Thursday, November 20, 2014

It's my novel - I can write what I want to

In my last point, I included a little number at the bottom to track my progress in NaNoWriMo, with the hope that I'd reach maybe 25,000 - 30,000 words by the end of the month. Well, without further ado, here's my grand total right now:

[NaNoWriMo 2014 Progress: 9,161 words as of November 19]

Wow, that's...underwhelming. And the reason is I've changed course and am no longer working on Native Son this month. Instead, I've chosen to redirect my creative energies and fleeting free time to:

1) finalizing edits on The Queenschair Volume II: Of Goddess Born, which I expect to release in mid-December

2) finishing the new segments in The Queenschair Volume III: A Kingdom Apart, which were completed about a week ago so the book is "done" and ready for intensive edits

3) plowing ahead with The Queenschair Volume IV: Blood of Our Own, which involves rewriting the 70% that's already done and then writing the missing 30%.

Why did I suddenly jump from one thing to another? To put it simply: I felt like it.

Which leads me to my Big Point for today: write what you want, if at all possible. I include that caveat at the end because I understand not everyone is free to do that, or at least they feel pressure to do something else. A popular writer whose fans clamor for a continuation of a past series may choose to write that sequel and rake in some handsome profits rather than start a new series. A writer under contract to a traditional publisher may face deadlines to deliver her next book; she's not going to be totally free to pour her energies into a new passion project. A writer who follows the market and tries to ape what's selling these days may find himself writing all sorts of things he doesn't even enjoy.

There are a million and one scenarios out there, and every writing life is different. I'm happy to say mine is unfettered and free. If I miss the Queenschair world (and I always do), I can write that now and into next week. The week after that, I might be inspired by something I see on TV and decide I want to jump back into Native Son. It's all good.

And maybe, hypothetically, there's just a one crazy week when 2 fantastic and long-awaited video games are released; we'll call them "Dragon Age: Inquisition the Real and Truly Worthy Sequel to Origins" and "Grand Theft Auto V the Next-Gen Remake Which is Totally Sweet". Totally hypothetically. And maybe the week after that is Thanksgiving which is just insane in its own way. The amount of writing work that gets done might take a hit. And that's okay.

I, and hopefully you, can write what you want to, when you want to. And right now, it's time to get to work!

"It's still kinda rough, but here's the world map for my next book. So...what do you guys think?"

Monday, November 10, 2014

NaNoWriMo 2014!

The concept is simple enough. Sign up and make a commitment to write at least 50,000 words during the month of November, at an average of about 1,667 words a day. Some people have no trouble doing that on a regular basis and so National Novel Writing Month is every month for them. As much I'd love to say that applies to me, I can't!

The Queenschair was written during my first year participating in NaNoWriMo, back in 2011; I passed the 57,000 word mark if memory serves. I felt great. I felt accomplished. And then I took the next 7 months to write the remaining 100,000 words or so.

In 2012 and 2013 I found myself coming back to the NaNo website, signing back up, and not getting anywhere close to 50,000 words. But it wasn't wasted time; it was always fun to have an artificial goal/deadline in place, and extra fun to imagine there were thousands of other people enjoying (more like suffering) the struggle of churning out a consistent word count. That's the most important concept I learned from NaNo: the art of writing and not scrutinizing it the very next day. You had no time to do that; you had to keep writing and getting those words down and advancing the story. Editing would come later and be its own painfully laborious process. (Doesn't writing sound like such fun? It is, though!)

Although NaNo is strictly self-policing and your only real reward is the feeling of self-accomplishment, I did follow the rules, and one of them was that you had to start a novel from scratch (and not be tacking on 50,000 words to a work-in-progress). However, I saw that this year they seemed to have softened the language on that and it was acceptable to bring in an existing novel. I didn't see that until November 3, when two full writing days of NaNo had already come and gone, and I immediately signed up for the 2014 event.

And...the novel I'm working on is not Queenschair-related! It was time to take a break.

(Not to despair! Volume I is of course available on Volume II is complete and currently in edits, and may be released even earlier than scheduled in December 2014. Volume III is complete except for a couple of new scenes and is looking good for April 2015. Volume IV is actually about 70% written but needs a lot of work, so I'm glad I have a year to get it out there.)

The project I brought into NaNoWriMo 2014 is Native Son, an alternate-history science fiction novel I started in October 2013. It would have made a great NaNo project if the event had been a month earlier. I wrote about 50,000 words of it in a flash, then lost momentum and finally set it aside to return to working on Queenschair. And now I'm back on it...and hoping to finish it by the end of 2014! Reaching 50,000 words in NaNo is highly unlikely but that's okay; if I can get about 30,000 by the end of November, then I'll be heading right into the home stretch.

More on Native Son in a later post!

[NaNoWriMo 2014 Progress: 6,562 words as of November 9]

Tokyo Sky Tree, photo taken from Ueno Park, May 2012
Why's there a photo of Tokyo Sky Tree at the bottom of this post? Maybe I just like it. Or maybe it has some nebulous relation to Native Son? Await the answer with baited breath, if you've just had some sushi :)