A Study in Insanity

*Sneaks in guiltily* All right, all right. I know I said I'd update during NaNo. I know this is horrendously late.

...I was too busy writing to write any blog posts!

As you may remember, my goal was to complete two novels, aiming for 50k on each one at least, for a total of 100k, and to have the first draft of each one DONE. To refresh your memory, these were:

1. The meta-story fantasy, which shall henceforth be referred to as Storyland, Novel 1, or NaNo11.
2. The SF about the cybernetic raven, which shall henceforth be referred to as Raven, or Novel 2.

To cut a long, meandering, rant-filled story short, I managed to win NaNo with Novel 1 at 50k, although the story is nowhere near complete. I am scrapping most of the words, although now I know with a lot more certainty what the plot will be.

Novel 2 tanked at 23k. Yes, I didn't even make it halfway. It got to the point where I just couldn't switch my attention between two novels, and I was behind on both. As Novel 1 was progressing faster, I decided to just focus on it.

Bottom line: I am never going to try and write two novels at the same time, in a month, again. That is, for a given value of never. Never say never, right? Who knows what heretofore unknown stimuli the future will hold? As far as I can see, however, from now on it'll be the good old fashioned aiming for 100k on just one story!

Oh, and on a completely unrelated writing note, some awesome person on the NaNo forums decided to create a drawing challenge similar to the NaNo ideal, for those who wanted to improve on their drawing. It's called 100 Days, 100 Drawings. The idea is that instead of spending forever working on one drawing that you never finish, you have to draw something new every day, and keep the momentum going. On the 101st day, you will redraw the thing that you did on the first day, and see if you improved.

My writing buddy M and I decided to do our own version together. The regular 100D2 was pretty much a  free-for-all, and the start date wasn't exactly convenient. M and I will be starting a little later, and we decided to have prompts, so we could compare what we each did. We have 80 prompts, where each of us came up with 40 of the ideas. We compiled the list, and then randomized it, and spaced the prompts out so that we'd do 4 prompts at a time, every 5th day being a 'free day,' for a total of 100 days. On day 101, we'll redraw what we did on Day 1. The challenge will start on December 26th, 2011, and end with Day 101 on April 4th, 2012. The first (and redrawn) prompt is, "Draw a detailed scene from your novel." That one would be comprehensive enough to cover all the little exercises like perspective, realism, proportions, etc.

So far I've been hosting images up on Dropbox, but for this particular challenge, I am getting an account at deviantArt and will post links up here as and when I get a chance.

Back to writing. I might have mentioned here that M and I are having a little weekly writing competition on the side. As it happens, it's hard to say who's winning, because we're both at different stages in the process. M is editing, whereas I'm still scribbling in every direction trying to finish Draft 1. Needless to say, while I have more word generating points, she completely kicked my butt to Pluto because she's completed her novel, so now I have no choice but to complete mine!


Those three dots signify the passage of time. In this case, it was about fifteen minutes. A lot of things can happen in fifteen minutes, including having a new insight into the depths of your own unpredictability. What I am about to tell you will show that the title of this post has practically been prophetic. Yes, I am undertaking new and exciting challenges during the coming year.

The following scenario has happened often enough that I can catalogue the exact states I go through, each and every time, so that from now on, all you have to do is just plug in the name of the appropriate challenge.

1. I browse the internet, and find a reference to [Over the top Writing Challenge, henceforth referred to as Challenge].
Me: "What's this?" *click* "Mind. Blown. This is nuts. Insane! I would never do anything this crazy!"
2. A few weeks/months pass. Now that I know what [Challenge] is, I find references to [Challenge] on the NaNo site and learn more.
Me: "Intriguing. Everyone who is doing this has my respect, but they are all stark raving mad. I would never do this."
3. A few weeks/months pass. Someone I know (relative, friend, whoever) tells me, I am doing [Challenge!]
Me: "You are certifiably insane. Congratulations. I would never do that in a million years."
4. Ten minutes later:
Me: "...Well, if they can do it..."
Another minute later:
Me: "...It would greatly enhance my productivity."
Another minute later:
"...The worst I can do is fail."
One minute later: "Account created!"
5. I write a blog post explaining why the new insane [Challenge] is not, in fact, insane, and why I absolutely must do it, and why I just can't wait for [Challenge] to start!

So, what have I gotten myself into this time?

Milwordy, in a word. Or, should I say, a million? The object of the challenge is to write a million words in a year. I will start on January 1st, 2012. Ha, and that's a leap year, so there's an extra day of writing! It works out to approximately 2800 words per day.

I know your brains are exploding. Before you tell me that I have really lost it this time, let me just say...I am not exactly aiming at a million words. That would undoubtedly be awesome, but also, given my track record, unrealistic. What I really want is just the structure, and the daily word count goal, and the sense of community that wrimos give, for the short term. Wrimos are awesome in that way, but the fact remains that they are just too short for me. At the end of a month, I have yet another half-finished draft that I toss on the virtual compost heap and almost never touch again. It's the length of the challenge that I like.

I. will. write. every. day.

Everything counts. Novels, short stories, whatever. This will give me a chance to explore some of the ideas that I left by the roadside the last year or so, and to try some new genres. My goals are simple. I just want to finish something I start. To that end, I wish to have a completed first draft of Novel 1 by the end of March 2012, and the whole thing edited and finished by my 25th birthday, in September.

I will probably only hit 250k, or maybe even 500k, if I do a NaNo-level word count daily, but even that is worth it.

I really cannot allow myself to think of myself as a writer until I can admit that I have actually written a book.

I will conquer the unfinished draft.

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