Sunday, December 08, 2013

Sailing Venus: NaNoWriMo post-mortem

So, this grand experiment I participated in this year, this NaNoWriMo, has come and gone. After careful consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I suck at it.

With November coming to a close a full week ago, my total word count came in at just a shade above 4,000 words. That's a decent length for a short story, but far short of the NaNoWriMo goal of 50,000 words (which is itself somewhat short of novel length, traditionally 60,000 words or more). November simply wasn't a good month for me. Apart from the Thanksgiving holiday and associated travel, I had all manner of challenges present themselves to me this month. I had some medical issues to take care of, there was the funeral for a relative I got to be pall bearer for, family issues and a host of other little things that added up to exhaustion--both emotional and physical. Some nights it was all I could do to crawl into bed at 10 p.m., which is traditionally when my writing time begins. Couple that with the fact that I am by no means a fast writer, and this endeavor was clearly doomed from the start.

I never intended to write 50,000 words. I think I've written 2,500-plus words in one day exactly once in my life. My goal was the still-ambitious (for me) 30,000 word mark, which would've demanded an average of 1,000 words a day. That's doable, but would demand more hours in a day than I can normally spare. I ended up averaging a modest 500 words a day. Divide my 4,000-word total by that rate and you'll see the ugly truth: out of 30 days in November, I actually wrote productively on just eight of them.

The good news is that I intended NaNoWriMo to simply kickstart Sailing Venus, and this is has. I completed the first chapter and part of the second. I've outlined the entire novel, something I've never done before, and I continue to work on it. Hopefully, without any major headwinds like I experienced in November, I can have the first draft wrapped up sometime this summer. I wouldn't complain about that at all. And now, just to show that I am doing real, for-true writing on this story, I offer the following worldbuilding snippet:

The disembarking station curved around the berth, an unremarkable seamed white wall and slate gray carpet. Ages before, several mobile columns of ivy had been positioned at aesthetic intervals to break up the functional monotony of the room. Through neglect, all the ivy had died, leaving the bare, scalloped columns, now oddly threatening without vegetation to soften their hard edges.

To the left of the rightmost column, the large airlock hatch scissored open.

Now Playing: Pink Floyd Oakland 1977
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