Waning days

After Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, I will be travelling with my parents, my sister and her family, and my youngest brother and his family to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., for a brief getaway. This is the first time we’ve ever done something exactly like this before, and I am really looking forward to it. My 13-year-old niece is really, really looking forward to it. On Monday, she IMed me that she was one-quarter packed. Tuesday, she IMed me that she was half-packed. We’ll be going to Dollywood theme park on Friday, which has special holiday decorations and activities.

Anyway, I’ll be out of reach of the blogosphere until Saturday night. Please try to contain your wailing and gnashing of teeth over this traumatic announcement.

The novel is progressing — and I’m pretty sure I can make 50,000 words by Tuesday, even with my holiday break — but the past few days have felt a little more like speed-writing and a little less like the rush of creativity I felt last week and over the weekend. In the past few days, there have been more passages that I know will have to be rewritten even while I’m writing them. Of course, that’s what was promised from the outset; I never promised you “The Sun Also Rises,” so any flashes of brilliance were a special bonus treat.

But on balance, I still like much of what I’ve done so far. I like the characters, and the situations, and bits and pieces of the dialogue. I really look forward to going back and trying to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear. I think I can make it good; I’m not sure, however, if it will ever be marketable. It doesn’t fit any particular genre, and yet it doesn’t have the dramatic heft to be general literature. It’s just a nice little story. I hope you’ve enjoyed the unusual experience of reading a work in progress.

No, seriously, John, we’re really sick of hearing about the novel

I am now at 33,337 words. The reason this is significant is that, by midnight tonight, I needed to be at or beyond 33,333 words in order to make 50,000 by the end of the month. I have now caught up, and for the first time this month I am at or ahead of schedule. I may write a little more tonight, and hope to make good progress tomorrow as well, which will hopefully put me ahead of pace. The reason I want to be ahead of pace is because I will lose a day or two over the weekend when we take a family trip to Pigeon Forge.

Woo hoo!


I have just finished writing a very emotional part of the novel. It is either very good or very bad, and I’m not sure which. I’m also not sure whether to go ahead and use it now or save it until later in the book. At least it’s written, and I can go ahead and add it to my word count even if I save it for later (and I obviously won’t post it to the novel blog until I get to it in the novel).

We’re sick of hearing about the novel, John

With no meetings or other obligations tonight, I had some good time to work on the novel. As it happened, I had a scene tonight where several of the main characters make speeches at a city council meeting, and that turned out to be productive in terms of word-count. But I’ve gone quite a way past that scene.

Anyway, I did more than 3,000 words today. I’m not certain but I think that’s the most I’ve done in a single day’s work, with the possible exception of last Saturday, when I was home all day.

Also, earlier in the day, I thought of a couple of plot twists that will allow me to take the novel past the plot arc I had originally envisioned, since that original story is not going to fill 50,000 words.

Please, as you read the thing, keep in mind that I’m shooting for quantity in this draft, not quality. Some parts of it are purple prose, and some are just silly. But I continue to be surprised by some of the twists and turns it’s taking, and I look forward to wrestling it into shape once National Novel Writing Month has ended.

Kevin’s NaNoing too

As I blogged below, I interviewed Brad Abare and Kevin Hendricks of the “Church Marketing Sucks” web site earlier this week for The Door.

I’ve had to correspond with them since about artwork for the article, and Kevin e-mailed me today; he had apparently gone to my web site and noticed that I am writing a novel for National Novel Writing Month. Turns out Kevin is writing one, too! Here it is.

Church Marketing Sucks

I interviewed Brad Abare and Kevin Hendricks of “Church Marketing Sucks” earlier today for The Door. (The Door is backlogged with interviews right now, so It will be mid-year 2005 before this probably sees print.)

I was extremely impressed by both of them. They are passionate about challenging the church to do a better job of communicating its message to others, and yet they are grounded enough to recognize that marketing’s job is to serve, not overwhelm. That kind of marketing does not expect the church to conform; it takes what is already true about the church and finds an effective way of directing that message towards those most in need of it.

I highly recommend their web site for anyone active in a local church. (And I highly recommend being active in a local church.)

The good news: the novel is up to more than 21,000 words. The bad news: it’s November 15, halfway through the month, so I should be at 25,000. But I’m continuing to make progress, and I may not even be through for this evening.

I’m still here

Thanks to all of you (and there have been several) who have passed along kind comments about the novel. I apologize for not having more content in this forum while I am working on it.

I am having a blast with NaNoWriMo. I don’t know if “Postage Required” will end up being marketable or not, but the characters are taking on lives of their own, there are little bits of business that I really like, and I’m starting to at least feel like I can write a novel if I want to. I may or may not get to 50,000 words this month, but I’ve definitely accomplished something, and maybe if this one doesn’t work out I can get a running start on another one.

Novel notes

Work on the novel continues to go well. I have abandoned my original anal-retentive plan of posting the novel and updating my word count only at the end of the evening. My blog posts became awkward if I ended them in the middle of a scene, so now I don’t post until I’m at a good stopping point — which could be at any time during the day.

Meanwhile, I’m updating my word count at the NaNoWriMo web site whenever I feel like it — for example, when I pass a particular round number and want to brag about it. I’m updating the word count more often than I’m posting to the novel blog, if that explains it better.

I have consciously tried to avoid going back and editing what I’ve already posted — because, with my NaNoWriMo deadline, I don’t have the time. But I did change a couple of minor things in material I’d already posted. I had a time element confused in one of my earlier posts, and so I changed the day of the week in one post. I also had a reference early in the novel to Miller paying property tax — which makes no sense, because he’s a renter. When I realized my mistake, I went back and struck half of a sentence. For the most part, however, I am letting my work stand as I write it. There will be plenty of time in December to go back and edit what I’ve written. My goal right now is quantity, not quality. I am developing work habits which are improving my creative output. If I can keep up some of these work habits after the month has ended ….

Well, let’s take things one step at a time. Right now, I have a crappy novel to write. :)

Woo hoo!!!

I had been feeling a little frustrated with my novel because I didn’t catch completely up with my 50,000-word pace this weekend as I’d hoped. But I had a very good night tonight (even though it was a weeknight, and even though I had to take time out to cover a meeting for the newspaper). I’ve still got catching up to do, but I passed the 10,000 mark and now feel like I can catch up over the course of the week.

Ironically, I came to what seemed like the end of a scene, checked my word count, and I was at 9,999 words. I went back and looked at my last sentence; I thought it was appropriate to add one more sentence, in which another character offers some encouragement to my central character: “Keep it up, Miller.” That line took me over 10,000, and it’s as if I was telling myself to “Keep it up.”

I also watched tonight as one of my characters did something completely different from what I had intended her to do, which is always gratifying. :)