Slow going on JerNoWriMo

This style of writing sure requires a lot of thinking. The chapters are short, and after each one I have to go back over parts of the story to see which part of the narrative should come next. To a certain extent I can and do write bits and then shuffle them around (insert plug for Jer’s Novel Writer here), but I feel that while the story is extremely nonlinear in time there is still a structure to it, connecting the bits thematically, and revealing the right bits at the right time. And that takes thinking, no two ways about it.

In that way JerNoWriMo is quite different than NaNoWriMo. I am not giving myself license to suck, which is what November is all about. I’m looking forward to November. JerNoWriMo is not even about word count, really, although I am keeping track of that. It’s about finishing this dang story in a month, in a form I can call a real draft. I still have some tough questions to answer, as well, and as I answer them I invalidate some of the things I’ve already written.

The good news is that by containing my rambling style in small units, this will be by far the smallest large thing I’ve written. I estimated 70K, but now I don’t think it will be even that much. We’ll see. I’ve been working on it 7 days now, and at the rate I’m going I will only have about 50K at the end of 30 days. That might be enough, and there will be some parts that are easier to write. I hope.

As soon as I figure out how to get George and the Feds on the same side in a shootout I’m home free, baby — until I have to explain what Dragon Lady’s angle is in the next chapter. Sure, sure, it’s wealth, but how much does she know, really? Ai-ai-ai. My head’s exploding.

11 thoughts on “Slow going on JerNoWriMo

  1. Dumb question from a non-author: why write it non-linearly? Why not write it linearly first, then jumble it, and at the time of jumbling add in the bits that make the jumbling work?

  2. It was interesting for me to go back to my NaNo project, which I have totally left alone for a few months, and to realize that a whole lot of it is different from what I remember. For instance, because of NaNo’s emphasis on quantity over quality, I worked hard to put in oodles of sensory details and descriptions of scenery and stuff like that. Before I went back to reread the work, I expected to find lots of long-winded, boring descriptive material. I was really surprised upon rereading not to find so much of that. There are a couple of passages that are going to need cropping, but in general, all that descriptive stuff works. I will also have to adjust the constellations in the night sky to match the time of year in one passage.

    My biggest problem now is a lack of background information so I can continue putting in those details — I can get some stuff about T’bilisi on the Net, but Yodz (as thoroughly in the middle of nowhere as one can get, in central Iran) is a total blank, aside from what I can determine from a National Geographic map about terrain and climate.

    pL, if you’re tuned in, do you happen to have an address for Johnny Darnell, or better yet, his mom, Ruth, who could maybe give me more information about rural Iran?

  3. Have no idea where Johnny is these days, last I heard we was in Las Vegas on his Mormon Mission – that was some time ago.

  4. Ruth may still live in Los Alamos — I can have Mom check the phone book.

    Johnny’s mission was in Las Vegas???!!! That must have been interesting!

  5. I am doing some linear-then-rearrange stuff, but the thinking still applies. As I write bits I have to think about how they fit with all the other bits – even if I haven’t written the other bits yet.

    I don’t know squat about Iran. I should run for president.

  6. When I write something that’s not linear, I generally have a linear timeline either in my head or on a piece of scratch paper, so I know where I’m going, but writing something linear and then scrambling doesn’t work, because there are too many pieces that are disconnected in the process of scrambling, and I get characters who know something that they shouldn’t, or don’t know something they should, or who act in ways that aren’t right for them at that particular moment.

    However, there is often a whole lot of going back and fixing stuff, whether one is writing linearly or not. My authority on this subject is Tony Hillerman, who starts his novels with Chapter 1, then writes the rest of the novel, then goes back and throws out Chapter 1 and writes a whole new Chapter 1 that actually matches what happens in the book.

    No, I can’t actually say that I know Tony Hillerman, although I’ve met him a few times. The first time was at a writers’ conference in Las Cruces, and I didn’t even know who he was; I was waiting in the audience for him to speak, and he came and sat down next to me with a manuscript he was working with. I was impressed with how messy that manuscript was. Then the MC came to the podium and called him up, and that was when I realized who he was.

    One of the other times I met him was when I was the news editor of the Daily Lobo, the UNM student newspaper, and we’d just had a turbulent week; we’d exposed a scandal about the basketball team that the mainstream media hadn’t seen fit to publish. We were getting all sorts of flak from the university administration and the sports fans and the NAACP (the players involved were all black), and we really felt like we were under siege. Tony Hillerman, an emeritus (that means retired, but the department likes to keep his name on the letterhead for prestige) professor of journalism, came to the newsroom and gave us a much-needed pat on the back — or in my case a bear hug; given his size, Hillerman’s good at bear hugs — and told us that what we were doing was the best of journalism. He repeated that phrase several times, “the best of journalism.”

    Gee, maybe Schwingendorf and Byrnes were supposed to be the next Woodward and Bernstein. But we can’t identify our Deep Throat yet. He’s much too alive and well.

  7. rambled musings:

    I met a person at work who’s last name is Woodring. Is that not the coolest name? Something Tolkien would have named a wood elf. You writers should make use of it. I’m not a writer, but I play one on TV.

    Cellcircuit; the circular amblings of a student out on the main quad, who has left the building to find better cell phone reception, and is now engaged in a phone conversation while walking around in the hot-signal zone. I made that up. I get a balloon.

    CA- I think you’re gonna have to expand on the scandal story you just teased us about. Especially why you think the Admin gave you a hard time.

  8. Ahh, Logan-gate, the sequel to Lobo-gate. Way back when, the Lobos had an astonishingly talented point guard named Steve Logan. Alas, while he was talented on the basketball court, he was either not talented or not motivated (my suspicion is the latter) academically. Two weeks before the end of the fall term, one of his professors dropped him from two classes he was supposedly taking, because, according to the professor, Logan never showed up for class.

    In order to meet NCAA requirements to play, Logan had to be enrolled in at least 12 credit-hours. Being dropped from two classes left him with only 6 credit-hours in his schedule. However, somehow, before the next basketball game, Logan got enrolled in two new courses, under the condition that he would complete them in the two weeks remaining in the term.

    Logan’s ability to enroll in two classes so late in the semester raised an outcry — the UNM course catalog and other documents declared that it was impossible to add classes after the fourth week of the term. But the powers-that-be said that in hardship cases that rule could be waived, so long as the student completed coursework by the end of the term. Apparently Logan’s failure to show up for class counted as a special hardship case, as he was a star player on a team whose winning season was bringing big money into the university coffers.

    All of this was reported in the mainstream media in Albuquerque, although a lot of the details showed up only in the Daily Lobo. What happened next was not reported until we did it.

    At the beginning of the spring term, some unknown entity sent the Daily Lobo (and also all of the other newspaprs and television and radio news organizations in Albuquerque) a photocopy of the basketball team’s grade reports. Logan had received an Incomplete in the two courses he’d been signed up for two weeks before the fall term ended (which he’d promised to complete), and he’d gotten an F in the other two classes So he had a 0.0 grade-point average. NCAA regulations at the time declared a player’s eligibility based on the GPA as of the previous spring, so for seniors the fall GPA didn’t count for anything for eligibility purposes. Not only that, all of the Lobos’ starting lineup failed most of their classes, especially the seniors. The team GPA had been kept up to NCAA standards by having some bench-warmers with very high GPAs. The GPA of the guys who actually played averaged out to something like 0.9, or about an F-plus.

    Under most circumstances, it isn’t legal for students’ academic records to be made public. But my sports editor, Wende Schwingendorf, had been a cheerleader and mascot for the team, and she had to sign the same papers the athletes did. Those papers authorize the university to publish and publicize the athletes’ records, including their grades. So we did.

    We got a whole lot of different reactions. Some heavy-duty basketball fans questioned our loyalty to the university. The NAACP accused us of persecuting black people, since all of the athletes who were playing basketball without keeping their grades up were black. (My response to that accusation was that these players weren’t being paid money, but that in exchange for their work, they were supposed to get compensation in the form of education, and since the university was doing absolutely nothing to make sure these athletes were getting that education, these black guys were working without getting paid, which equates to slavery.)

    I can report that the aftermath of the story was good. The powers-that-be are now keeping a much closer eye on student-athletes. The athletic department hired an assistant athletic director whose sole job is to keep the athletes (from all sports, not just men’s basketball) academically on track. If an athlete starts to slip academically, one phone call from the instructor to that assistant AD will usually get the student back in line. UNM’s student athletes are now actually and truly students.

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