06 October 2010

The NaNoWriMo plan is different this year

I have to make two explanations about two upcoming annual events that are usually a key part of my life every year. This year they are going to be treated a bit differently. I’ll discuss the first now, the second on a later post. (Which means I’ll get more posts up this month and make my blog look a bit busier.)

First . . . I am participating in National Novel Writing Month this year, as I did in 2008 and 2009—but with some slight alterations.

(If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, you can read my very long post on it here, and you can always explore the event’s website.)

Earlier this year, I had started to make tentative plans about what I wanted to write for my 2010 novel, and immediately started to swap around ideas—settling on one novel concept for certain, then changing it next month. However, as September started, I had apparently narrowed it down and had “the one.” It still could have changed, as happened last year when Turn over the Moon arose with only ten days left before the start of November, but I felt mostly confident that I wanted to try this idea.

Now, my writing goals have made an abrupt shift—as this post will explain—and I decided I needed to keep November a bit more “open” and not locked into the completion of a new novel.

But I still wanted to take part in the event, and wanted to keep my writing fires going. They’ve burned all year hotter than they ever have before, and the thought of not writing enormous amounts of new fiction during November was repulsive to me. November is a month that badly needs this kind of entertainment, since it’s low on the totem pole of my favorite months. (The main reason is that it follows October, and how in the universe can you beat October? November tries desperately with football and a turkey feast, but it’s really just “The Thing between October and End of Year Celebrations.” Okay . . . Twilight Zone marathons. Do any stations still do those on Thanksgiving?)

I decided therefore to become a “NaNo Rebel,” as the website calls them, and write 50,000 words of something other than a novel during November. I will instead assay to write at least 50,000 words of complete short stories between November 1st and November 30th. The short stories will not be connected (unless more than one takes place in Ahn-Tarqa, which will be the only link between them) and will probably be in variety of speculative fiction genres with different tones, tenses, and POV.

There’s two reasons I picked the Short Story Revue as my NaNoWriMo alternative. The first is that, if necessary, I can quickly drop writing the short stories and turn to editorial task that may need my attention. Dropping a novel mid-way usually spells D-E-A-T-H for the novel—I need constant momentum. Losing a single short story is not so bad. I can scrap the original pages and starting writing it anew

The second reason is that I would like to have more practice with the short story form. I’m still more comfortable with the novel form than the short form, and I would like to get some practice on my short game. A good store of short stories to send to various magazines is something I could use alongside my novels. I’ve written a lot of short stories this year so far, and here’s a chance to finally plunge into many o the ideas I’ve held back on until now. NaNoWriMo will help with the necessary momentum.

One of the short stories will actually be a novella, perhaps around 20,000 words, that I’ve wanted to write for over a year. Novellas are a tough sell in the writing marketplace, but in this I simply have to write this story. (And I have some marketing ideas for it as well.)

You’ll hear much more as November starts and the Short Story Slaughter begins.

Next time, I’ll make my excuses about my customary Halloween celebrations. (Short version: no costume this year, but there are positive reasons for this omission.)