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IT'S OVER!03:10 AM -- Thu December 1, 2011

50,077 Words! I win Nanowrimo!*

* I wrote a bunch of unrelated stories, many unfinished, which is not valid Nanowrimo success. But for my own self, I say I won. I just didn't punch it in at the official site since it wasn't legal.

Look at that! The green line is how many words I should've had on each day, and the red line is how many I did. As you can see, I started out just slightly ahead of the game, but that evaporated very quickly. Then as Thanksgiving approached, I fell further and further behind. I had two days in there where I wrote zero words because there was so much else going on. But check out the very end there! Steep steep line! On the last 4 days of November I wrote 3,000, 4,500, 4,500, and 3,500 words respectively. Monster comeback, very painful.

Why do you care about all this? You don't! But since I pulled it off, I get to shout about it anyway! Chew on that. Because I'm still buzzing with the fresh sweaty juices of victory (see that descriptive writing skill I developed this month? Not gross at all), I'll also detail what I wrote, just for my my own amusement. To answer a lot of comments on the previous entry, no, you won't get to read these. First drafts are never for public consumption, and with good reason. You wouldn't enjoy it, and you'd stop before you got very far anyway, so you're not missing out. Any stories I get beyond the first draft stage I may be willing (or interested even, for critique) to have people read them, but nothing I wrote this month is Hamumu-appropriate, so that would have to be handled outside of the confines of this family-safe site. I like swear words.

So, here's what I wrote, in chronological order as best I can remember... First: Antarctica, a very unfinished (maybe half done) short story about scientists working in Antarctica and of course, as usually happens, they're attacked by an alien presence. Or possibly just visited by one, I don't know because it never got to the actual attack part.

In Between, an also very unfinished story about a kid who can walk through mirrors into a void and then come back through any other mirror in the world. That's a daydream power I thought about a lot in my teenaged years and decided I'd try to put it in a story (it's not really an especially great power, but it has interesting and complex implications, which is why I thought about it a lot. As a game designer, I find playing with rulesets very interesting).

Settling Up, a finished story! This one started with no idea at all of what I was gonna write, I just started writing and it turned out to make sort of sense, and it tells the story of a guy woken up in the night by something horrible sounding coming up the stairs. I don't know if it's any good, I haven't gone back to read it, and I'm scared to (not because it's scary, but because it's probably bad).

House Of Doors, another very unfinished story about a guy who buys a house that is absolutely jam-packed with doors. It has doors that lead to closets, only those closets have doors on all the other walls too, like the house is just one big grid of teeny tiny rooms. I didn't get to the part explaining why it was like that (I'm not sure), or why he got obsessively interested by all these doors, or the part where eventually (it had to happen, right?) something supernatural involving the doors occurs. A lot of times I come up with "story ideas" only they're just setups, not actual storylines, and this is one I've had in my head for a while. Those doors definitely have to lead somewhere other than just into the house... right?

Fantasy Novel, a maybe half-finished fantasy novel! This is what I spent about two thirds of the month working on. It features a gunslinger, a "wind dancer" (that's of course somebody who has magical powers over the wind), and what might pass for a rogue, and they have to deal with a witch's evil plot. Or they will eventually. I wrote it right up to about the point where they learn of the plot. But you'd be surprised how much stuff takes place before that! I kind of like the plot, I think, if it ends up going somewhere. Then I threw in another day of writing just in short form the events that would take place in the rest of the book, or at least a long way further. Then I quit. I feel like it had some interesting and original ideas, but I got bogged down just trying to write it, and it most likely reads very badly. Novel writing is definitely much more daunting than short stories.

On Thanksgiving, I wrote a complete story in one very quick sitting! It's a short-short, entitled Thanksgiving. It's better left as a surprise to the reader, seeing as how it's so short and there's a twist or two, but it's basically a list of things the narrator is thankful for. It's very dark. And boy did it just pour out of me! I'm an awful person!

Rite Of Spring, another finished story! This is actually based on the song of the same name by Angels and Airwaves, but extremely loosely. I just listened to it and started writing. It's a sci-fi story about a guy who runs a simulator of the world, where he can watch different variations of history. There's really not much story to it, it will be interesting to see what my Special Reader says about it. I'm not even sure it actually has an ending, it's just kind of odd.

True Love, a finished story! I wrote this one after discussing the idea with my wife on our drive back from Thanksgiving. It's a rather nasty idea (I don't write happy stories), and again, I don't want to spoil what that idea is, so I'll just say that at the start, it's about a guy who's really interested in a girl, but he doesn't have the guts to talk to her.

Night Driving, another finished one! The end part of the month was chock-full of nicely finished tales. Well, finished tales. This one was also from a discussion with my wife while driving - you might guess we were driving at night, and you'd be right. I just wanted to describe what driving at night looks like, so I did, but I needed a story around it, so the driver ends up hitting somebody. Problems ensue. And part of the fun of writing is that the problems weren't what I thought they'd be when I started. It ends up going to a very different place than I had ever imagined, which happens to some degree with every story. So writing a story is almost like reading one - you never know what's going to happen.

Purgatorio, finished again! This is actually a pretty long short story, written over two of those very long writing days at the end of the month. It's about a guy who's murdered, and he ends up in Purgatorio, which is a very bureaucratic afterlife, that offers you choices about where you want to go next.

The Inquisitor, a finished story! I started this at the beginning of the month, and came back to it today to wrap it up on my final writing day, because I liked the feel of it. A straightforward horror tale, perhaps vaguely (I wish) in the Lovecraftian arena, it's the story of a weird isolated town which an Inquisitor is visiting because the government for which he works heard the town didn't have a church (that's a no-no according to The Culture). You know it's never a good idea for an outsider to visit a weird little town.

And when I finished that story but still had 500 words left to write, I threw together the beginning of a story I just called Teenage Angst. I don't even know what it would be about if finished, so far it's just a kid laying on his bed, listening to music as he thinks about how much he hates the bullies at his school.

So that's it. On the one hand, I feel like I copped out by not doing a novel all month. There's no question in my mind that the real Nanowrimo challenge, of writing a single continuous novel, is far harder and a whole different type of challenge than writing 50,000 words of stories. But on the other hand, now that I've written all these stories, I have something I can use. I will be able to turn some of these stories into something people will read and enjoy (and maybe pay me for? Maybe?). If I had just written a novel, it'd be trash. I know that from the partial novel I did this month, as well as the horrible attempts I've made in previous Nanowrimos (I won once legitimately, with something that I later found and tried to read, and it was absolute garbage, not even worth trying to rewrite. I also failed another year, with about a half-finished garbage novel). So I feel good about what I did, and I think I really improved my writing abilities. Maybe. I guess we'll see. The hardest thing is definitely forcing yourself to go from a piece of writing to a finished work that actually has an ending, and by making all these stories, I had to do that a dozen times over. The endings are clearly the weakest parts of what I wrote in every case, but just the fact that they (sometimes) have endings feels like a victory to me.

In other news, Sol Hunt won yesterday, legitimately. A single 50,000 word novel, about a teacher's first year of teaching! Bigger congrats to her for beating me in two ways. And big cheater for writing exactly what she knows. I would've never finished if she hadn't kept pushing me onward, so yay to her there too.

Also, we watched no TV for the entire month, except when we were at my sister's for Thanksgiving, and that wasn't our fault. So that's another fantabulous victory for us! Tomorrow, we are totally watching Misfits.
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