Sunday, October 25, 2009

Nanowrimo goals change

One week until Nanowrimo and everything has changed. Remember that part of my last post about how if my computer crashed I would lose everything? Well that happened. And in the middle of my first back-up! Thursday night I took my laptop to the Genius Bar and they confirmed that not only was the hard drive dead, but nothing had been transferred to the back up hard drive before it died.


So after hours of soul searching I’ve decided to devote Nanowrimo this year to writing a rough draft of the story I’ve been working on for the last 13 months. I’m afraid that if I spend the next month thinking about a different story, I’ll lose all the ideas I have for the immortality book, and won’t ever come back to it. I’ve just done too much work to let that happen.

Is it crazy to sign up for a month of compulsively working on a project I’m already burnt out on? Am I completely nuts to think a draft written in a month will be anywhere near satisfying after I spent a year carefully crafting the lost work I did on this book? And, am I putting myself at serious risk of failing Nanowrimo by taking this on? Probably, probably, and certainly, but at least it’ll be a good challenge.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Countdown to Nanowrimo

Just 11 days left until November, and the official start of Nanowrimo. Last year I fudged the rules by working on a novel I already had in progress, and aiming for just 30,000 words by month end. This year I am only too happy to set my W.I.P. aside and focus on something completely different for a month.

A quick update on the Work in Progress: I’ve been working on my immortality book for 13 months now, and am seeing the characters and plot lines coming together. The shape of the book has changed a lot, and what I used to envision as the first half or third of the book is now more than enough to cover the entire novel. The climax is still the same – boy becomes immortal! – but I’ve done a lot of work on characterization and world building, so I have a better idea now of what the tone of the book should be.

I’ve also been doing a lot of research. No one would mistake me for a scientist, but I certainly have a better grasp on the basic principles of genome mapping, dna manipulation, and where “aging” happens. All science and no play makes Kayleigh’s project a dull book, so in addition to banging my head into every information wall I can find, I’ve also done a lot of fun reading, including Patricia Highsmith’s Strangers on a Train, some recent issues of Tin House, and Carolyn See’s Making a Literary Life. Now I’m finally reading Frankenstein, which falls somewhere between research and fun reading.

Despite the progress, I’ve been feeling pretty burned out lately. All my documents and notes have become unwieldy, and going back through the early chapters when my characters had completely different names and backgrounds is utterly demoralizing. I must’ve written 20 “first chapters” and none of them are going to be the real one. I think it’ll be good to have a month off to regain some perspective, and also some time when I’m not reading about the free radicals that are building up in my cells, busting up my mitochondria and making me look old (not pleasant).

So, as November 1 and a sweet vacation from sci-fi approach, I’m gearing up for a month when the only thing that matters is word count, and nobody gets that glazed look in their eyes when I start chatting about telomerase (because I will not be discussing telomerase, of course). I will be a lean, mean, word typing machine and by November 30 I will have a complete story – beginning, middle and end!

Here are a few of the preparations I’ve made in advance of Nanowrimo:

1. First, I downloaded Scrivener to organize my book. Scrivener is a great little program that’s very intuitive. It organizes chapters, notes, and even source documents, and makes rearranging novel section or getting word counts effortless. During Nanowrimo, they’re offering a free trial subscription that goes now through December, and then 50% off the cost of the application to nano winners. After that, I
2. Bought a backup hard drive. Finally. What made the decision for me was seeing my old novels neatly organized in Scrivener and realizing I would lose ALL OF IT if my computer crashed. Luckily I found a great deal on MacMall for the one I’ve had my heart set on. Thus secured, I
3. Reread No Plot, No Problem. A great pep talk and excellent refresher on the nanowrimo rules. Now all that’s left is
4. Stocking up on easy-to-prepare foods and candies. I’m also going to need a sizable chunk of money for ordering Pizzas and Chinese food. Yes my diet will suffer, but there's no gain without pain right? But wait, I'd also love to
5. Get some more nanowrimo buddies. If you’re reading this and by some miracle your name is not Julia or Ryan, you can get in on the novel writing action at My user name is Kayleigh and I’d love to have some more people to race to the finish line. See you there!