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Bands of various kinds and NaNoWriMo

by Eva Amsen

So, I’ve been launching myself into something I actually have the time, but not the inspiration for. Or maybe I have inspiration and time, but no confidence. Whichever it is, I have an excuse for not blogging, and that’s what matters.

You see, I’m doing NaNoWriMo this year. The goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. It’s hard. I’m very behind. NaNoWriMo lets you update your word count on the site, and you can see where you are and where you’re supposed to be.

This is what my graph looks like today:

Procrastination, visualized.

My love of graphs, seeing the brown graph go up fast enough to cross the blue one in time, is the only thing that’s motivating me to actually finish this. And my inability to leave things unfinished. And the fact that if you reach 50,000 by November, you get a 50% discount on the writing software I’ve been using, and it’s nice.

If you peek around on the forums at NaNoWriMo for a while, it’s immediately obvious that people love writing about dragons, vampires, space, vampires in space, the future, aliens, crime, the middle ages, or romantic teen novels (set in space, and featuring vampires, natch).

I’m not that imaginative, so mine is about a bunch of regular people, and the story is set in Toronto, in October 2009. Because outer space and the future is way too difficult. Last month and my own city are complicated enough. And oh gosh I made it so difficult. You know how in the movie “Love, Actually” there are like thirty characters and everyone is somehow related? It’s kind of like that, except with dragons the characters and stories are completely different.

I had to jot down some notes to figure out what was happening simultaneously with whom, because eventually things converge in outer space. There’s a guy who works in a lab (because I wrote what I know) and he had to be done with an experiment at a certain time, so I was working out what he had to do when, and figured out that he had to put his blot in antibody on Wednesday night. (Mad creepy flashbacks to writing my own schedule for lab work, of course. Eerie, that feeling of panic about making a fake person get his stuff done on time and accounting for overnight steps.) In that same week, there’s a big event for another character. Her band is performing their first big show in a local pub.
So I wrote down: “Thursday: bands show.”

See what happened there? I meant to write “band’s show”, forgot the apostrophe, and on rereading my notes a few hours later, I thought that part referred to the guy’s Western blot experiment. Because Thursday would have been the day he’d see the bands show up!
You know what, I’m going to work that in somehow.

Also, does this count toward my word count?

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Stephen Curry November 21, 2009 - 10:18 AM

Best of luck with this, Eva! But no, the blog post _doesn’t_ count, so get back to work!
(Would be good to have your review of Scrivener sometime…)

Samuel Frankel November 21, 2009 - 10:56 AM

“I made a graph. I make a lot of graphs” – Lisa Simpsons
Well I for one am looking forward to reading your novel, not having much patience these days with fiction involving dragons, and having a lot more patience for writing that involves blots of various directions. Bands are also good.
Take care!

Jennifer Rohn November 21, 2009 - 11:07 AM

Eva, 20,000 words is nothing to sneeze at. Seriously. I think you’re doing great, and it’s all about quality, not quantity. The project got you writing, which is the main thing.

Henry Gee November 21, 2009 - 11:12 AM

Er …. what Jenny said.

Kristi Vogel November 21, 2009 - 12:40 PM

What is it with the vampire obsession, anyway? New Orleans was rotten with faux vampires, particularly around the old cemeteries … which are interesting places, but you needn’t dress like a vampire to take photos of crypts and statuary.
20,000 words sounds like a lot to me, Eva. I tried NaNoWriMo one year, and topped out at around 1000 words; the experience convinced me that there is certainly _not_ a novel locked inside my brain, screaming to be let out.

Sabbi Lall November 21, 2009 - 3:34 PM

“Daily Goal” looks like a writing robot- I wonder if there’s anyone who actually writes with that kind of pattern? It’d be fun (but silly) to work out someone’s writing kcat.
_What is it with the vampire obsession, anyway?_
I thought it was a tween obsession?

Eva Amsen November 21, 2009 - 6:16 PM

Stephen, Scrivener has a trial for 30 days of use (not 30 consecutive days from installation, but actual days on which you use it) so you can play with it. It has a place to put notes or link text to notes and save references while you’re writing (not academic references, but things like pictures, random urls, etc)
Everyone, I’m just writing like mad to make it to 50,000. This isn’t actually any _good_ and not for human consumption. If you want to read exciting things about blots, read Jenny’s book. She spent more than a month on it.

Henry Gee November 21, 2009 - 11:12 PM

_If you want to read exciting things about blots, read Jenny’s book. She spent more than a month on it_
Well, there you are. Writing the first draft is the quick and easy part. It’s the editing, re-writing, throwing it all away in disgust, writing something else instead, coming back to it years later and re-writing it again that takes the time.

Eva Amsen November 22, 2009 - 5:50 AM

But starting a first draft wasn’t easy for me at all. I’m overwhelmed by anything over 1000 words, and I’m very slow and precise (see start of graph). Now I had to learn to just write without editing on the fly, and it’s actually a pretty useful skill to learn: I got a paid writing assignment this week(non-fiction, of course, and not at all literary), due in two weeks, for 4500 words. Longest I’ve ever done. But now I saw “4500” and thought “Pff, I can do that in a _day_.” Because today I wrote 4616 words. And I passed the magic halfway mark for NaNoWriMo, having now written 25600 words altogether.
So huge required word counts are not scary anymore, because I know there are different ways to approach writing than the slow sentence-by-sentence and word-by-word building I’ve been doing.
(I don’t know how I ever wrote a thesis, and it was only last year. I must have been unconscious for 80% of that.)

Alyssa Gilbert November 22, 2009 - 1:04 PM

Like the others said, 20,000 words in less than a month is great! I totally agree that learning to write without editing is a learned skill. I definitely used that during my thesis writing, and it worked so much better than trying to have it perfect the first time around.
_(I don’t know how I ever wrote a thesis, and it was only last year. I must have been unconscious for 80% of that.)_
That’s the only way to get through it without going insane, I think!

Anna Vilborg November 22, 2009 - 1:49 PM

To me 20 000 words in less than a month sound very impressive…
_I thought that part referred to the guy’s Western blot experiment_
That’s what I thought too when I saw your title – thinking you were getting nostalgic for lab work and had taken up a little Western blotting on the side 🙂

Cath Ennis November 26, 2009 - 7:03 PM

LOL at bands show. Great stuff! Keep up the good work!
30 day free trial, eh? Hmmmm. (scurries off).

Joanna Scott November 27, 2009 - 9:11 PM

How are you doing, Eva? I’m on 33,000 with three and a bit days to go! I like your graph – I haven’t tried it yet, but mine would definitely look much more behind than that…

Eva Amsen November 27, 2009 - 9:17 PM

I passed 40k yesterday! But I have some traveling ahead of me before the month is over, and I don’t write well on planes (see graph: start of the month was also a trip) so I’m trying to work really hard tonight to get as far as possible.

Joanna Scott November 27, 2009 - 9:29 PM

Woohoo! Almost there! Keep typing!

Eva Amsen November 30, 2009 - 10:49 AM Reply
Lou Woodley November 30, 2009 - 11:19 AM

Well done! That is no small achievement. I’m really curious to hear about how the final version turned out – maybe you and Joanna should post some select paragraphs for us or even a short reading?

Ken Doyle November 30, 2009 - 7:34 PM

Congrats, Eva! I hit 50K on Sunday afternoon at a coffee shop, in the company of a few other WriMo-ers. My “novel” is terrible stuff, mostly, but at least I have something that I can go back and rewrite! (And, no, it does not contain vampires.)
I’ve been meaning to try Scrivener, and now I have an excuse 🙂

Eva Amsen November 30, 2009 - 8:08 PM

Yay! Joanna still has a few hours to go so I hope she makes it too, then we have a complete NN victory thing going on! (I think it was just us three participating in it)

Shelley Edmunds November 30, 2009 - 9:09 PM

Yes but did you finish the story?

Richard Wintle November 30, 2009 - 9:22 PM

w00t! Well done you (and Ken, and Joanna I’m guessing).
That Scrivener software looks v. cool I must say.

Joanna Scott December 1, 2009 - 12:12 AM

Well done, Eva and Ken!
I can make it a NN full house – I finished on 52,614 in a Starbucks in Reno on Sunday afternoon! Was a bit of a mission to wrap up the story at the end (note to self: next year, don’t leave 25,000 to do in the last four days…) but in the end, the lion saved the day and they all lived happily ever after 😉
I’ll have to have a look at Scrivener, but I must admit I’m more excited about my proof copy from CreateSpace.

Ken Doyle December 1, 2009 - 2:59 PM

Congrats, Joanna!
Do post your experiences with CreateSpace, once you’ve tried it. My cousin is considering it to publish his first novel. It’ll be a long while before I get to that stage 🙂


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