It has been brought to my attention I’ve been casually mentioning NaNoWriMo all over the place for most of the year, but some readers might not have the faintest idea what I’m referring to. Read on for an explanation.
Writing short stories is a very different experience to novelling.
The main issue is that in an ideal world a short is self contained – you can’t have too many threads because it gets confusing. Over the past 9 months I’ve got used to bashing out big, sprawling narratives that rabbit on and keep introducing new characters all over the place, safe in the knowledge I can rescue the salient points when editing time cometh.
However, I’m finding I can’t hide behind hazy future editing time when writing a short story. Obviously I can point out in a pathetic sort of way that it’s a first draft and it will change a bit in the edit, but if the whole notion is crap I can’t junk one bit and expand a subplot. There aren’t any.
Which leads me to a confession: so far this month, I’ve been going back and editing things. I can’t help it. I physically can’t bash out a wee story at 1.5k and move on – I feel compelled to re-read and change bits.
In my defense, I haven’t given up on anything and I’m mainly only changing phrasing here and there. The most I’ve deleted completely is a paragraph. But technically it’s against the NaNoWriMo keep on keepin’ on spirit of the project, so I thought I should come clean. After all, when the trust is gone what do we have?
Speaking of NaNo, it has occurred to me that if I’m drawing a graphic novel (or more likely a comic) in November I almost certainly won’t be coming up with 50k of text to go with it. I haven’t decided on a story yet, and drawing a page takes considerably longer than writing one. So what should I do? Write out the storyboard and dialogue and leave the drawings for some other time? Or sit NaNo out this year? Answers on a postcard, please. Or in the comment box, which is easier and doesn’t cost anything.
There’s a lot of hype around self publishing at the moment, related at least in part to John Locke (an American author, not to be confused with the father of liberalism or the bald sociopath in Lost) becoming the first self-published author to sell a million e-books for the Kindle. He’s put 9 titles out, the latest of which is How I Sold 1 million e-books in 5 months. A cynical man, then…
If the internet is any judge, people have mixed feelings on self publishing. This is because there’s a perception of it as a vanity project, as you’ve probably heard. I’m not sure who specifically thinks that, but I’ve read several blog posts assuring me most people do, and explaining why they are wrong. What a bold premise…
Which part of the writing process (condensed as it is into such a short period) do you find the hardest? The editing? Re-writing?
Because the writing process is condensed into such a short period with this project, editing and re-writing don’t actually get a look in. Not yet, anyway. The plan was to leave all the drafts for a minimum of 3 months before going back to look over them, but so far I haven’t had the time to go back and start editing any. The hardest part of the writing process with this is therefore the purely practical aspect of fitting in writing time – when I sit down and do it, it’s a race against time to get the words out there so I just write and write, even if some of it’s nonsense. These first drafts are littered with asides like “she said, by way of exposition,” which all add to the word count! But generally speaking I think editing and re-writing are much harder work.
I’ve had a lot of support from other people though, especially on Twitter. The general consensus seems to be that it’s a slightly mad thing to do, but in a good way!
For those interested in the more practical aspects of this project, such as when you will get to read a finished version of one of these books, I say this:
Because book 13 is going to be partly about the adventures of trying to get published, I suspect I shouldn’t put full manuscripts online until they have been definitively ignored/rejected by… oh, I don’t know, 30 publishers? After all, who is going to publish something you can already download as a free PDF? We’ve all seen enough of The Apprentice / Dragon’s Den to know this does not make good business sense.
Furthermore, I would like the opportunity to go back over them all, so that what is eventually available in its entirety for you to read online is something faintly more polished than a first draft. But, the editing process can be a long and harrowing one. Who knows what my tired brain will make of Caligula’s blog when I go back over it after writing eleven books in totally different fields? So at the moment, I can’t really get a handle on how long that’s going to take.
For debut author Julia Crouch, who, like me, found her inspiration in NaNoWriMo, there was a gap of over two years between bashing out that first draft (which she did in November 2008) and getting it published (which will happen in March this year). You can read an interview with her on the subject here.
What I’m saying is, I don’t yet have a definitive date for you to be able to read any of the 12 books. Although I may yet decide to email people first drafts as part of some sort of competition scenario, or reward for getting involved.