Posts Tagged NaNoWriMo
So today I’ve finally passed my own prediction for NaNoWriMo and hit 5.000 words. That’s just a bit short of the 18.333 words I’d need by now to stay on target, but since my default word count for this month would have been 0, I still hold this up as some sort of triumph. My new goal is to reach 15.000 words by the end of the month, which would mean keeping my pace through a first of tests and exams, whereas the only things holding me back so far have been my own side projects. Like learning how to build bbcode tables. So far it has been a very insightful experience. Let me tell you, nothing takes you to the pathetic boundaries of your mastery over another language like trying to write a novel. Practice makes perfect I suppose.
Anyway, I promised earlier that I’d share my exploits here no matter how crappy, but I’ve hesitated after learning just how very crappy they were. To my shame I must admit that I spent some time editing the following passage rather than sticking on more words at the end, but it’s still mostly delicious wordsauce straight from the tangled mess of spaghetti I call gray matter. It certainly has its flaws, more than a few, but I would like to point out that my preamble about the outright shittyness of it all was no attempt to stop you from pointing out the low quality, just a reminder that I’m already aware of many of its shortcomings. For the benefit of learning from the experience, I’d still appreciate you ripping it clean in two. Just don’t expect me to thank you for it, not right now anyway. Here goes.
7 days ago, he had gotten a second meal. At the time, he had thought the food meant the arrival of a new day, as it had the 28 days before, thought his mind was starting to fail him and he had spent the next hours sitting on his straw mat, staring at the walls of his cell, desperately trying to perceive the passage of time. When the turnkey returned his eyes were red, but he knew that it was too soon. From that point on he knew what was going to happen, and the additional comfort gave him little solace. His meals grew better and better, he was bathed, shaved, given new clothes. After three days of luxury an officer of the guard had paid him a visit, telling him what he already knew. He was going to be executed in Fanrek plaza 3 days hence. It had been obvious, it had been obvious from the day they put him into this cell. Of course, he had hoped, but hope had turned into anxiety and anxiety into fear and fear into grim determination. He was prepared.
Now his day had come, his death was walking down the corridor to meet him, and at long last Garek was surprised. “Taurn, is that you?” The man inclined his bearded head ever so slightly “Indeed it is, Sir. The King assumed you would be more comfortable around a familiar face. Are you ready?” “Yes. Let’s be done with it” Taurn unlocked his cell, but stepped into his way when walked through. “Give me your hands” “Is that really necessary? I’m not going anywhere” Taurn had produced a piece of rope, and started tying his wrists together. “I’m afraid it is. His Grace insists. After you, Sir” They walked to the dungeon hall, where 8 guards fell in beside them. “I haven’t been out in a while, might I ask if there’s any word from the north?” “I’ve heard tales of snow and ice. Other than that, nothing new. The northmen still haven’t returned in force yet, so we still hold the passes” “Who holds them?” “I’m not entirely sure. There have been a few changes among the higher ranks” “Changes concerning you?” “I’ve been removed from command. Some doubt my loyalty, considering the nature of my… allegiances” “Should they?” “You are going to be executed for treason Garek, could you tame your loyal fervor for a second?” “I dedicated my life and death to The King, Taurn” “You don’t mean to tell me you’re looking forward to this” “What I mean to tell you is that if my King sees fit to kill me for a traitor, I will answer dutifully” Garek let his eyes wander over the armed men around him “Perhaps you shouldn’t be talking this openly. I am a traitor, after all, and I don’t want you to share my fate” “I wouldn’t worry about that” “You haven’t forgotten what I told you, right? Do not interfere”
Their path had led them through the winding corridors of the palace dungeon, and finally up and up to the rich halls above. Taurn led them to the main hall, but toward the side exit. “Can’t have you walk out through the King’s door now can we?”. Outside the sun was just about to rise over the rooftops of Fanrek plaza. Morning. Shielding his eyes against the sunlight, Garek let his eyes sweep over the cobbled square below the steps of the palace, where half of Thawglade seemed to have gathered around the wooden platform next to the fountain. Noblemen were seated around the palace steps, surrounded by their packs of guards, but the square itself was brimming with commoners, held back by the city watch. He saw farmers, craftsmen, potters, blacksmiths and, around the back, street vendors and whores peddling their respective goods. “I didn’t realize people are that eager to see me dead” “They’re eager to see you. Fangar means to make an example of your death, to scare off other dissidents” “I had assumed my co-conspirators had suffered a similar fate” The notion seemed to amuse Taurn “Yeah, except that would leave the palace awfully empty” “And what did you mean he means to set an example” “You’ll see” “Taurn, please, do not interfere. Do me a favor and follow that one last order” The crowd around them stirred as they came nearer, a hundred voices were shouting a hundred things. Garek looked over his shoulder to see The King and his council seated on the balcony of the palace. Taurn led them down and around the platform, to the staircase, where an officer of the royal guard stood waiting. “That’ll be far enough. We’ll take him from here” “Stand back soldier. I have very specific orders by councilor Sebar to deliver him..” “To the platform, aye, but not further. I act on orders placed by the King himself” Taurns eyes went back and forth between the man and the guards at his side, his face blushing with anger before he regained composure “Very well then” Garek was rather glad about this change. He had the niggling feeling that Taurn was going to do something stupid.
His new keeper took him up the wooden stairs to the platform itself, bare and level safe for a few guards, and the block facing the crowd. The block on which his life was to end. His grim reaper, a hooded figure, was already waiting. The headsman walked up to them, silently presenting his axe. Awkwardly raising his tied hands, Garek ran a finger down the blade. “You keep a fine axe” he noted, before absolving the man “There is no shame in killing a traitor. I forgive you” His guards had informed him of this tradition, but apparently protocol offered no stock phrase. Hopefully his words had the desired effect. The headman nodded and went back to the chopping block and, turning around, Garek noted that his watchdog had taken to pacing back and forth between the guards posted at the corners of the construction. Unsure of what to do with this brief moment of respite, he turned to face the crowd, the thousand faces staring at him from the streets and windows of the Silver Hill, the people he had defended all his life. What was it they were shouting, what was it they saw in him? Garek straightened. They were safe, it was all that mattered. Someone else would raise up to defend Thrand, and the line would go on. His watch ended here, he had done his duty and yet… he would always be remembered a traitor. People rustled and started pointing. Garek turned around to see that one of the King Fangar’s councilors had risen from his seat and walked up to balustrade. It was about to begin.
“Garek, son of Thrand” He began, his voice projected on by the snowseer at his side “By the authority of Fangar, son of Fandred, third of his name and King of Thrand you have been brought here to answer for your grievous crimes in front of crown and people. You have been found guilty of plotting to dethrone your rightful King. Do you deny your crimes?” Garek inclined his head “No, m’lord” And why would he? Disputing claims of treason presented by his own King was treason in itself. “You are a traitor, and the law passed on to us by our most wise ruler dictates that there is only one sentence for this crime” “Aye” Garek said, but lacking a snowseer of his own the words would only reach his personal royal guard, who had stepped behind him. “In the name of your King, I sentence you to die” The stuffy man half-turned to face Fangar, who gestured approval. “Executioner, take his head” The royal guard had walked over to him, dagger in hand “Don’t try anything foolish now” “You have my word” Working the blade back and forth, he cut the ropes binding Garek’s wrist “Any last words?” “No” Garek shook his arms and moved his fingers, before realizing the idiocy of the gesture. “Do me favor and strike clean” he sighed, getting on his knees in front of the wooden block “I’d sooner end this in a single clean cut” This was probably something he shouldn’t say, but now felt like the time to violate protocol. Garek closed his eyes. Wood croaked and leather creaked as the headsman next to him changed his footing and gripped his axe tightly. Voices, mumbling. Faint hammering from the Street of Nails. Then there was only his own breath. Wind in his hair. The rythm of his heart, beating. Angry voices, the sound of steel rushing somewhere, screaming.
Screaming! Garek opened his eyes again and saw people running, people shouting, guards fighting … other guards? He turned to face a sound on his left, and saw that his death had dropped his axe and was now stumbling backwards. He got back on his feet. “Stay right were you are” his keeper reminded him before turning, sword in hand, to face Taurn, the brave fool. Garek yelled, but the ranger was already upon the royal guard. Taurn caught his strike on his own sword, before driving a dagger into the man’s armpit. “No! Taurn what do you think you’re doing!” “What does it look like? We”re saving you Sir” He paused, gestured to two of the men behind him “We should hurry now, if you’d kindly follow me to…” “No” “What did you say” “I said no! Are you insane?” “I’m sorry Sir” Taurn sighed, closing the distance between them. He put a hand on Garek’s shoulder “but you don’t get a word in this” His instincts kicked in and Garek caught the first strike, but then Taurn’s ironclad elbow was closing in on his face. He tumbled back, spitting blood “Leave me here” “No” And then the world went dark.
October’s coming to a close, and this brings about three things: The end of Skyrim month, Halloween, the mother of all non-holidays and, most importantly, the start of the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMO (hehe). Year after Year, the project has thousands of would-be writers from all over the world try to write at least 50.000 words between November 1st and November 30th, and this year I’ll be one of them. Since preparation work is allowed, and encouraged, I should probably be fleshing out character bios, putting bits of dialogue on post-it notes or stockpiling Red Bull right now, but before I start dealing with the thing proper. I thought it might be a good idea to chronicle my expectations, and then one month later we’ll see how well I kept up.
So, what do I think will happen during NaNoWriMo?
I won’t make it.
Let’s just be reasonable about this: I will fail. 50.000 words in a month is a lot, even for a professional full-time writer, and I just so happen to be a grad student with hardly any experience with narrative fiction. 50.000 words is roughly twice the amount of content in this entire blog, and look how long it took me to create all of that. I got a whole load of lectures next month, even an off-season exam. I need to finish up Skyrim month, work with the judges and create the showcase. I’d like to do one or two reviews next month. My point is, I got a whole lot of other stuff to worry about. I don’t play to lose, I’d love to hit 50.000 words and I’ll damn well try, but it seem unlikely. Even 10.000 seems unlikely, considering I’ve never tackled a project of even remotely this daunting size. Which links us to prediction number 2.
My novel will suck.
Have I mentioned that I’ve never written fiction before? Or that I’m winging it, safe for one expositional paragraph that has been floating around in my head and the roughest of possible plot outlines? Or that I don’t even know how to format such a project and will probably end up creating one overly long Word document? Even leaving aside my cluelessness, laziness and lack of preparation, it has to be assumed that at my inexperience will show. I’m not exactly how that will come to pass, might be the plot will be riddled with holes, or maybe the dialogue will end up feeling stilted or maybe, and that’s a very probable option, it will be the bastard child of so many sleep-deprived creative voids, make no sense whatsoever and read like depraved My Little Pony fanfiction (It’s not really about ponies, sorry). Whatever I end up producing, or failing to produce, chances are good it will suck ass. The important thing is: That’s okay.
That’s the beautiful thing about the lofty goal of 50.000 words. It doesn’t leave much leeway for editing, second thoughts, detailed preperation work or doubts. The only way to ever be able to crank out that much prose in that little time is to put all other things aside and write. With no time to assess the quality of your own work, you need to allow yourself to write badly. Clock’s a ticking. Don’t like this paragraph? Well whatcha gonna do, delete it? You’re working backwards. You need more words. Write, write, write, then write some more. Sort it out later. That mindset will prove to be a healthy exercise. Writing after all is something that needs practice, the more the better. The results of my writing don’t matter. The important thing is that I let the ink flow right out of my hands. No censoring, no second thoughts. I’ll write some of the worst stuff I’ve ever written, and I’ll accept that. I’ll put it up here, for all to see.
I’m not alone.
Despite being titled the National Novel Writing Month, this project isn’t actually limited to one state. Curiously enough, the forum on the site revealed that there’s a number of Wrimo’s (hehe) right in this very city. There’s even a traditional Kick Off Write In on the 31st of October. Since I’m not that big on Halloween (or rather, because I failed to acquire an Altair costume yet again), I might actually end up going there. Based on what I read, I’m not exactly sure whether to expect a party, or a dozen people writing in total silence. In that light, I’ll skip dressing up, but might be I’ll make up for that by bringing booze. Mmm brain juice. It’s probably a good idea to get in touch with local verbalists, but I’m pretty sure the experience will end up being very, very weird.
Unless I stumble upon some self-discipline tomorrow, this can’t be helped. Now, hopefully I won’t spend the entire month playing Team Fortress 2, though that’s certainly still a possibility, but it might be that I get back on my usual habit of runaround productivity. If you suddenly see a lot more activity around here, you’ll know that it’s because I’m trying to avoid my novel. To fight this problem, I’ve taken to calling it “my” novel as much as possible. Perhaps that’ll give me a sense of responsibility.