NaNoWriMo 2011

I participated in and ‘won’ NaNoWrimo 2011.

I can now attest that writing 50,000 words in four weeks does interesting things to the human mind. I’m not sure if I’ll do it again next year because of how my brain was processing things near the end, but it was definitely an experience.

I’ve twice attempted to participate in the past, and twice I failed to make it past the first week.

The first time, I was going to redo the novel I tried to write in high school, but I was still in college at the time, on the semester system, with professors who expected close-to-length rough drafts either just before or after Thanksgiving Break. I managed to write under 500 words the next day, failed to have the time for two days after that, and then just admitted to myself that it simply was not going to be possible that year. I was trying to write longhand in a five-subject notebook.

The second time was last year. Unfortunately for me, the concept I wanted to play with got to the mental point I couldn’t hold off any longer a few days before Halloween. I managed to get out 10,000 words or so, and then spent the rest of the month working on editing the book I’m currently trying to get an agent for. The project that November was intended to be a sequel to the novel I’m currently sending out queries for. That time I had learned from a previous mistake and switched to single subject notebooks that were much easier to carry around. Even though what I managed to write overflowed into a second notebook, that didn’t matter much since part of the concept of NaNoWriMo is not spending all of one’s time referencing back.

This year, I had planned to expand some mystery story concepts I have been mulling over into one connected novel-length narrative. That fell through on Halloween. There’s a single scene – really just an image – I’ve had in my mind for years from a vampire story, and suddenly I started piecing together just what kind of a world would have to exist for that scene to take place.

I did some very strange Googling this November and it was probably the first month in my entire life where reading TV Tropes actually made me more productive instead of less.

I only used the notebooks when I didn’t have computer access. For the computer-aided writing, I used FocusWriter when I didn’t have Internet access and played around with the new web application Yarny when I did have Internet access.  Eventually the project size grew unwieldy and I transferred the Yarny export (this was before they offered formatting beyond plain text) into yWriter5. I’ve been using yWriter off and on in various forms since it was in Version 1; the Spacejock Software wiki claims that version was never publicly released but I still have the installer on a computer backup from back in 2002-2003, so it was indeed available for public download. And unwieldy to use, something that was fixed in the complete restructure between it and yWriter2. One thing I’ve always liked since yWriter2 is how easy importing external projects is after doing a bit of pre-formatting, and the import from Yarny went about as smoothly as any of the imports ever have in the past.

And now I’m playing with a Scrivener For Windows trial in anticipation of using the NaNoWriMo winner’s discount code soon (yes, the codes have already been released).

One fun side benefit is that since I finally have the concept out of my head, I feel a lot freer about reading existing vampire novels now that the basic ground rules of that universe have been set down in text – and since I ended up with co-evolved vampires instead of supernatural vampires, the chance of accidentally lifting something besides general public domain vampire lore is pretty much down to nothing now. My previous exposure to the vampire genre was the book Dracula, the original anime Hellsing, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein. Very early in December, I discovered the odd-numbered volumes in Susan Sizemore’s Laws Of The Blood series on a discount rack and I’ve found them to be a rather enjoyable read. Each focuses on a different set of characters within the same general time frame, so not having access to two of the five books honestly didn’t keep me from being able to understand what was going on.

And no, I still have not watched, read, or listened to the audiobook of Twilight.

So, that was my November, and I do apologize for the absence. The next post will be about December.

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