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. 🙂

Weekend news

I’ve been so busy with the novel this past week I really haven’t done much here (except for updating you about the progress of the novel, natch).

It’s been a good weekend. Yesterday, I, my parents, my brother, sister-in-law and nephews from Smyrna went to Linden to see one of my other nephews (my sister’s 11-year-old son) in his junior-pro football playoff game. He got a hard hit and had to leave the game, which they lost, but it was good to be there anyway. It was also fun after the game, when my father broke the news to my 13-year-old niece about a planned family outing to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., Thanksgiving weekend. My niece’s squeal of delight was worth the trip.

This evening, we had a prayer service at my church. We’ve had some divisions in recent months, over the departure of a popular associate pastor and over a proposal to buy property for new construction. This meeting was intended as a time of prayer and praise, not mentioning any of the divisive issues but simply concentrating on our church and its mission. Not everyone was there who needed to be, but I think we had a good turnout and a powerful time of prayer and praise.

The novel is still behind pace — but in a strange way, I don’t mind. I have been writing every day, and I’m proud of that, and while it’s still a rush job, I like parts of it very much and may have to go back and work on it after the month ends, whether I finish it by Nov. 30 or not.

Novel update

I am still behind schedule, but I made some progress today and expect to make more over the weekend.

I’d been posting the novel to its blog each day’s work at a time. Tonight, for readability purposes, I collapsed the first three posts (which make up Chapter 1) into a single post. I think this will be my regular pattern; after I finish a chapter, I’ll collapse the several posts into one in order to make it easier to read for those who may happen along later in the month. Regular readers (like that will happen) can still follow it day by day, but for those who check in only occasionally, this should be more convenient.

The novel is pretty rough, as you might expect from NaNoWriMo‘s quantity-over-quality approach, but I have to say there are parts of it I’m surprised by. If I can get it finished this month (and that’s a huuuuuuge if), I may have to go back in the future and rewrite it into something more presentable.

A busy evening

Not much work on the novel today — less than a quarter of what my daily average should be — but I had a real excuse: election night. My brain is fried, and so I went ahead and posted what I had done this afternoon.

The radio coverage, which ran from 6:30 until about 9:20 or so, was a hoot. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and the owners of the station seemed pleased with the way it went. My parents even called my brother Mike in California and held the phone to the radio so he could hear a little of it.

We shut down once the most important local race — a hotly-contested State Senate race between a Republican from our county and a Democratic incumbent from the much-larger county to our north — had been decided. We didn’t get a chance to talk to the winning candidate on the air, but I kept trying to reach him for the newspaper once I got home, and I finally got through and got a few comments. So now, all I have to do is sit here and watch the presidential results drift in.

My colleague Ann Bullard just called to compliment my work on the radio, which was sweet of her.

Up and running

I thought I would wait until bedtime to post the novel, but I came to a good stopping point, so I’ve stopped for the day and reported my first results to the official NaNoWriMo web site. My first day total was 1,706 words — more than the 1,667 average I will have to maintain through the month.

Then again, I probably won’t get much done tomorrow night, given the election.

The next voice you hear

I had planned to spend election night in the offices of Bedford County Election Commission, collecting results for the newspaper as they came in. This afternoon, however, I got a call from Keith Cook at our local AM radio stations, WLIJ and WZNG, asking if I would be available to co-anchor their election night coverage. My editor readily agreed, saying it would be good exposure for the newspaper, and so I’m going to do it.

I worked in radio from age 15 until I went to college, then at the campus radio station, and then for a year after college at a station in Wagoner, Okla. I always enjoy my little forays back to the radio business. I had a weekly talk show for a little while on WZNG, and I write and record the PSAs each year for our Nashville Symphony concert in Shelbyville. Election night should be fun.

By the way, I have started work on the novel. My plan is to post each day’s work late in the evening, before going to bed, so look for it then.

T minus one

On Monday, I — like thousands of others nationwide — will begin my quixotic attempt to write a 50,000 word novel as part of National Novel Writing Month. If you’re not a writer, trust me — this is an ambitious goal, and any novel produced in 30 days is going to be pretty ragged. But the exercise is meant to promote good work habits. Too many writers, and I am chief among them, wait so long for the perfect idea that we don’t write, and writing is how you get to the perfect idea.

So the novel I write (or try to write) during November is not likely to be very good, at least in this original form. But it could be fun. At the suggestion of the fine folks at Blogger (which is where I found out about NaNoWriMo to begin with), I’m going to be posting my novel to a special blog as I go along. This is an unusual step for a writer; most of us are jealous of our works in progress. But the fact that this is an admittedly-bad novel makes it kind of fun to share.

Anyhoo, the novel will be at [invalid URL edited]. Stop by next week, check it out, and hold your nose while you leave encouraging comments.

I have no idea whether I will make 50,000 words, or even if I will make it to the end of the month. But I think it’s a good idea for me to try. There’s been so much going on in my life in the past few months — work, missions, personal relationships, finances and what have you — that maybe it will be cathartic in a general sense for me to create some fiction. And it will be fiction. There will be a small-town setting, and some ideas drawn from personal experience, but this won’t be very autobiographical, and I’m determined not to base any of the characters too closely on any one person.

A novel approach

Against my better judgement, it now looks like I am going to participate in “National Novel Writing Month,” which I blogged about here the other day. I’ve been really stressed-out and frustrated lately, and I think a good creative writing project may be just the thing to bring me out of my funk.

Did I say “a good creative writing project”? Scratch that. NaNoWriMo (their abbreviation, not mine) stresses quantity over quality. The idea is to give your internal censor the month off and focus on disciplined work habits and just being creative — and if what you produce is lousy, who the heck cares? Maybe it will jump start you towards something else.

To this end, I am going to post my novel as I go along, to a new blog I’ve set up for that purpose. I’ll give you the details closer to Nov. 1. It should be good for a laugh, if nothing else.

Under the rules of NaNoWriMo, I cannot begin actual writing until Nov. 1, but I can work on an outline and other preparation. I have a basic concept now and will be fleshing it out a little bit between now and the first. My last fiction project, a never-completed novel, was about Jesus’ disciples during the period between the crucifixion and the resurrection. Part of the reason I was never happy with that piece was that I didn’t feel up to that kind of historical fiction. This novel will be much closer to home — a work of fiction, certainly, but with settings and situations much more familiar to me.

Stay tuned.

Write a novel in 30 days

National Novel Writing Month is a cheerful program designed to get would-be creative writers off our assets and onto the keyboard. Participants register at the program’s web site and then try to start and finish a novel (actually, their minimum length would qualify as a novella) during November. The organizers happily admit that such a hastily-written novel may not be very good; that’s not the point. The point is to prime the pump, so to speak, by giving writers a hard and fast deadline and forcing them to create.

Writers may share their work with others but don’t have to — it’s not a contest. You can submit your work to the web site to be counted, but they won’t actually read it. You retain all rights (and if you want to revise and improve your work after the month is over, that’s up to you).

I found out about the project through Blogger, which is encouraging participants to create their novels online by posting them to a blog as they progress. That’s just a suggestion, however.

It’s an intriguing idea.