National Novel Writing Month 2003!

Emotional anguish on a daily basis, just for you.

No further updates will be made to this journal.

27/10/2003: Monday, Day -5 – 0 words – The story so far.

Once again this year, I will voluntarily undergo the bizarre psychological torture test suggested by the fine folks at the National Novel Writing Month headquarters (http://www.nanowrimo.com/). Indeed, from November 1st to November 30th, I will attempt to write a (very bad) 50,000+ words novel.

If you’ve been following my adventures so far, you already know that the 2002 NaNoWriMo experiment was a success, in that I managed to write and then (later) edit a somewhat readable 400-pages novel. It wasn’t always pretty, but it worked, and ultimately that’s why I’m attempting the experience again.

It won’t be as easy as last year, though: Whereas I was then "novelizing" an existing 120-pages script, I’ll be working from a mere synopsis this year without much of the dialogue and characters definition I could rely upon in 2002. (Well, "mere" synopsis is a matter of measure, I suppose: Over the weekend before last, I whipped a year’s worth of notes into shape and ended up with a 36-pages, 22,241 words outline. The optimist in me is saying that I "just" need to turn every word of the outline in four new words to end up with a 90,000 words novel.)

So that’s where matters stand at the moment: I’m ready for November, with a good outline, a new NaNoWriMo account (look for "Slorz" in Ottawa, Ontario) and (woot-woot!) a brand-new official NaNoWriMo T-Shirt that came in the mail just today. Bring it on!

Rockland, ON – 29/10/02 20:46:23 CST


31/10/2003: Friday, Day -1 – 0 words – Questions, answers.

On Hallow’s Eve, a few ponderings:

Why am I doing this? It’s a learning process, mostly. Last year showed me that it’s possible for me to write a novel. This year will (hopefully) teach me to do it on a semi-professional basis. Aside from the new challenges posed by the story. (a brand-new story, with the exact same three-act structure of last year! Wee!)

What’s the story’s about? Faith. Scepticism. How being doubtful is desirable in a wider-social context and destructive in a smaller-social relationship. How the world is shaped by our beliefs and how hard truth can be to accept.

No, but really? It’s a thriller that veers in spy novel territory before taking a sharp turn toward horror to end in science-fiction (where it’s been all along)

And then? It’s the story of a boy who comes to love automatic weapons and the Catholic Church.

Can we read it? You’ll have to wait until it’s done.

Writerese technical details, please? Written using MS-Word XP. I would desperately love to use OpenOffice, but Word’s InstaWordCount bar is just too dang useful, along with the built-in translator. The novel is written in French, from the heavily detailed synopsis (in English) mentioned above.

Rockland, ON – 31/10/ 21:32 EST


01/11/2003: Saturday, Day 1 – 3,012 words – Initial Rush!

Cripes. Got stuck with multiple crises at once. One fire at a time; wrote from 9:00 to 12:00 with the hoped-for three thousand words (hopefully a daily average from now on) and spent the rest of the day on a lucrative web design contract.

Rockland, ON – 01/11/03 23:14 EST


02/11/2003: Sunday, Day 2 – 6,074 words – Clock. Ticking.

It’s not a good thing that I’m able to account, on paper for every single waking hour of my weekend. Wrote from nine to noon (three thousand words, yay.), being reminded in the process that I was to be picked up for my sister’s graduation at half past noon. Saw my sister get her master’s degree (Yay, her!), then came back home and worked some more on the web contract, logging a total of nineteen hours over the weekend. Plus six hours at my sister’s graduation. Plus six hours of writing. Not a lot left.

Rockland, ON – 29/10/02 23:06 EST


03/11/2003: Monday, Day 3 – 9,034 words – Character study

First weekday of NaNoWriMo, and it’s proceeding on plan. Wrote three thousand word from 19:00 to 22:00 (slightly less than that, actually), a bunch of pages about and starring my protagonist. In doing, discovered some unconscious symbolism related to his car; this isn’t the first time I discover natural connections between the description of my character and his mental state, but it’s always pleasant when it happens.

In other news, Smarties have been acquired. Post-Halloween Blowout sale at the supermarket. Read last year’s blog (especially the editing phase) to understand the importance of Smarties in Sauvesque fiction.

Rockland, ON – 03/11/03 22:02 EST


04/11/2003: Tuesday, Day 4 – 12,068 words – The Plot is Moving.

Fought a terrible headache coming back home, and attained mental harmony in time for (or because of) my NaNoWriMo block of time. Finished the protagonist exposition and sent him in the field to investigate a bit, where he met a (rather good, if I may say so) minor foil. At least we’re back on plot.

Rockland, ON – 04/11/03 22:01 EST


05/11/2003: Wednesday, Day 5 – 15,069 words – Novel Revolutions.

Took off the afternoon (burning half a vacation day), to see THE MATRIX REVOLUTIONS, then came back home and had a most satisfying writing session. It started out slowly, but ended a little bit in advance. My self-imposed "three thousand words in three hours" discipline is paying off in that I can reliably gauge whether I’m progressing or not. The first two chapters are done (along with eight of the outline’ 36 pages). But then again, I’m still in the "heavily detailed" portion of my synopsis.

Rockland, ON – 05/11/03 21:47 EST


06/11/2003: Thursday, Day 6 – 18,002 words – Surviving SURVIVOR

Thanks to my sister, I have no choice but to watch SURVIVOR, which obviously eats into my prime-time writing period. I prepared myself and started half an hour early, skipped the SURVIVOR hour and still ended at 22:00 at the three-thousand words mark. Yessir.

In other news, I read a few NaNoWriMo blogs today and was rather unimpressed at some of them. Not in content (mine isn’t much of an example, after all; this year’s entries are an exercise in minimalism) but rather in attitude. I know that my rigidly organised approach to NaNoWriMo (year-long prep time, monstrous outline, set hours, social sacrifices) isn’t the norm for this exercise, but goodness –some people should take this more seriously. I think. Or maybe not, given how humourless this year’s approach has made me.

As far as the novel goes, well today I destroyed my protagonist’s job, his car and his condo and then shipped him off to Europe as a further punishment. All went according to plan, mua-ha-ha-ha. Tomorrow, we stick around a university library in beautiful downtown Rome.

Rockland, ON – 06/11/03 22:38 EST


07/11/2003: Friday, Day 7 – 21,241 words – Roman research

Started late, ended pretty much exactly three hours later with the required wordage. What took a while was that my character arrived in Rome not knowing much more than I did about the
city. The research to A> lodge him and B> find him a good library took a few minutes, but I ended up finding to real-world places (with pictures!) that are exactly what I needed. (Yay for my perceptive Travel Guide purchase!) Note to self; next time I’m in Rome, stay at Planet 29 and go check out John Cabot University’s Library. Otherwise, well it’s a fairly quiet moment for our protagonist as he digs down deep in forensic accounting… but he should be dodging rocket-launched imploders before the end of business day tomorrow.

Rockland, ON – 07/11/03 22:20 EST


08/11/2003: Saturday, Day 8 – 27,087 words – Through the looking glass

I’d say it was a good day (6,000 words and change), but it actually went as I planned: two three-hours sessions of 3,000 words each, to catch up a little bit in anticipation of a writing-less Friday and a little buffer in order to complete my 100kword target by the end of the month. Broke through the 25,000 mark today, which would be the half-point if I was writing up to 50,000. But I’m not…

Plot-wise, my character just went from one side of the conspiracy to the other, "through the looking glass" to the other side of the world. Well, sort-of; as we’re in act two, the story is moving from a mysterious conspiracy thriller to a Hogwart-for-spies. Needless to say, the two big scenes required to "sell" this transition were rather easy to write. (It helped that the outline was unusually more detailed than even my own standard). It gets more difficult from now on, as the outline gets fuzzier and I finally get to start writing from another character viewpoint.

But know what sucks, though? The fact that my slap-dash outline reads better than the gdamned novel. The outline is zippy, stylish, toc-toc-toc to the point and packed with plenty of good lines. It just reads well. In comparison, the novel is leaden, featureless and dull. At least, that’s the way it seems so far. 🙂 All kidding aside, though, this year seems a lot more even from an emotional perspective (so far); I sit down, write the usual thousand-words-per-hour and I’m done. Earlier today, I used the term "professional development" when describing my motivations for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I’m so there; I even have the arrogant contempt down pat.

Rockland, ON – 08/11/03 22:02 EST


09/11/2003: Sunday, Day 9 – 33,041 words – Talky Sunday

Easy day. The morning three-thousand-words session took a solid (and usual) three hours, but the evening session went well and was wrapped up in barely two hours and a half. Our protagonist had a series of discussions, and that’s pretty much it. I want to write some action, but there’s plenty of that coming up… in roughly two days.

Rockland, ON – 09/11/03 21:26 EST


10/11/2003: Monday, Day 10 – 36,030 words – Economic Recovery

Well, that was weird.

Had the hardest time getting started, mostly because today’s wordage was all about small disconnected vignettes without much of a dramatic arc to them. Only truly started churning out the words when my protagonist got lost in a contemplation of American financial issues (budget and trade deficit, military spending, foreign investments, the weakness of the dollar versus the Euro, etc.) and the link between economic theory and pure faith. Suddenly, it was 750 words later and I was back on track. I may the the only NaNoWriMer to get off on that stuff… but somehow I doubt it.

In other news, I made the mistake of reading the second (current) draft of last year’s NaNoWriMo experiment. Oh, it’s not too bad, and that’s the problem; it’s actually quite readable after the revisions I made to it, and I just wish I could be at that stage with this novel already. The biggest difference that struck me between initial NaNoWriMo draft and re-written manuscript was the dramatisation of the story in the characters’ internal monologue: Right now, it’s as if I’m still not comfortable with the characters and hence still writing with a detached, pseudo-objective tone. (Though that has been changing over the past few days as I warm up to the protagonist.) Also among the day’s highlights; an off-the-cuff suggestion (by someone who was kind enough to read a part of the outline), now to become one of a main character’s defining traits.

Rockland, ON – 10/11/03 22:08 EST


11/11/2003: Tuesday, Day 11 – 42,054 words – Economic Recovery

I used the opportunity offered by the Remembrance holiday to fit in two three-hours sessions, with the predictable six-thousand words output. (That will at least compensate for what promises to be a wordless Friday, other obligations taking precedence.) Both sessions were similar in that they started out late and slowly and dealt with frighteningly boring expositionnary material (about stuff like the Secret Vatican Archives; ooh, research!) that has to get out of the way before ceding place to some good action. Tomorrow, we go bug-hunting, and my protagonist will be driven even deeper in the secrets of the world.

Aw, crap; As some of you know, I’m registered on the NaNoWriMo board as "slorz", where I’ve been happily plugging away my wordcount, safe in a comfortable second place (in Ottawa) behind someone even crazier that I am. Now I just found out that she’s done (as in 50,010 words, novel completed, never going to add another word done) and that by Saturday I’ll be in first place (in Ottawa) with what looks like no competion likely to catch up. Damn. I hate the attention. Now they’re going to hate me… (Update, Day 12: Yay! She writes again! But guess what? I’m now looking at the Ontario board, where I’m at an even-more comfortable 4th on the list.)

Rockland, ON – 11/11/03 22:08 EST


12/11/2003: Wednesday, Day 12 – 45,086 words – Bug Hunt (1)

Eaaasy day, writing-wise. For one thing, I’m finally out of the dull stuff and so wrote the lead-up to the novel’s first real action scene. I love that kind of stuff; very cinematographic, very easy to write. I typed quickly and had to restrain myself not to go for four thousand words. Pacing! Pacing!

At least it compensated for an otherwise pretty unsettling day at work.

Rockland, ON – 12/11/03 21:38 EST


13/11/2003: Thursday, Day 13 – 47,038 words – Surviving the Bug Hunt (2)

I know, I know; only two thousand words today. Given that I once again sacrificed an hour of my prime writing time for SURVIVOR (don’t ask), that about seems right. The action scene continues, with a few final words revealing an atomic countdown (egawd!). Tomorrow may either be a very good or very bad day, depending on the weather.

Rockland, ON – 13/11/03 22:06 EST


14/11/2003: Friday, Day 14 – 49,048 words – Rollin’ with the Bug Hunt (3)

Picture the scene: Night has fallen and a car is rolling on Highway 417 from Ottawa to Montreal. A young woman is driving. Meanwhile, in the passenger’s seat, her brother’s maniacal face is lit up by the white backlight of a laptop as he furiously type 2,000 words in something like 90 minutes.

This may not be anyone’s wildest NaNoWriMo story yet, but it certainly is mine. Tomorrow, we blow up that 50,000 words mark.

Ottawa, ON-Montréal, QC – 14/11/03 18:15 EST


15/11/2003: Saturday, Day 15 – 56,036 words – Sloggy Saturday

Wow. I thought it had been a pretty slow/sluggish/sucky day, but looking back on the day’s work, I’
ve got a massive exposition scene, a plot-progression scene, a seduction/corruption scene and a two-month jump in action in the bag. Not bad. Well, okay, maybe very bad, but still, they’re all new words and new pages. I even managed to catch up a thousand words. Tomorrow, the action goes to New York, where I’ll have to cook up a scene purposefully left blank in the outline.

Oh yeah; I broke the 50,000-words mark today. I don’t really care; I’m not close to being done yet.

Rockland, ON – 15/11/03 22:00 EST


16/11/2003: Sunday, Day 16 – 60,071 words – Small sucky Sunday

The outline had problems at this junction, and so does today’s portion of the manuscript. I’m doing "only" four thousand words today because it just isn’t working. I’ll fix it in post-production.

Rockland, ON – 16/11/03 17:05 EST


17/11/2003: Monday, Day 17 – 63,003 words – Minimum Monday

I’m rushing through a lot of other things beside my novel, including wrapping up the afore-mentioned lucrative web contact and reviewing my résumé (don’t ask). Wasn’t completely displeased by what I wrote today, but the stinkiness of this past weekend’s production became more and more apparent. Editing this novel will be a bitch, because it isn’t half as well structured as the first draft of last year’s novel was. I’m having trouble showing rather than telling; my characters are still nebulous; I’m stuck in, at most, only three different viewpoints; many of the details are blanks awaiting further research; there’s no action; and my protagonist is just boring.

Mostly, though, I’m stuck in the lull between Act Two and Act Three. Things ought to improve as soon as I hit the last stretch.

Rockland, ON – 17/11/03 22:11 EST


18/11/2003: Tuesday, Day 18 – 66,044 words – Terrible Tuesday

Sucky writing today, only marginally redeemed by a rather disgusting scene in the last thousand words written. I think that, when writing horror, it’s a good sign when I manage to disgust myself with what I’m describing. Otherwise, few things to report. I’m beginning to realize that I may have to write more than 100,000 words to wrap it all up. Still struggling somewhat, but tomorrow should be more fun, what with a big action scene coming up.

Rockland, ON – 18/11/03 22:22 EST


19/11/2003: Wednesday, Day 19 – 69,036 words – End of an era, a day like most others

Dramatic changes at work today, but guess what? The writing continues apace, with an action sequence dragging on for longer than I thought and some pretty spiffy purple gore coming out of it. Ironically enough, the professional seven-to-ten, 3000-words approach looks a lot like an island of stability these days. My only worry is that I might run out of time before I run out of story…

Rockland, ON – 19/11/03 22:14 EST


20/11/2003: Thursday, Day 20 – 72,132 words – Not a half-bad day

Three thousand easy words despite interruptions, completing the action sequence I’ve been working on for three days and then setting up a funeral scene. (Yes, someone died) Then, after I had written the day’s quota, I realized how I could have dramatized a lot of the exposition and groaned audibly. That particular idea goes straight in the "things to be done during editing" file.

Rockland, ON – 20/11/03 22:47 EST


21/11/2003: Friday, Day 21 – 75,129 words – Emotional trouble

Three thousand easy words today once more, but for the second time this month I was stuck with a very unpleasant feeling of disappointment at how a certain scene turned out. I’m a writer who specializes in ideas, in plotting and in action. While I recognize the importance of character and emotion, I’m just not particularly good at representing both. So when I get a really good emotion-driven character scene, I don’t know what to do with it; I look at the scene like it had been dropped in my lap undeservedly, knowing fully well that my writing skills aren’t good enough to do justice to it. It happened once earlier with a fantastic (and disturbing) scene that truly made my antagonist come alive. It happened today again with a deeply moving scene adding tons of depth to both the protagonist and a major supporting character (I, myself, wuz moved). The problem with both scenes is that what’s on the page is only a tiny fraction of what I had envisioned as taking place. In theory, I should be able to fix this during the editing phase. In reality, I don’t think I can write well enough yet to be able to do it. Maybe in a few years…

Rockland, ON – 21/11/03 22:29 EST


22/11/2003: Saturday, Day 22 – 81,061 words – Near-perfect day

Ah, if all days could be as satisfying as this one… nearly six thousand words in less than four and a half hours (in two separate sessions). Things flew well, I took good care of a nice emotional scene, settled one big action scene and generally enjoyed myself. Words flew. Yay.

It struck me today that the editing phase will be concentrated on making my novel both more like a movie and more like a novel. On one hand, I’ll have to find ways to dramatize the exposition by asking myself "how would they film this?" and on the other, I’ll have to delve deep in my viewpoint character’s mind to humanize the scenes they’re in. Oh, and add tons of romance.

Rockland, ON – 22/11/03 17:47 EST


23/11/2003: Sunday, Day 23 – 87,036 words – But I look stunning in purple!

Another excellent day today, not as much in terms of wordage (again, two three-thousand words sessions, churning up a total of six thousand words in something like an easy four hours and a half) but in terms of speed; despite covering a rather vague and dull section of the outline (the last stretch before the last action sequence), I made good progress and didn’t bog myself down… even when I had to write the obligatory breakup scene. (It’s easy to type from memory)

In other news, the automatic validator at nanowrimo.org took a look at my word-count and declared poor little me an official 50,000+ words winner! Yay! My NaNoWriMo word count bar is now purple! Interestingly enough, I had to truncate the section of the manuscript I sent because they recommended not sending more than 70,000 words. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there…

Things are looking good for reaching over 100,000 words. I should take care of the remainder of the pre-action sequence setup tomorrow, and then spend the rest of the week killing extra-dimensional creatures, only to wrap it all up by Saturday. Four pages of outlined material to go! If there’s time left, I’ll kill the pope. (In the novel, people, in the novel.)

Rockland, ON – 23/11/03 17:41 EST


24/11/2003: Monday, Day 24 – 90,010 words – I blame it all on (a)steroids

It took a while to churn out the three thousand words today (including an amusing cyberwarfare sequence "won" by the oldest trick in the book), but it’s really hard to give life to a story while watching a fascinating CBC documentary on asteroids. Yes, yes.

I’m still unsure as to how many words are left in the novel, but today went more or less as planned. Trivia: Last year’s total at the end of November was 86,321 words. It later went up to 105,963 words after revision.

Rockland, ON – 24/11/03 22:41 EST


25/11/2003: Tuesday, Day 25 – 93,013 words – Novelist, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the Word

Began late, thanks to MASTER AND COMMANDER (hey, it’s only my second movie at all this mo
nth, which is a record low in a long while) and ended a little bit later than usual despite some fairly satisfying writing. The final action sequence has begun and the gates of hell have been opened… and I pretty much mean this literally.

I’m nearly certain to hit 100,000+ words and to finish on either Friday or Saturday. Either that, or I start padding in order to get that 100K. Yes, constant readers: One hundred thousand words, or the pope gets it.

Rockland, ON – 25/11/03 22:38 EST


26/11/2003: Wednesday, Day 26 – 96,118 words – Rushing towards the end

Began on time, broke for SURVIVOR (but no complaints, no no) and ended late, but what a rush! Pure action, pure countdowns, automatic guns, helicopter gunships, purple gore. Tomorrow, we go thermonuclear on a global scale. Looks like the pope will be saved after all.

(In other news, congratulations to my good friend burkingman, who broke through 50,000 words today! Woo to him!)

Rockland, ON – 26/11/03 22:42 EST


27/11/2003: Thursday, Day 27 – 99,003 words – Whew (not done yet)

Started early, finished the usual 3,000 words slightly after nine o’clock. Was I able to resist the temptation to reach 100,000 words? Heck yeah. Discipline ought to be my middle name.

I was half-pleased, half-disappointed by today’s chunk of novel. It’s not every day that you get to describe limited thermonuclear strikes (along with such goodies as FAE effects, B-1B bombers breaking supersonic speed over urban areas and the Pope asking a very special favor to the President). On the other hand, well, the scale of the action is so vast that a lot of the timing has to be retro-adjusted, there’s a drop in character-driven tension and some military details tend to be very clinical. More sutff to be fixed in editing.

Given that this is a blog of sorts and that blogs originated from lists of links worth sharing, I thought I’d encourage you to read two viciously anti-NaNoWriMo opinion pieces (one from 2002 and the other from 2003). I’ll withold comment… except to say that there are rather more than one way to write or become a bona-fide author. Some of them require less self-loathing than others.

Rockland, ON – 27/11/03 21:21 EST


28/11/2003: Friday, Day 28 – 101,422 words – Every novel that has a beginning has an end

I see the end coming, I see the plotlines resolving. I see death… and I am the only one to write it. If I cannot finish it tonight, then I fear tomorrow will never come.

It ends. It ends tonight.

Woooooo! Done!

Further comments tomorrow as I spell-check.

Now, off to sleep.

Rockland, ON – 28/11/03 22:07 EST


29/11/2003: Saturday, Day 29 – 101,515 words – Spellchecking thoughts: Things to fix

All right, party-people: Here are the relevant statistics:

212 pages
3,365 paragraphs
8,937 lines
101,515 words
524,238 characters
626,985 characters (with spaces)
83 revisions
5,475 minutes (roughly 91 hours and a quarter.)

While idly going through the manuscript to fix the most obvious spelling mistakes, my fingers itched to start fixing portions of the novel. Rather than do so immediately (a bad idea, given the lack of distance from the written text), I thought I’d make a top ten list of things to fix in the first editing pass.

  • Harmonization: Several names, characters, details were adjusted while writing for better effect, or simply out of sheer laziness. Those will have to be standardized.
  • The Protagonist: Mister goody-two-shoes is dull and unresponsive. Next time, let’s make him a little bit angrier.
  • The god-awful romance: While I could get away with a "placeholder" romance in this first draft, the next one will have to be far more believable in this regard.
  • Technical details: No, the UK doesn’t use Black Hawk transport helicopters. They use EH-101s. This will have to be fixed, along with tons and dozens of other historical, technical, scientific and military details. Research!
  • Dramatization: A lot of the exposition is presented as a character simply thinking about it. Let’s move it to external scenes. Dialogues. Demonstrations.
  • Internal monologues: Our viewpoint characters witness an awful lot, but they don’t think too much about it. Well, let’s heat up that "italics" font for more, more, more of their inner thoughts!
  • Viewpoints: Some tightening of viewpoints is required, back towards the three main characters. Also; more of the antagonist! She’s the coolest characters around!
  • The Science-Fiction elements: I may have made my antagonists too powerful, or too inconsistent. Plus the end may be a touch too rushed for the final revelation to be adequately explained. Plus there’s coherency issues to be dealt with; why can a weapon be used here but not there?
  • Down with useless chapters! At least one eight-pages segments o fthe novel could be chucked away without too much problem. So let’s do that and use the words elsewhere.
  • (Secondary) Characterizations: Now that I have established why I need certain secondary characters, let’s give them names, personalities and more presence. It’ll make everything flow more smoothly, and it’ll improve the realism of the novel.

Overall, though, I’m rather pleased. But I’ll explain what I thought worked really well tomorrow, as the penultimate entry of this journal.

Rockland, ON – 29/11/03 22:37 EST


30/11/2003: Sunday, Day 30 – 101,515 words – Postmortem: What did work

As a way of letting go of this phase, here’s a brief run-down of what did work during the past thirty days:

  • The process just works: Three hours every day, from 19:00 to 22:00, to produce three thousand words. Two such sessions on weekends if time allows. Try to finish as close as possible to the three thousand to ease pacing concerns. As it turns out, I only "failed" at producing three thousand words on two (successive) days (one of them as I was travelling to and from Montréal), and those were caught up immediately afterward.
  • The outline worked out just as planned, which wasn’t much of a surprise given the time I spent thinking about the outline, but was a nice surprise nonetheless. The structure held up, the main beats of the story was also followed rather closely and even the scene breakdown worked when it was specified in the outline. The only thing that could be done better next year would be to pre-dramatize some sections rather than simply state "and this happens".
  • In this particular novel, I was quite pleased to see the gradual revelation of secrets emerge as not only a success, but a sub-theme of the novel itself. It all worked out much better than the first concept, which just delivered all the secrets in one lump scene a third of the way through.
  • Action scenes are fun. Yes, they are.
  • This journal may not have been read by a whole bunch of people, but it was worth doing if only for the daily sum-up of words and impressions. (Also, my siblings like it.)
  • As you may have gathered from the above, November 2003 was a time of momentous organisational changes at work. All levels of (my) management were affected and the result was a few weeks of troubling uncertainty. Amusingly enough, NaNoWriMo represented an isalnd of amazing stability through it all; whatever happened during daytime, I knew I could rely on three hours of creative calm every evening.
  • I can not only read in a car, I can also write in a car! Ha!

  • My inner editor can be shut up with an admirable ease. "We’ll fix it in post" also works for novels, not just movies.
  • I may not have much faith in my ability to crank out good prose, but my confidence in my skills in cranking out steady streams of words is growing! Ya, NaNoWriMo!
  • Perhaps more importantly, though, is the obvious realization that last year’s NaNoWriMo success wasn’t simply a fluke. Give me a year to think about it, a solid outline and a month that’s mostly free of distraction, and the end result will be a novel. Next year, maybe we’ll focus on quality.

The work is far from over; January and February will be a time of revision for the NaNoWriMo-2002 novel, and March-April will be editing time for this NaNoWriMo-2003 novel. But then, the plot hamster will start running again: What shall I write about next year? Yes, unless disaster strikes (or I’m smitten by a redheaded vixen… another type of disaster), there will be a NaNoWriMo 2004. What will it be about? I have an idea or two already. Check the next entry for a few details!

Rockland, ON – 30/11/03 23:45 EST


01/12/2003: Monday, Day minus 334 – 0 words – What’s next

Yes, already I’m lining up ideas for the next novel. Things may change, inspiration may strike, plots could magically be delivered by mail, but at this moment I have two projects in mind.

The first one would be a contemporary thriller set in Ottawa, featuring a pair of police officers, a Canadian and an American, investigating a criminal case with ties to terrorism and Washington… Working tile would be Pax Americana, and you better believe there’s plenty of stuff I want to say about that particular issue. Unfortunately, such a project would involve a lot of real-world research and could be very quickly overtaken by real-world developments. As it happens, the start of the next NaNoWriMo happens to coincide with the end of the next Presidential elections campaign. Maybe I should wait until the first week of November 2004 and let the American voters decide which novel I’ll write…

The other, perhaps more exciting project, would be a true science-fiction novel, a real attempt at predicting what may very well happen in seventy-odd years. Hard-SF, social SF and military SF mixed in together, perhaps in a story adapted from another script of mine written almost ten years ago… The theme would be about that most contentious of issues, change itself; how to manage it, how to embrace it and how to contain it. In some way this has the potential of becoming a highly political novel. We’ll see what the plot hamster has to say about it.

Rockland, ON – 01/12/03 22:59 EST


Post scriptum: As it happens, I ended up being the 35th down the final list of NaNoWriMo participants (out of, oh, roughly 25,000) in terms of total word count. Perhaps even a nudge higher, given some suspiciously high word counts in the first few places…

Last Updated:
November 2003