On this day last year, I was coming towards the end of book ten – a book of short horror stories in honour of Halloween – and I was gearing up to attempt a piece of literary fiction (fnar) for NaNoWriMo. Where has the time gone?


Time visual for you, there.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the short story book was the fact those individual stories came a lot closer to being finished than any of the previous 9. The scale of a short story is obviously a lot smaller, and when you’ve been working through narrative arcs with several strands it’s almost relaxing to do something shorter. You can go back over a 2000 word tale and edit it over the space of a couple of days in a way you really can’t with a 50,000 word manuscript. Perhaps its no coincidence that 12 months later I find myself putting together another book of short stories.

Still, I do yearn for the excitement of creating something longer from scratch again. In 2012 I have mostly been editing, interviewing and doing shorter stories. I started a new project, which is about 15,000 in, but I don’t think it will exceed 30,000 in the end (it is for kids, so that’s not as short as it sounds).

I had originally thought of using NaNoWriMo to bash out a draft of book 13, the book about 12 books in 12 months. But non fiction is a different beast than fiction. You can’t really take days in the middle where you just start typing and see what happens when you’re specifically writing about stuff that did happen. Well you can, but I don’t feel like that is the best strategy for me.

There’s also the fact that one key piece of advice from the founders of NaNoWriMo is ‘don’t go in there with an existing project.’

This is because the longer you’ve been working on something, the harder it is to let go of small details. The more invested you are, the easier it is to get tongue tied trying to get across exactly what you want to say. At which point you find yourself doing anything other than write because it has become too much of an uphill struggle.

On that logic, it seems taking book 13 in there would be asking for trouble. But I want to have made a decent start on it before the end of the year, so do I just work on it while everyone else is fictioning and not officially sign in for NaNo this year?

Thing is I quite fancy the idea of 30 days of reckless writing of something new. And y’know, what if I commit to non fiction then get all resentful of the fun everyone else is having with new characters and adventures?

There again, there comes a time where you have to stop scribbling and do something properly – actually finish a proper draft. As I’ve said before that is the hard part, to me, the shaping of what I’ve got already into something special (rather than the ramblings of someone that stayed up all night and had no idea what they were typing between 1 and 9am..).

What I’m saying is, here I am again on my own… at the cloven hooves of the eternal dilemma. To NaNo or not to NaNo? Last year I swapped my monthly genres to do it (because I’m not Alan Moore – there was no way I was writing a 50k graphic novel in a month, bearing in mind I was drawing it too).

So internet – what am I going to do this time?