Friday, November 30, 2007

My To-Do List for the next while

For my own use, here's my to-do list for the next while. Things with a time limit are indicated with the time limit.

  1. Finish the first draft of WTC by mid-December.
  2. Finish plot-resolution of MS and get it printed by Christmas.
  3. Start editing MS
  4. Get MS to my initial readers by March 1
  5. Start new first draft
  6. Begin blogging regularly
  7. Study what makes a good blog and learn about blogging
  8. Make my blog pretty and useful by March 1
  9. Gain a readership
  10. Get audiorecorder and play at making a podcast
  11. Create a single demo audio file by May 1
  12. After feedback from initial readers, begin final drafting of MS
  13. Start querrying agents by August 1
  14. Start saving up for a new computer in time for my birthday (Oct 27)
  15. Research for next year's NaNo Novel (White Novel)
  16. Get out of debt
  17. Stop spending money
  18. Take over the world

Good goals, good goals. I'll come back and update this by bolding finished ones as I am able.

NaNoWriMo Victory!

I'm a NaNo winner for 2007. I know it's a pretty big accomplishment, and I do feel pretty good about it, but I wanted to take today (the last day of NaNo) to talk about what it means to have been a part of NaNo and what it's accomplished in my life.

I found NaNo completely by accident. Here it is, mid-October, and I'm perusing Wikipedia at work. MS is my focus right now, I have maybe 20000 words left to go on it (it's hard to recall). I end up reading something about a writing contest in November. Writing contest? What? I, foolishly, follow the link to the main website.

NaNoWriMo (found, ironically enough, at ) stands for National Novel Writing Month. For anyone who doesn't know, NaNo is a free contest where users sign up and then attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. You have to start on or after Nov 1, and you have to submit your final word count by midnight November 30.

The goal of NaNo is to get people writing. Now, I'm a big believer in 'if you're a writer you need to write' ever since I first read it when Stephen King's On Writing came out and I decided to try to give it a shot. I haven't always done it, but I've always held that to be what I should be aspiring to. And after angsty on and off periods with my first novel, I had already committed myself to at least attempting MS every day. I didn't always succeed. But the first draft didn't take any longer than four months, which is a signifiant difference compared to 4 years. If I could up my speed by that much, surely I could up my speed again and not only do 50000 words in a month, but finish the first draft completely!

So I signed up for NaNo. I take two days a week off of writing, for my wrists' sake and because I have a social life and right now I can't juggle writing on my social days (transportation issues leave me with too long of a commute). That meant that I'd need to write at least 2800 words on each day I wrote to hit 50,000. Which was a significant amount more than I had been doing (some 1500 or so probably a day) but doable. I set myself a goal for 3000 words a day.
Of course, MS wasn't done. So with the remaining two weeks of October, I flew through the last bit of MS. MS was completed on the 30th of October. I took October 31st off of writing. And then, at mightnight on the 1st of November, I began WTC.

NaNo's been an interesting experience. I hit 50,000 words nine days ago. I was pretty good about sticking to my schedule, sometimes even getting more. The moment I hit 50,000 though, I became lazy. That was bad. Then again, I've also been tottering near burnout due to my frantic pace from one novel straight into another. So I guess I can be excused, but I'd rather not be. Since then, I've managed another 12 thousand leaving me with 62000 as of today and yesterday (I took yesterday off due to wrist and hand pain).

But I did it. And it wasn't that hard. Not that I expected it to be. I know that 50,000 is a drop in the bucket. My novel was half done at 50,000. I hadn't even gotten to the good stuff yet. It was all building up to it still. Frustrating. I hate the middle of novels. It helped to have the forums to commisserate with. They're a wonderful resource full of people struggling or succeeding, lost or sure, beginners and veterns alike.

It also helped to join the regional board and meet local writers. I think I'm about the craziest, publication-focused of the lot, but it's not that bad. They're a great group, and I appreciate them all. I've never met serious writers before. I've met One Day Writers, as in "one day I'll write a book" but never people who actually attempted it aside from myself. It was nice to see how many different people could do it, how many walks of life could be drawn to this one crazy thing. It's been so motivating to see that I wasn't the only one. Having a feeling of community is absolutely essential.

I'm already chomping at the bit for NaNo 2008. I'd highly suggest that anyone who wants to write but can't find the motivation should give it a shot. When you make the time, you'll find the time. That's just how it goes. If anybody complains about not having time, just read the posts by single mothers with young children and a job who still complete 50,000 words in November. Trust me, YOU CAN DO IT. Anybody could complete NaNo. It will teach you the crash course in rock star writing. No worries about whether it sucks. Just letting it all hang out and daring to suck and actually writing instead of talking about it.

I won't try to evangelize NaNo this year, since it's over today. But I will be pimping NaNo up and down next year. It's a wonderful thing. So here's a year warning. Anyone could do NaNo at least once. Only someone afraid of their own potential would refuse. Only someone who doesn't realize their own abilities lets it overwhelm them. ANYONE can do it. Everyone should. That's a wonderful thing.

Now I just have to finish this stupid draft. =D

Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Second Attempt: Why Blogging?

I don't want to be that blogger who posts six times a day about the most inane shit. I really don't. So don't expect it. But I need to put this down on paper so I have it up to see and you know if you bother to read through the archives and stumble upon it.

I have no real need to blog. I write. I work on my novels. That's my career. My day job is in an office doing office work to make money. I'm on the computer all day. I don't need MORE computer stuff to take up my time. And yet here I am, wanting to start a blog and really get into it and do something about it. I don't know what it is, exactly. But I have a few ideas.

My motivation to become a 'real' writer has skyrocketed lately. And by that, I mean a published author who makes money and has deadlines and works with agents and editors and whatnot to get his books out to as many people as possible. It went from being a dream to a passion. Writing is all I think about, even when I think about other things. It's scary how quickly it has absorbed my life.

I have other creative interests, though. I want to do so many things, and have so little time to do them. I want to paint. I want to draw. I want to compose music. I do none of these things because I need to make a career out of the writing first and then I'll go and do those other things. That's what's important, focusing on one thing and doing it and then going out and doing those other things.

Two of my other creative interests are getting the better of me, though. For a long time I've wanted to do a podcast, and I've also wanted to do a webcomic. I'm not doing either, though I may talk about them later. Instead, I have this. Why do I have this? That's really the point of this post: why am I blogging when I write novels? What's the point? There has to be a purpose.

Well, my purpose is multifold (I don't know how many and I'm not going back and fixing it later): first, I want to hopefully reach out to people through my writing. I'm doing that with the novels but that's on a big, long-term scale. This is more intimate and immediate. Nobody knows this exists, but maybe that'll change in time. Who knows?

Second, I want a vent for my artistic frustrations and thoughts. I get so many random ideas, and I become so full of exuberance, that I just have to share it sometimes. It helps to be able to put it all in one place and make it a testament to me. Not to mention it stops it from trying to invade my novels.

Third, I would like to provide a chronicle of what it is to be a struggling, working writer, just starting out on the long road to hopefully making it. I want this to include all the ups, all the downs, all the hard patches and good times and victories and defeats that I'm going to go through. More on my writing some other time, but maybe if I show this to people they will learn and understand and be compelled or something. Sharing the experience is what it's all about, right? People love to read about getting published, right? I'm going to be trying that impossible task myself, so why not have other people enjoy and empathize with me in time?

Fourth, if I ever do build up a successful novelling career, or a podcast, or a webcomic, I want some way to connect with people who are interested. I don't want to be the faceless, soulless man behind the curtain who offers up things from afar every once in a while. I want people to know where I'm coming from, to feel what it's like, to maybe share life with me while I share it with them. This is my public forum, I hope, in a way that my novels shouldn't be (they're much more abstract and deep) my podcast wouldn't be (if I ever do it, it'll be alternatively whiney and random) and my webcomic would never dream of doing (the webcomic could be summed up with the word 'whimsy').

Fifth, since I'm not doing the podcast for at least a year and the webcomic for at least two, this lets me get out there and share RIGHT NOW in a way that's meaningful. I can write, I can write to people, and I can reach out and touch them with my stories and thoughts and whatnot, and maybe in time they'll start responding to me.

Sixth, final but not last in my thoughts, I'm a very lazy person. But the more scrutiny I invite into my life--the more goals I set for myself where people can see them and they can pressure me to follow them--the more likely I am to keep to them. If I say I'll blog regularly, and I get some readers, I'll blog regularly. If I say I'll keep to a wordcount goal each week, and I have someone to keep a watch on it, I will make that wordcount goal come hell or high water. So eventually, if this ever gets out into the world at large, I will gain a lot from this on a bunch of levels.

That's all for now, I think. I'm terrible with formats and whatnot and everything, but I really want this site to look nice, so I might be fiddling with layouts and formatting on and off for the next forever. I have a friend who does abstract photography who I might be able to convince to let me use some of his photos (out of the goodness of his heart) to help prettify my journal. He'd get a permanent nod, too, so it's all good. =D

We'll see. I want to make it look pwn. I want it to be me. I want an awesome graphic on the top that is a huge stage with lights pouring down and a silhouette of a lone figure standing there. And then the rest to be black. And then the title of the blog to be in white script in the blackness. Though, I don't think I want to blog to be black, so I'll have to put some sort of fancy border around it. I dunno yet. I might be able to smooze some friends, and if not I'll just have to learn how to do it myself (as painful as that sounds).

Tomorrow's topic: NaNoWriMo and the awesomeness that was my first frantic November experience.

And so it begins, I hope

Salutations and whatnot! This is my first post on this new blog. And this is my first blog, so I'll make all the 'new blogger' mistakes, whatever those are. I don't read blogs, so I don't know. But I assume, like everything, there are new mistakes. So I'll just start and say a bit about myself, and we'll call this our nice little intro.

I've written before. I mean, published online. I have a livejournal which I've had forever. Since paid accounts were the norm and free accounts didn't exist without special codes. But that's not the same thing. This is more official. This is the public face of an aspiring novelist, even if I want it to be personal and whimsical and all the other lovely things that it could be.

I am an aspiring novelist. A working novelist. No, I don't get paid yet. I haven't been published yet. I haven't even started looking for an agent yet. In fact, I haven't edited a single novel. That comes soon, but not right now.

I'm not your 'I want to be a writer but I haven't written anything' novelist, either. I've written two full novels, and working on my third (a project I have done for NaNoWriMo [] that I'm still wrapping up even if I won NaNo for 2007). I might as well let you know what they are, because I'll be referring to them by name or abbreviation probably ALL OF THE TIME.

My first novel, a four year affair that now stretches a very messy 200,000 words is The Margot's Quest for the Sun, usually shortened to Margot. Great epic fantasy sort of stuff.
My second novel, a svelte 100,000 words, is Marton Syan, usually called MS.
And this current one is my NaNo novel, currently at 62000 words, called Ways to Commit Suicide When You're Bored (or Ways to Commit or WTC depending on the day)

As soon as WTC is done, I will probably A) begin editing MS for a March 1st deadline to get it to my first readers and B) start a new manuscript.

The goal is to be looking for agents by fall of 2008. That's a good goal, very achievable if I don't screw around. This blog will help archive my efforts editing for the first time, though first I'll be ranting about my novel as I streak into the climax and the finish. Anybody who reads this, if I give myself a goal and don't finish it, feel free to blast me and tell me to get on with it. Encouragement makes me happy, and it makes me write when I don't want to.

That's enough for now. I am at work, more on that some other time, and while this helps pass the time I don't want my intro to be giant wall-o-text. There will be plenty of time for that later. Plenty, plenty of time. Bwahahah!