m a pinko.

    This part really belongs on another thread, but Bozeman has a festival similar in spirit to the Duke City thing: the Hatch Festival. You and pL might want to look into it. BTW, is there a net accessible version of “Pirates”? I’d like to see it.

    And finally, could you change your site to recognize “MSIE 7.0b” in the User-Agent string. Supposedly MS has fixed the next version of IE (of which I currently run an early beta) to handle .png files better (same for CSS) and it would be nice to see if it really works, or if I should complain to them.

  8. Jer, I noticed earlier today (which is now yesterday) that you had officially clocked the 50K. I know you’re feeling jaded, but at least let me offer one word.


  9. To the best of my knowledge, there is no place on my site that pays the slightest attention to the user-agent string. You get a png, and either it works or it doesn’t. I’m not going to extra trouble just to support browsers that suck.

    There is not yet a Web-accessible version of Pirates – or even a final DVD version. fuego and Charles the Second are hard at work on a non-sucking version now, and hopefully they’re getting close.

    I will definitely look into the hatch Festival. (Not to be confused with the green chile festival in Hatch.)

  10. Pat – the prestige of unpaid Web publishing depends largely on where it was published. Important measures of the publication are the viewership and the editorial standards.

    Piker Press is a pretty minor publication, but the circulation is steadily growing and the quality of the stuff they publish is steadily improving.

    If there is no editor at all – say, on a place like or in a blog – then all publishing on the Web does is ruin your bargaining position if you have any intention of pursuing traditional publishing deals later you will have a much easier time if the work has not already been made available to the entire world.

    While Web publishing is gaining traction in some areas, notably periodicals and short fiction along with obvious reference-type nonfiction, people still want to read novels on dead trees.

  11. John,

    Please to be referred to Mr Adam’s poem. What for you guinea-pigging GatesWare? Do you also test pharmaceuticals at your local college?

  12. Oh, man, that is funny. And wouldn’t you know it? I actually know someone who wrote an erotic novel about a wizard school for young adults…

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