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Category Archives: Of Writing

Neon Bug City

Well would you just look at this. Two posts in two days.  Back to back!  I hope this doesn’t establish some sort of unrealistically expectant precedent.

Anyway, it seems like Neon Bug City is live on evil global megacorporation Amazon dot com, and also on friendly socialistic sometimes broken but always happy Gumroad.  It’s probably some weird amount on Amazon because their pricing thing is bonkers.  It’s whatever you feel like paying on Gumroad, including zero dollars (&zero cents).  Get it from wherever you like, and know that I don’t really mind whether you pay for it or not.  If you read it and enjoy it then maybe tell someone, that’d be nice.

Oh, it’s the latest thing set in the Charlotte Powers solar system.  Giant ants.  Sad old mercenary protag.  Quite a bit of action.  Some feelings.  There’s a few gags I’m pretty happy with.  Overall, definitely a book.

I also put a few more things up on Gumroad while I was mucking around, the Resonances are there, and Imogen Shroud, so if you’re in the mood for a big long vaguely post-apocalyptic dark fantasy kids-with-powers thing, (or cosplaying zombies), then go grab ’em.  Episodic fiction experimentios Bright Battle Story and Death Theory and Remember When are also things that exist.

That’s all.  Don’t expect more posts and you won’t be disappointed.

Until next time,

with love,

BJK White
(The Author Person)

 
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Posted by on December 21, 2017 in Of Writing

 

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Last Girl Standing

So I just hit publish on Neon Bug City, the next book set in the Charlotte Powers galaxy (although she’s had to give over the protagonist reins to Ezekeli “Ellie” Kane, professional sad old arsehole).  It’s about giant ants and depression.  I wasn’t going to put up a post until it was actually available but it turns out I didn’t post about putting out Treasure Guardians, which is weird because I could have sworn I did.

So well anyway. I did a book with my daughters and it turned out pretty okay.  It’s called Treasure Guardians and it’s about a bunch of amnesiac kids fighting monsters for loot.  You can go take a look at it riiiiiight here.  This is my favourite chapter heading illustration from it:

TG - Chapter - 15.gif

The other thing is that I’ve started putting up stuff on Gumroad, which seems like a good sort of distribution bizzo even if the image server breaks every other day.  Everything’s pay what you want starting from zero dollars and there are the first episodes of a couple of serial stories there, SRPG underdog sports story Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, horrible deathmurder killnasty Death Theory, and beautiful ugly teenage monster drama Remember When Things Weren’t Broken.  These are being released on an interest system, by which I mean if there’s any interest I’ll keep putting them out.  I’ll also be putting my other stuff on there in a haphazard once-I-get-around-to-it fashion.  If there’s anything in particular you want to see then just tell me.  You’d be astounded just how much influence the most throwaway comment can have on my habits.  Charlotte Powers 5 got finished about three months early because of a random tweet from someone who liked the series.

Anyway, that’s about it for now. See you tomorrowish once Neon Bug City goes live.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2017 in Of Writing

 

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“Everything Else Is Harder”

The real problem is that once you get out of the habit of publishing it’s very difficult indeed to get back into that habit.  Just writing stuff and then moving on to the next exciting thing is so much more fun.  Probably part of the problem is a lack of audience, it’s not like anyone is clamouring for my next thing.  I get the same feedback from writing something and setting it aside as I do from writing something and releasing it.  This makes it difficult to put energy into publishing.

Energy.  Yes.  I don’t have much of that stuff.  When I do have some, and the choice is between writing and not-writing, generally speaking not-writing doesn’t have much of a chance.

But anyway.  It is important to publish.  To judge a thing finished and release it into the wild.  I’ve got quite a few things ready to shove out of the nest.  Treasure Guardians, Bright Battle Story, Death Theory, this new exciting thing called Remember When Things Weren’t Broken, plus there’s the next book in the Charlotte Powers universe.  It’s about monsters, and also giant ants.

Enough blathering, let’s make some promises.  Seeing as we’re almost in February already I thought that’d be a good month in which to start doing stuff.  I’m not sure how I’ll go about it, but I’ll probably start with the episodic stuff.  Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, and Death Theory.  Then probably Treasure Guardians, the book I wrote with my daughters.  It’s pretty good.  They had some wild ideas.  Neon Bug City (the Charlotte Powers thing) needs more time, but maybe March or April for that one.  Could be longer.  Remember When Things Weren’t Broken I’ll probably just put out as I write it, I feel like it’s that sort of story and I need a bit of a shake up in that area.

Okay!  So.  That’s me.  How have you been?

 
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Posted by on January 29, 2017 in Of Writing

 

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One Girl Army

Let’s just get this out of the way, One Girl Army is not Frog Fractions 2. Not even a little bit. (Or is it?) (No.) (But…?) (No.)

Anyway. One Girl Army. Charlotte Powers 6 (kind of). It’s not a journal story. But it is about Charlotte.

I feel a bit different towards this one. It’s the first book I’ve written where I feel like the thing I started off wanting to make turned out to be the thing I actually made. Usually it gets changed around a lot, or things don’t work out, or whatever, whatever, whatever. Not so in this case. The book I finished writing is the same one that I started writing. And it is finished. So now it’s time to let go. I’ve worked on it for so long, I’ve spent thousands of hours with it, I’ve read through it a dozen times and I still kind of want to read it again.

I really like this book. I’m very happy with it. I hope others enjoy it too.

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2016 in Of Writing

 

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The Land of Do-As-You-Please

Just putting this up because it’s interesting the number of emails I’ve received—given that I don’t sell a lot of books therefore don’t have a lot of readers therefore do not, generally speaking, receive a lot of emails—concerning the evils of Amazon exclusivity and DRM and so on.

None of my books are DRMed, but there is a certain bound-to-Amazon quality about them. I mean you can take them off your Kindle and shove them into whatever else you’ve got, there’s nothing stopping you from doing that, but should my books suddenly and without warning vanish from Amazon, and if your Kindle exploded, and if you had no backup, they’d be gone.

Alternately, you might just have a problem with Amazon. Or not own a Kindle. Or just not have any money. Or have money, but don’t particularly want to spend it on my books.

So, this is me saying that if you ever want any of my books for whatever reason, just ask for them. I can convert to epub fairly easily (although I can’t guarantee the quality, they SEEM fine but I’ve never actually looked at them on an epub device because all I have is an increasingly creaky Kindle 3) (I like buttons) or possibly to other formats? I haven’t looked into it, but if you’ve got something that uses a format other than mobi or epub I’ll certainly investigate the possibility of conversion.

In a soonish kind of timeframe I’ll be putting my books up for download in a centralish kind of location, most likely cloverisland.co.nz. Until then (and even afterwards) the quickest way to reach me is probably Twitter, @BJKWhite, or you can email me at theauthorperson@cloverisland.co.nz.

So yes. If you want my books, you can buy them on Amazon. Or just ask me for them. Or fairly soon just go and download them. This does mean that I’ve had to take them out of the KDP program, so they’re no longer available to borrow. (In Amazon country you follow Amazon rules.) I’ll also be slapping a creative commons license on them (non-commercial share alike etc etc details to follow) so do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law (although don’t pretend you wrote them or sell them or anything obviously).

One other thing, in light of recent TPPA-ish issues. I’m kind of a big believer in, what to call it, guiltless influence? Freedom of ideas? Like if you read one of my books and you think “That was okay but I could do way more with that concept” then you totally should. Take whatever you want from anything I’ve made. Use it however you like. Ideas are important but only doing matters. You can’t take my finished books and put your name on them or sell them. But you can take the ideas I used and create your own things from them, and put your name on those, and sell them if you want.

So that’s it. Feel free to share my books, pinch anything you like from them for your own stuff, go forth, create, fill the world with stories.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2015 in Of Writing

 

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If you come here, you’ll find me. I promise.

Right yes hello. Hello! Let’s talk about stuff I’m doing.

Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, SRPG underdog sports story thing, episodic format, eleven episodes in the first season and then if people like it I’ll write more and if they don’t like it I’ll cry. They’re way too long, the episodes, I think the first one’s like fifteen thousand words, it’s just ridiculous. It’s bonkers! But it’s a pretty neat story and the characters are fun. Maybe a fortnightly release schedule? Read it online or download a mobi or epub or whatever, probably I won’t put every individual episode on Amazon but maybe some kind of bundle. The thing is that I really like how I’ve got the ebook episodes formatted, there’s a little end of episode next episode preview and everything, like in anime! Oh don’t pretend like you haven’t always wanted to do that in a thing you made. I’m not alone in this. (Although it turned out to be impossible to include an ending song. I mean I could’ve put like an ending poem in there at the end of each episode? And indeed tried just that? But it felt wrong.)

Death Theory! Death Theory. Death Theory. Jungle nightmare fantasy survival horror thing. Shaping up kind of nicely? Maybe? One hopes? Probably a similar release schedule to BBS:TH, fortnightly, maybe on alternating Fridays or something. Not sure how long it’ll be, twelve episodes? Maybe? And if it works out I might write more in that particular world. Read online, epub, mobi, etc, etc.

Treasure Guardians! It’s a story I’m writing with my daughters. I wasn’t going to publish it but they insisted, so. Probably better as a novel rather than episodic but I don’t know. Could be fun. Up to ooh I think we’re on chapter sixteen now? We could just keep going forever, the ideas these two girls have are mad.

Charlotte Powers: One Girl Army! It’s so nearly finished but I don’t want to let go. You know, over the past five years and fourteen books I may not have achieved any kind of sales success, but I have gotten really, really good at writing stories that appeal to me. Anyway, a couple more weeks maybe? It really is pretty much done. Charlotte’s life as a freelance social worker in a rebuilding world. Kind of downbeat. Kind of melancholy. Kind of bittersweet. One Girl Army; a story of letting go.

Sales! I sold three books this month, making it officially my worst month for sales ever. I mean you hear about the long tail but this is ridiculous. Still, just the time to try something different, eh chums? You know, sometimes I can’t believe I’ve got fourteen books out there. That’s mad. And they don’t sell, that’s even madder! I must be doing this for love because it sure ain’t for the money.

Until next time, be excellent to yourselves.

And each other.

With love,

The Author Person

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2015 in Of Writing

 

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Mind the gap

So it’s been a while. Years, actually. Charlotte Powers 5 was the last thing I actually published and that was, oh gosh, like December 2013? 2014 the first year in which nothing was published since I started this wacky ol’ author adventure. Of course that’s not to say I haven’t been writing. It’s just that nothing I’ve written felt particularly publishable—not bad, just mostly odd. And when I say mostly odd oh gosh let’s just start this over.

Hello. I am an author person. Over the past two years or so I’ve mostly been working on odd things that don’t translate particularly well to the whole put a thing on Amazon in case people like it system. Episodic stories? Serial novels. I’ve kind of been hanging around in the hopes that someone invents something that makes it really fun and easy to put out a serial episodic thing but y’know, bleh.

The other thing is that a feeling has been building, for years actually, the feeling that I’ve been doing this wrong from the very start. The whole charge a price for a book thing. I don’t know. I just kind of want to write things and then have people read them if they want to. And then maybe give me money if they feel like it? That’d be nice.

So I think probably what’s going to happen is that I’m going to put up all my books for free, in whatever formats people want, and shove a creative commons license on them, and start releasing these episodic things I’ve been doing, and maybe throw a couple of Twine things into the mix because Twine is pretty fun, and maybe possibly start a Patreon. I’m not sure. It’s all a bit up in the air at the moment.

In any case I’ll be releasing a new book soon, a Charlotte Powers story called One Girl Army about her life as a freelance social worker in Harbour City, and all the kinds of trouble a well meaning but auratically unsound Charlotte can get herself into. I’ll also be putting out, in some kind of format, at least two episodic stories. One is Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, which I’ve been working on for so long that at this point it’s genuinely embarrassing. I have eleven episodes of it anyway, a decent sort of first series. BBS:TH is an underdog sports story about characters living in an SRPG world. It might have niche appeal? Or the niche it appeals to might be limited to a single author person whose name rhymes with Pen Bright. I honestly have no idea. But I’d like it to be out there. The second is a story I’ve had in my head for, oh, like half a decade now? It’s called Death Theory. It’s the most brutal, violentest, sweariest, ugliest thing I’ve yet written. It’s also written in first person present with like a dozen viewpoint characters, most of whom die horribly in the first few episodes. I like it a lot! Maybe other people will too. So that’ll be coming.

So yes. I’m still writing. I have been writing. New stuff is coming. I’m not sure what form it will take. Maybe a large moving torb, or a giant sloar. Books will remain on Amazon but will also be free. Patreon might be an option.

I remain,

as always,

with love,

The Author Person

 
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Posted by on September 11, 2015 in Of Writing

 

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Is this slightly awkward? I feel like this might be slightly awkward

I mean sure, I thought “Haven’t posted on the ol’ bjournal in a while, haven’t had a lot to say” but I didn’t realise that it’s been literally years.

I have something to say now.  It’s not a big thing.  It is, in fact, a little thing.  But I want to say it, so I will.

Last night I was checking something in Charlotte Powers 4, for the sake of continuity mostly—

On that subject (to digress briefly) there was an enormous, mortifying continuity error in the Charlotte Powers books that caused me to have an actual catapult nightmare-style reaction/realisation moment.  I wasn’t asleep at the time I realised the error.  I was proofing.  Even so.  Horrifying to the point of actual physical pain.  I fixed it but I’ll always know it was there.

—so I was checking something in Charlotte Powers 4, for the sake of continuity in the new Charlotte Powers book I’m working on, and I noticed something odd.  I’d marked a line, which I often do when proofing, but this wasn’t a proof copy of the book.  This was the actual live published edition.  Why would I mark a line for proofing in a book I’d already published?  Once my books have been released to the wild I can barely stand to look at them, much less proof them again.  So what was this?

It was, in fact, someone else’s highlighted line.  The highlighted line of three distinct someone elses, to be accurate.  Three people out there in this weird world of ours who thought these words I had arranged in this particular order were worth, I don’t know, more than just looking at with their eyes.

I’ve been in this game a while now.  Coming up on six years.  I’ve published fourteen books.  None of them sell.  Even just writing those four words I’ve already bored myself.  My position, as regarding writing, is that I write the stories I want to exist and I make them as good as I’m able to make them, and if other people also want them to exist then fantastic.  Otherwise I don’t much mind. I’m aware that there are things I could maybe do to maybe sell more books and I’m aware that there are changes I could make to maybe make my books more generally appealing, but I’m lazy and stubborn and tired and socially anxious and don’t like being looked at and maybe I actually like being a least-selling author.  It has its perks.

The thing is, though, that writing for yourself and not really selling any books and being largely unread, you’re alone.  You create worlds and characters and you probably have pretty strong feelings about them—I mean, I care about Charlotte.  I care about the world she lives in.  But nobody else in this world does.  It’s not as if it’s a popular series and people talk about it and speculate and write fanfiction and ship the characters and so on.  My books are cold, because stories need readers to make them warm.

These highlighted lines were a flicker of warmth.  They were a connection, an echo, a feeling reflected.  The whole thing hit me pretty hard, to be honest.  I got a bit teary. I felt some emotions.  I smiled and winced and smiled again.  I went through my other books and found other highlighted lines, including one of a gag I always really liked but—until that moment, years after I wrote it—felt fairly alone in doing so.

Like I said, it’s a little thing.  Nothing earth-shattering, nothing important to anyone but me.

But to me, to me, it meant something.

So what I want to say is, thank you.

 
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Posted by on April 26, 2015 in Of Writing

 

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So How Are You Doing, Clover Island Publishing?

Aha, pretty good lately? Getting a little better? I mean I can’t say it’s been a great year, in terms of productivity. I hit a low point around the start of the year, sick, tired, no energy, sales were hilariously terrible—in January I sold less than twenty books, in February less than ten—and generally I felt that whatever my personal thoughts about my books, the fact was that not a lot of people were much interested in them. Still, I kept at it, my pace reduced but still trying to do at least something every day, even if that was just reading over draft manuscripts and murmuring “hmm yes what a clever author person I can be sometimes” (we all need a little ego boost from time to time). So it was that I somehow managed to finish off Charlotte Powers 4, and without all that much enthusiasm publish it (the previous month had seen a grand total of zero sales of the first book in that series). To my surprise people actually bought the blessed thing, around thirty in that first month and then another thirty the second month, and then maybe they told their friends about the series or something equally wondrous and splendid because the first book started selling again. Which was lovely! I mean it’s all very well to be all ‘art for art’s sake create for the sake of creation the reward for making something good is having made something good’ but when you’re sharing stories it’s nice when other people are a bit interested in them.

So! I figured that I should do a bit of an update on everything, because it’s only fair to be upfront about where you are with series and such. So here we go:

Resonance
Oh, I love this series. But nobody else does. In three years the series has sold less than a hundred copies, and in the entirety of this year the grand total of sales is … zero. None. Not one single book sold. On top of this the second book wasn’t well-received even by people who liked the first one, so … I don’t know. I guess it’s one of those things where I’m completely in love with things that other people just don’t care about. Also, writing a Resonance book takes at least twice the effort and planning and time as another book—book two took over eight hundred hours just to write, not even counting planning and research and outlining and most of the edits. That is a hefty chunk of time and energy to put into something that people just aren’t interested in. So I can’t really justify continuing it right now. It’s a shame because I had such big plans for it, but there you go. You don’t get to choose what works and what doesn’t.

Miya Black
Not doing quite as poorly as Resonance, but pretty close. This year I’ve sold about thirty in the series, although in the last few months this has dropped to nothing. The main problem here is that I have the figures showing exactly how many people have bought the fifth book—the latest—and it is a nicely round but not overly large twenty. That means that the potential market for the sixth book is currently twenty people. It’s just not enough to justify putting it out. I mean it’s pretty much written, I’d just have to add a couple of things, put in maybe ten thousand words in the middle, do a bunch of editing and it’d be done. But the real problem is that the sixth book kicks off the next arc of the series and it ends in a way that I’d feel really uncomfortable just to leave hanging. Maybe in the future the series will attract more attention. For now, with the latest arc finished, I think it’s best to set it aside.

Charlotte Powers
Finally, some positivity! This is the one series I’ve written that actually sells. I don’t know why, maybe people like first person, maybe they like journals, maybe it’s the superhero thing, maybe it’s just more accessible. In any case it’s selling about two a day across the series, which is, like, amazing. Not to most authors, sure, people writing in popular genres can brag about dozens or hundreds or even thousands of sales a day, but for me in my comfortable little niche even a single sale a day is just brilliant. I mean, that’s progress! That’s one more copy of one of my books out in the big wide world. If a book isn’t selling at all it’s really hard to get enthusiastic about continuing the series—I know where the story goes, I’m interested, but if nobody else is then, well, what’s the point of writing it? Just keep it in my head, that’s the best place for it. But if people ARE interested in the story and the world and the characters, well, that’s a definite wellspring of motivation.

So anyway. Charlotte Powers is the series that’s selling—the series that people are actually interested in—so Charlotte Powers is the series that I’m focusing on. The fifth and final book is almost finished, and I fully expect to have it out before Christmas. After that, well, I do have an idea. Something I’ve been working on and aiming towards. I’m pretty excited about it, to be honest. But best to keep it under wraps until I have something more solid. For now I’ll just say that while this fifth book will provide a definite (and hopefully satisfying) ending to the series, as with all my stories Life Goes On (except when it doesn’t, on account of people being deaded).

Other Books
I’ve had a pseudo-sequel to The Boy & Little Witch in the back of my mind for years, but haven’t quite summoned the motivation necessary to write it. It’s always been a bit of an odd duck anyway, kind of a throwback thing, aimed basically at a target audience of “me when I was eight”, and there’s not much of a market for kid’s books in any case. Well, not this kind of kid’s book, anyway. Similar situation with Imogen Shroud, have the sequel in the back of my mind, can’t quite get excited about writing it—although partly that’s because I’m just a bit sick of zombies. It’s kind of like, there is so much zombie stuff in the world right now, I almost feel guilty contributing to it. Also the first book occupies an uncomfortable middle ground where people who are really into zombies don’t much like it and people who aren’t really into zombies won’t read it because zombies. For a certain kind of person I think it works really well, but that certain kind of person certainly isn’t in the majority. So. Set aside for now.

Future Projects
I do have a couple of things I want to do. The first is Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, my underdog sports story set in a kind of fantasy MMO SRPG, which I’ve been putting off releasing for just ages, literally years. Partly it’s because I know it’s so niche and odd, limited appeal, kind of a bit self-indulgent. Again, that ‘certain people’ minority demographic. Also because I’ll release it as a web serial and kind of keep waiting for a really good easy way to do that. But anyway. I do want to start putting it out there. Maybe a project for the new year, although I said that two years ago and look where that went.

The second project is something that I’m currently calling EndSong, or The Song That Ends The World. It’s a really, stupidly ambitious project that I’m a bit nervous about even starting. Massive story told over multiple series of books, kind of a light novel approach, multiple timeframes, locations, politics, timeskips, oodles of characters. Currently my focus point is another web serial-type series called Death Theory, which would be a very tight, plotty, fast-paced story set in the world but apart from it. Kind of a tester, to see if anyone would even be interested in what I’m doing. Anyway, it’s the kind of thing I have to plan and plan and PLAN and plan so I’m not expecting anything of it any time soon, but who knows.

That’s About It
So that’s where I am right now, and that’s where I’m going. In short, expect more Charlotte Powers, expect less everything else, maybe expect some new stuff sometime.

Just as a final note, kind of out of place but it’s something I’ve wanted to say for a while, if you like something—not even one of my series, just anything really—then dropping a note to the creator is a really good thing to do. Not just for the sake of the artist’s ego, but to pump up motivation and get the next one out sooner. Honestly, there have been a bunch of times where I just did not feel like being remotely creative, but just a little note or something charged me up and got me going again. It’s also a good way to get creators to pay attention to a series they haven’t been thinking about. Just knowing that someone out there is interested is enough to get me to look over my project files and remind me why I love that particular thing.

To get a bit painfully earnest for a moment, if it wasn’t for those brave and splendid few who have mentioned to me that they like my stuff, I might not even still be doing this. Certainly you make it more fun and easier and just generally better. Thank you for being there and for digging my offbeat little stories. I do not have a great quantity of fans, but you make it up in quality.

Okay, that’s it from me for now. Remember, be good to yourselves. And each other.

Love,

BJK White

 
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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Of Writing

 

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My Decade Of NaNoWriMo: ReDux!

Last year I wrote a big long thing about my NaNo experiences, and as it was rather well received I thought I’d bring it out, hose it down, biff a hat on it and do a lazy lazy repost.

So then! November. NaNovember. Did I ever tell you about the time I was the first person in the southern hemisphere to finish NaNoWriMo? Ah, those were the days. The scent of lemon, the halcyon days of spring, something to do with birds quite possibly, and of course I was very, very drunk. If you’re thinking about ‘doing’ NaNo I really recommend it, it’s a great chance to just get some words out without worrying about anything except your wordcount. Some people say this is a rubbish way to write, that you should be focusing on quality, to those niminy-piminy naysayers I say away! Away with your negative applesauce, go spread your brand of gloomsome folderol elsewhere!

But anyway, here be the goods:

2001: I’m twenty years old (or similar) and everyone is too polite to tell me I’m rubbish at writing. I stumble upon NaNoWriMo, lo! What’s this? Fifty thousand words in a month, are they mad? With youthful arrogance and untoward bravado I sign up anyway. November 1st arrives sooner than I had expected, and I’m struck senseless with a lack of inspiration—what to do? I have no story! Aha, but I do have a project, a silly wannabe-Pratchett thing that could use some words. I’ll just write that! Days pass. My word count hovers at two or three hundred. What to do? Just keep writing, harder and longer than I’ve ever written before! More days pass. My daily word count is now in the dozens. No motivation, no plan, no outline, I don’t know where this story is going, I’m just making this up as I go along, I don’t know what to do!

November 30th rolls around.

I barely dare look at my word count.

But I must.

Shock. Disbelief. Somehow I’ve written fifty thousand and sixty-seven words in November. Fifty thousand and eleven of them are unreadable rubbish, but this doesn’t matter. I have joined the elite circle of NaNoWriMo winners. Fifty thousand words in a month; to this day I have no idea how I managed it.

2002: I am a year older; I am a year wiser (theoretically). This time I have a plan—vague, ill-conceived, barely workable, but a plan nonetheless. I will structure my novel into vaguely-linked segments, and each segment will be about anything I want, in whatever tense I want, in whatever style I want. Fantasy, comedy, slapstick, high adventure, Lovecraftian horror, all of these would have a place in my grand second NaNovel. My plan has a secondary component; daily word count goals. This worked better than I expected, and was something I kept as part of my NaNoWriMo armoury.

November 1st: I start writing.

November 4th: This is easy. This is fun. I’m getting some great words out and meeting my daily goals without hassle, who needs an outline, who needs a plot, I’m sure things will tie themselves neatly together once I get near to the end.

November 12th: Over halfway there! Yes, I’ve resorted to retelling my favourite myths and legends as stories-within-stories, no, the plot doesn’t seem to be anywhere near any kind of resolution, yes, I’ve lost track of at least two characters, but I’m sure it’ll work out in the end.

November 17th: WHAT AM I DOING.

November 20th: HELP.

November 22nd: I have met every one of my daily word count goals, but I am not proud of the things I did to achieve this. The story has figuratively exploded, a giant in-universe retcon in a desperate attempt to gain structure and purpose. On the positive side of things I only have twenty thousand words to go.

November 24th: THESE ARE THE LONGEST TWENTY THOUSAND WORDS IN THE HISTORY OF ALL THINGS.

November 25th: Screw it, I’m giving up.

November 25th 1/2: Oh all right then fine I’m not giving up, I never give up, let’s just write anything and see what happens.

November 26th: Uneventful.

November 27th: In a classic fit of anticlimatic activity, somehow I edge over fifty thousand words. The completed manuscript is unsalvageable, but once again, somehow, I have won. I suspect the daily word count goal may have been a contributing factor. Unexpectedly, I’m looking forward to next year’s NaNo. Yes, next year, I’ll have a PROPER plan then!

2003: I actually DO have a proper plan this time. I know you were expecting some kind of deflation joke but this isn’t a book, this is my LIFE. I write notes, I cobble together a basic eight-page outline, I make my daily word count goal chart, I start writing.

Eight days later, I have fifty thousand words and a completed story.

I feel fantastic.

This was the year in which I was the first person in the southern hemisphere to win. The book I wrote is … not terrible. Not entirely. The story of a girl who lets her imagination get the better of her, who is stalked by her fridge, who is visited in her dreams by a man she’s known since she was a little girl, strange and lonely. No, not entirely terrible. With work it could be publishable, but blech, work. On to the next; 2004 will be even better!

2004: This year is not even better. I come into NaNovember without an idea; blind, I start writing anyway. The first two attempts are dismal failures, I get five thousand words into the first before giving up, over ten thousand into the second before abandoning ship.

The third idea holds promise; a fantasy story with intrigue and machinations and spycraft and I didn’t outline it at all so everything fell to pieces after twenty thousand words. Nevertheless I struggle on, write some decent scenes and some cute dialogue and then realise that the story is never going to come anywhere NEAR completion in fifty thousand words. I snip it off with an utterly unsatisfying cop-out ending and call it a learning experience. Still, I wrote fifty thousand words in a month so that’s a technical win.

2005: Hectic. My November was spent in Japan, I think I arrived on October 30th or something ridiculous like that. Fortunately this was the dawn of the era of flash drives, so I wrote the whole thing on a one gig USB stick and borrowed computers. This was the year I came the closest to losing, I submitted my finished manuscript six hours before the deadline. Not a bad little story, actually, but it needed more than fifty thousand words to tell it—another cop-out ending, less unsatisfying than 2004’s, but nowhere near a publishable story.

At this point I am beginning to suspect that outlining may be a good idea.

2006: Despite my suspicion about outlining, I don’t outline this year. Instead I write Fairytale X/Once Upon A, Like, Time, which is a collection of fairytales retold by a semi-clueless teenager trying to understand just what the heck they were going on about, with a lot of MST3K-style snarking. Kind of fun, kind of quirky, kind of shallow. An easy fifty thousand words, but at what cost? I feel like I wasted this year. 2007 will be different.

2007: I don’t really remember what I was doing around this time, but 2007 saw the creation of brother-sister pair Apples and Oranges. They live in a world not unlike our own, except just a teensy bit more awesome. Kind of a fun book, but structurally rubbish. (Still not outlining at this point, and it really, really shows.)

2008: Last year’s book was pretty fun, I should write a sequel to it! That’s a grand idea! Except I was never clear on the story I was telling so the book kind of just fizzled out. Fifty thousand words of pointless (though kind of fun) fluff. On to the next.

2009: I’m starting to take writing more seriously. I’m also starting to appreciate the value of outlining; of having a plan before I begin. I have a lot of ideas for Apples and Oranges, so I outline and then write the third in their series, a quirky little thing about the creation of a Pokemon-like game by the Free Art Academy Apples attends. It’s fun but terribly, terribly self-indulgent, although the climax, wherein Apples and OJ use their spirit guides, David Bowie and Michael Caine, in a Pokemon-style battle, is one of the funniest things I’ve ever written. (To me, I mean, not to anyone else. Anyone else would read it and just think, “This author is mad, and not in a good way”.)

2010: I’m starting down the road to indie authordom. E-publishing has not come up on my radar yet, but I’ve put a few books out in print (to be universally ignored). At this point I had written Miya Black I through IV, was struggling with V, and had also written Birds Of Passage and The Boy & Little Witch. My intention had been to write the fourth book in the Apples and Oranges series, about the adventures of OJ’s band, and I had some great ideas for it … but in the last week of October an idea came out of nowhere and wouldn’t leave me alone, a superhero story, a diary thing—I just couldn’t stop thinking about it. Come November 1st I wrote notes like a maniac, hammered out a pretty detailed outline, and by the end of the day I had eleven thousand words written. Day two, another nine thousand. On day three I got serious, put my head down, and got up to 41,000—and ran into a problem. The story was finished! There wasn’t anything more to tell! But I worked on it that night, I read through and thought about things I could include or expand on, and eventually I realised that there was something significant I could add to it and that took me over fifty thousand words. Phew. So last year I finished NaNoWriMo in four days, and came out of it with Charlotte Powers: Power Down. You’d think it’d be an unbelievably rough first draft, but in fact it turned out to be one of the cleanest I’ve ever produced. I took a couple of weeks to edit and proof and eventually I published it.

2011: The book I wrote in four days is by far my best-selling title; I’ve sold twice as many copies of Power Down as I have of all my other books combined. Yep, life is funny sometimes. This year I ran into an odd kind of problem, similar to the previous year: at around day six I ran out of story. I did all I could to try to add to the book, to wring out a few more words, but there was just nothing I could do. The story began where it began and ended where it ended and everything in between was doing what it should be doing, and adding more to that would be pointless—nay, wrong. I put that book aside and had a good sort of a think about things, and the next day I reset my official NaNo word count to zero and started in on a new book. Outlined it, wrote it, and got fifty thousand words by the 30th—which didn’t actually finish the story, but still, that’s a technical win.

2012: This year, I push myself. I want to get back that old feeling of panicked terror and crushing pressure. Fifty thousand words in a month is easy, if you’ve done it ten times before. Even a hundred thousand isn’t so much of a stretch. That’s why this year I’ve decided to write one hundred and fifty thousand words in November. I don’t know if I’ll succeed, but that’s part of the fun. Most likely I’ll write a literary wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing first, then probably Charlotte Powers #5, then Tactics Heart until I drop.

I’m really looking forward to it.

In any case that’s my decade (and a bit) of NaNoWriMo. I’ve had some laughs and learned a lot, especially the importance of planning and outlining. Doing NaNoWriMo has also helped with my focus and discipline, has greatly increased my writing endurance, and has left me with about half a million words of unpublishable rubbish (but it’s good to get words out, no matter how rubbish they are). All in all, I wouldn’t be the writer I am now without NaNo. If you’re interested, do it.

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Of Writing

 

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