Friday, September 28, 2007

How nanowrimo got me again.

Warning: you are being warned.

I should be writing an essay, I should be reading, I should be drinking hot chocolate, but I'm not. What am I doing? Fidgeting. But I have a story, a good story and I want to tell this story. Henceforth I shall forgo cocoa drinking.

Last year around this time I was on a strange old site called avid gamers, which is blue and green. Not tree-green and sky-blue mind you, but still blue and green. My attempt to start a writers group had been thwarted through lack of interest and I was at a loss for my favourite hobby of designing role playing websites and than becoming bored of them, and then I found nanowrimo. My sister had told me about it, but I don't like writing competitions. Competitions make me sad and sour when I lose, and I doubted I could win one with a novel. But soon I understood the full glory of nanowrimo. A link was posted on avid gamers, the writer was discussing what they intended to write for nano (as it is called for short). I was shocked to learn they intended to enter this competition with a novel about vampires, and another intended to write fanfiction. Hardly suitable for a Japanese writing competition (as I assumed it must be). But I was curious. I followed the link; I started reading; by the sixth rule I was doomed. I tried to sign up but it wasn't October yet. I read all the content on the site. I stalked to old forums. I had an idea by that time and it kept growing and growing. I started learning and reading and as soon as I could sign up I did.

I was, of course, rather foolish. Being well informed by this time I didn't need to ask any questions, yet I was still missing interaction and wanted to talk to someone. Making the mistake of admitting this acquired me the only harsh criticism I ever experienced on the site. Once I found my place (the fantasy forum of course) I went happily off to talk about the proper protocol of knights, the importance of fairies, and how one might examine and implement magic into a society. Well, not all those things all first, but I have discussed all three; the fantasy forum is one of the most fun on the web I have yet to find. These people are intelligent, interesting, ready to debate, AND interested in fantasy. How much better can one get?

I started writing at midnight. By the time I went to bed I was nearly to my word count for the first day, but I kept writing. Getting a head start is good in case you lose it. I kept getting them and I kept keeping them. The requirement is around 1666 words per day to reach 50,000 by the end of the month. I wrote around 2400 and reached 70,000. I was bloody proud of myself. I kept expecting to fall flat on my face, but I didn't. I just kept going, and having a novel in progress is one of the most wonderful things I have ever experienced.

So I finished, won, and gained a great deal from it despite the fact that my prize was a cup of hot cocoa. Though there were some good pieces and I discovered an interesting world through my writing (not to mention becoming peculiarly knowledgeable on Persia) I did not find myself in possession of a whole salvageable novel. There are so many things that I learned from nanowrimo that taught me what I ought never to do again, integral parts of the novel which could not be removed. After some months of attempting to rectify the situation I gave up and started writing again. I learned a great deal from that attempt as well, and do believe I will take the beginning of the story as a cautionary tale, and borrow my darling air pirates (yes, it was that fantastic) for other stories.

But on the whole I found it to be too fast. If I had had more time I could have done something better, and since I knew what I was doing after my 'fix novel--oh wait--writers block--'ll quit--all better now' experience I decided that one nano-adventure was all I needed, that I was grateful for what I had learned, considered it invaluable, but would not be doing it again. This of course goes along with the fact that, being an extrovert, I was unable to retreat inside myself after I had finished in order to rebuild all those broken things and strange opinions I had gathered from nanowrimo. I over extended myself, and it was scary. That is the one place I could have used a mentor who was able to warn me what might happen. But I'm still fairly sane..or something of the sort, so I think it is okay after all.

So I was quite set, though I still frequented the fantasy forums to partake in the clever and exciting discussions, that I would not rejoin the ranks of nanoers in 2007. Unhappily I made the mistake of going to the nanowrimo website a few days ago. There was a note there about how the site would be shutting down until October to set up for the coming year. And I was caught. Just like last year, following that link. There it was. Bang. I doubt I can escape, not without more will-power than I have. And it is very hard to escape something when you cannot make any argument that cannot be defeated with “I'm just being lazy not to”. So I guess I will be going back again; hopefully I will be able to keep whole and sane during and after.

Two things must be noted that are here missed. First is that November is the last month of the fall semester, which means essays and midterms are given at the end and beginning respectively, but there is a nice reading break in November with helps a little. Second is that during my first nanowrimo an idea monster (far more violent than plot bunnies) attacked me as I was reading over the site information, it infested my brain and proceeded to build a nest in my thoughts. I have sent some of my brain tissue to the labs in a vain hope that they might find a cure for such rampant infestations in the future. This year I had an idea that I was in love with, and nano just happened to pop up at the right time. Now that I have written once I want to try again, but this time with something that in which I can have pride. Fantasy of course, but I am greatly convinced that a good fantasy transcends all other things, as it involves the mind and the world of the imagination most directly of all forms. Some consider being so closely involved as this to be a weakness, and I think they are quite right that it is a weakness. But it is a crippling and lifelong weakness, like any such thing, and should be honoured and not denied.

And so begins the tales of nanowrimo 2007.

I've been running through Google looking for people having discussions, trying to convince my friends and family to write, and above all writing to me a little less vocal about it than last year. I talk a great deal too much, hopefully I can keep most of it here.

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DEFINITIONS
Nanowrimo: national novel writing month. link
nanoer: a nanowrimo writer, best people in the word
nano: either the book or an abreviation of the abreviation
avid gamers: a hosting site commonly used for roleplaying and with a vibrant discussion community

Nano2006: “the flying ship.” involving a girl kidnapped by an accidentally summoned demon and sold to a group of air pirates.

Nano2007: Will be about either the fall of a hero or a girl named Percy who doesn't really visit Europe in a very small boat.

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