Writing Insanity in November


The NaNoWriMo site got its annual reboot, so the new banners and icons are out, and they look awesome! This is going to be my eighth year participating in NaNo, and something about the turning of the weather gets my brain inspired and brings me back to the memory of my first horribly written 50,000-word “novel.” I will never forget how incredible it was to write something at that pace. To keep on keepin’ on even though I suspected that it was utter crap. To hold onto my zeal for the epic story idea that came to me six days before November 1. And so on.

But as great as NaNoWriMo is for beginners and those who need that spark of inspiration and the rush of a deadline to finish something, it can get writers in the habit of putting words to paper (or screen) very quickly, even when there is no deadline. It can lull writers into the false sense of satisfaction and completion that hits on November 30. Yeah, you’re done… but you’re only done with the first draft. So feel free to celebrate for now, but if you want your story to have a future, you have a lot of work ahead of you.

Successful writers always say that writing is really rewriting. That means taking it slow and putting in the hours that it takes to get the plot just right, to get to know the characters, and even to get to know yourself as a writer. With revisions (and especially with editing and fine-tuning), you really can’t expect to finish anything in 30 days. You can’t even expect to finish in a year if you’re like most people. So the moral of this post is… NaNoWriMo will get you through only about 5% of the writing process. So get that first draft done. Then take your time with everything else that follows. Enjoy the story. Don’t rush it.

Musical Interlude

I meant to post this yesterday, but I was using the new “New Post” page and forgot to click “Schedule” instead of “Draft.” My bad.

On my commute, I do one of four things (besides driving, obviously): (1) sit in caffeine-deprived silence (in the mornings), (2) listen to talk radio, (3) listen to a CD, and (4) think of story ideas.

But talk radio gets irritating because it’s all about politics, which literally makes me sick to my stomach if I think about it too much. I have listened to all my CDs so many times that I know all the words to every song. My brain is too fried to think of any story ideas after work (at least it is now; I’m hoping my brain will reboot before November).

So I turned to the music stations, which I normally regret listening to because the Top 40 songs are so appallingly bad and/or get stuck in my head for days on end. The rock station plays mostly 80s, which I don’t care for, and the variety station plays the same music it’s been playing since 2002. Even so, you still hear something different and decent now and then. Like these:

  1. The Weeknd – “The Hills” (No, that’s not a typo. That’s actually how the band spells its name, probably to go along with other bands that similarly butcher English style and spelling [like fun. and the Kottonmouth Kings]. Anyway, this song is surprisingly different, being based off the movie The Hills Have Eyes [have not seen it]The creepy vibe is perfect for Halloween.)
  2. Potty Mouth – “Long Haul” (This song was released in August of this year, but it sounds like something a lot older [this is not a bad thing]. It brought me some good 90s riot grrrl vibes and even reminded me of Go Betty Go and another sadly unheard-of band called Softee.)
  3. Alex G – “Bug” (The beginning of this song reminds me of Semisonic’s “Closing Time,” which is everyone in the world’s graduation song, but the singer’s voice reminds me of the Smashing Pumpkins in their early days. Also a good memory. Don’t care much for this song’s video, though.)
  4. The Agonist – “Gates of Horn and Ivory” (I’m not as big a fan of metal as I used to be a few years ago, but this band changed vocalists, and I wanted to see how good the new vocalist was. I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t impressed either. The song itself is pretty typical of the melodic death metal genre, so it’s nice to listen to when you’re holding onto pent-up anger.)
  5. Johnny Cash – “Goodnight, Irene” (This is probably my favorite “old-time” song. It’s been covered by a million artists, so I knew in my heart that Johnny Cash had probably also covered it. I don’t think much more can be said about this song except that it is a true classic, and you should probably listen to it if you haven’t already.)

The Thursday Three #14

  1. It’s Throwback Thursday on one of my local radio stations, and it’s kind of scary that what they considered “throwbacks” were songs from when I was in high school (~10 years ago). As happy as I was to hear those songs on the radio again, I was thinking that this must mean I’m getting old… and there is an entire generation of kids who will never know what a “hollaback girl” is (and they should be glad about that).
  2. I put both my works in progress on hold so I could concentrate on writing a short story for a contest (best motivator to finish something ever: the chance to actually be paid for it). I didn’t expect it to, but the story is coming together. I set it aside for a few days to get some distance from it, so when I pick it back up on Saturday, I may consider it the worst thing I’ve ever written, but nothing related to writing is ever a waste of time (except surfing the Internet and claiming that it’s for “research”).
  3. Before the Oregon shooting that happened today, there was apparently a series of messages on that cesspool of a website filled with anger and resentment, 4chan. The person who posted the messages may not have been involved with the shooting at all, but some of the messages gave suggestions of how the person should carry out the attack and murder his victims. You never can tell whether those who post on 4chan or serious about what they are saying or if they are trying to make a joke or get their kicks, but there are always those unfortunate (and possibly ill) people who will take whatever they see on the Internet seriously. Pray for the victims.