PaNoWri2Mo PaNoWri2Mo PaNoWri2Mo

Hiya! Sorry about that. Yeah, I know the blog’s gone kind of quiet lately. Since Christmas morning, in fact, right. I’ve been, um, distracted. Well, not distracted – I think “preoccupied” is a better word. But I can explain.

You know how I always complain about not being able to write anything long form? How I seem to think in 900 word impressionistic blobs? I’ve always envied those folks who were able to sustain a thought for the length of a novel. And every time November came around, I’d say “This is it – this is the year I’m going for NaNoWriMo!” And about half past November, I’d realize that I’d not ever actually started writing anything, and make wishful promises about next year.

Well, a funny thing happened at the end of December. I challenged another writer I knew (she will, ahem, remain nameless) to write a short story, given only a title (“A Brief History of Time Travel”) and a first line (“Okay, so it’s… complicated.” – a riff off of our favorite Dr. Who episode). Early January, I started harassing her about not making progress on it, and upped the challenge into a competition: *I’d* also write my own version of the story, and we’d compare when we were done. It was a calculated bet – I knew she couldn’t pass up another opportunity to kick my literary butt.

So I launched in, taunting her with daily word counts. Next thing I knew, I was up to 6,000 words, and I hadn’t actually settled yet on what was going to happen in the story. Wasn’t looking so “brief” any more. The second week of January, when MS Word told me I was at 10,000 words, I knew I had crossed the Rubicon. I pulled out my unloved copy of “No Plot, No Problem” (Chris Baty’s NaNoWriMo bible), and nailed down my own set of rules.

  1. I would write at least 1,000 words each day on this story.
  2. They would be complete crap. It didn’t matter. 
  3. I would silence my inner editor, I would not second guess myself and edit anything I had written before. If by some fluke of finger-keyboard contact, I had my protagonist materialize at a baby shower wearing top hat and a purple emu, so be it. I would go forward making the plot conform to the event. (Don’t worry, he didn’t) 
  4. I would not stop until I had crossed the 50,000 word mark – Baty’s nominal threshold for successfully finishing NaNoWriMo. 
  5. Ready? Go! 

Okay, so now it’s 48 days later. Late last night, while Devon and the kids were glaring at me for not turning off the damned light, I hit a word count of 51,232 words, the last two of which were “The End”. I’m done.

I’d actually crossed 50,000 a few hours earlier, as the plane (the real plane I was riding in, not the one in the story) was coming in for landing in Florida, but I had an unresolved purple emu issue to deal with, and had to spend another 1230 words sorting it out. But I did and it is. Whew. PaNoWri2Mo 2012 is complete, and there won’t be a 2013 edition.

Wait – now, before you ask: No. No, you can’t read it. Remember Rule #2? It’s crap – it’s a really really really bad story and if I even let my inner editor out of the box to go back and try to fix it, he’s going to have a nervous breakdown of epic proportions. So no – you can’t read it. Really. No one gets to read it. Ever. Not even the unnamed author who I originally taunted with the challenge (unless, perhaps, she buckles under and writes her own version of the challenge. In that case, I guess I’d have to let her read it, right?) (Ouch, I can feel the angry daggers from here).

Really – trust me: it’s a crappy bunch of writing. But the good news, for all of us, is that it’s done. And in the spirit of Bre Pettis’ “Done Manifesto”: done is the engine of more. Which means I can finally, finally start writing about other stuff again. Which is good, because there’s a lot of stuff happening. I’ll tell you more soon – I promise.

(In unrelated news, the little counter in the MS Word doc I use to draft my Roadtrip posts tells me that I’ve just crossed 50,000 words since I’d opened this current scratch document, back in Pittsburgh last year. I may be going to Pittsburgh on Monday. Not sure yet, but that’s another story)

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