The NaNoWriMo Saga: Week 1

I attempted NaNoWriMo last year and failed horribly at it, giving up after just 3000 words. I didn’t like my plot, I didn’t have a plan, I didn’t even really like my characters. I was writing a prequel to the book I really wanted to write, the one that I’ve been kicking around in my head for years (which I’ve never actually tried to write but didn’t want to “waste” on NaNo).

I decided at the last minute to do NaNo this year, inspired mostly by the determination of my RP buddy that I spend most of the year writing with. Without an idea for a project, I decided to give my half of the aforementioned book a shot. At least I had an outline for that, and an idea of who the characters are. In any case, it couldn’t really go worse than last year, when I gave up without really trying.

I’ve been doing well enough this year. Usually I’ve been hitting my 2000 word goal for each day, though Thursday and Friday I faltered, stalling around 12000 words. Friday I was so frustrated that I ended up closing my Nano document and went and wrote 4000 words of a RP story set in a game world instead. This is totally frustrating. Why is it that this other story came without any sort of effort on my part, but The Book is something I struggle with every night? Is it because my story isn’t very good? Is it because I suck at world building and will be forever delegated to writing stories in worlds that have already been created for me? Is it because I just suck at writing in general?

Went for a hike yesterday, hashed out some plot in my head while alternately obsessing about food sources in a struggling boreal forest setting. Got hung up on what the hell my people could be wearing without things like cotton or wool available to them and with limited animals for making leather. Then came across a sign in the park I was hiking in that explained that oak bark used to be a major export of the park because it was sold to tanners who used it to make leather. Was devastated to think that my people can’t even have leather clothes because there aren’t enough trees to go around to supply bark to tan the leather. Realized I know nothing about how leather is made or about the ecology of boreal forests or how people could possibility support a community of hundreds of people with limited resources. Felt incredible despair, wondered why I thought I could ever write this book because apparently I know just enough to realize that my science isn’t working, but not enough to know how to make it work.

Got home and started writing, upped my word count to 19168, and I’m reasonably happy with all of it. So….I guess something in there worked for me!

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Down the Writing Rabbit Hole

I want to be an author.

I write. A lot. But I don’t write things for anyone other than myself and one or two other people to see. Even just sharing  a silly fairy tale that’s inspired by a video game was not exactly easy for me. I want to write a book someday, and I have an idea for one, but like so many other people, I don’t have much to show for it, other than a thousand pages of writing that I don’t want to share with anyone.

This isn’t a post complaining about writing though. This is a post about one of my favorite side effects of writing, which are the rabbit holes I fall into as I’m trying to write. One minute I’m trying to describe how something smells and then two hours later I’m reading about how turpentine is made. And that’s one of the more normal things that I’ve randomly started researching because of writing. I should keep a journal of all the things I’ve read about because I bet there’s some good inspiration there. Off the top of my head I can remember reading about:

  • Voodoo
  • old names for illnesses and diseases (For example, phnemonia being called lung fever)
  • eleuthero
  • the can-can dance
  • snake oil
  • sled dogs
  • ice ages
  • chiengora (dog fur wool)
  • Montreal
  • horses
  • falconry
  • deer
  • holistic medicine
  • Iceland
  • biodomes
  • birds native to China
  • replacement knee surgery

Seriously, looking at that list makes me feel crazy. And that’s just a small sampling of all the crap I’ve read about, just to write stories that are intended for no one but myself! This is probably part of why I haven’t started that book I want to write yet. I’m overwhelmed by the amount of research I’ll end up doing to write a convincing story.

I need to get over that.