Did you read my novel?

I recently posted my Nanowrimo novel for any and all to read. I’m curious if anyone did. I know one friend did, and I know more people downloaded it. And it hasn’t been that long – if you had posted your Nanowrimo novel, I probably wouldn’t have read it yet, either. But I’m curious if anyone has read it, or at least started it, and has anything to say about it. Constructive criticism is preferred, although vitriolic rants on my incompetence as a writer are always welcome. The friend who read it asked if I had read it since November ended. I told him I hadn’t, and he said it would probably be a good idea if I did. It is a rough draft, after all. And as is my Nano usual, the story changed from my original plans as I wrote it, so some of the early stuff might not fit with the later stuff. I’m not sure if I want to keep working on it. I’d love to publish something one day, but I don’t really know if this is the one to try with or not.

Monuments to Nothing – My 2008 Nanowrimo novel

So here is my 2008 Nanowrimo novel, Monuments to Nothing. It is shared here under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License. That means you can read it, share it with your friends, write a sequel to it, edit it, write fan fiction about my characters, or ignore it. If it is possible that you are my Christmas secret stocking person, you should not read it yet. You may not present it as your own, share it without giving me credit, share it or derivative works under a more restrictive license, or use it commercially. Unless you ask me and I say it’s okay. The story has a little bit of sex, violence, and profanity. Nothing really crazy, but I feel I should warn people. Enjoy.

Nanowrimo is over for me

Originally uploaded by thetejon

I hit 50,000 words this afternoon. I kind of like the story. It’s not my favorite, but after the last two years of utter garbage, this one is fantastic by comparison. I plan to post it here eventually, but I kind of want to take a break from it, at least until tomorrow, so you’ll have to wait if you want to read it. As you see in the picture, I didn’t get out of all my parent duties this month. The wife went above and beyond in helping me make time for writing, although she complained a bit. I am indebted to her for a while now. I couldn’t have come close to 50,000 if she hadn’t helped, and I am very grateful, even though she doesn’t believe me when I tell her. I wrote a lot today with the kid in either the Moby wrap pictured, or in her Lascal M1 Carrier after we went for a walk when she wouldn’t take a nap this afternoon. I like the M1 better for carrying her for a while because it distributes the weight better, but it’s harder to sit down wearing it, so if I hope to come home from the walk and have her stay asleep, the Moby is better. I should get back to posting regularly now that I don’t have a novel to write.

What a glorious world we live in

No, not the election yesterday, though that certainly was glorious. I don’t have time to do justice to the election, so I will just say that I have never seen people dancing in the streets over a President, and I’m looking forward to the coming years. The glorious thing I’m talking about is the search box in Firefox 3. I was making a dumb joke in my novel about Keira Knightley. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t know how to spell her name. So I went to the search box with its awesome autocomplete. By the time I had typed “kie”, which is not how you spell her name, the first result was her name, spelled correctly. Now, keep in mind, I didn’t actually perform the search, I just looked at the suggestions that Firefox gives for what I might want to search for. Actually, I did do the search, but just to verify that I had the correct spelling. I did. Can you imagine this sort of information so readily available even five years ago? Sure, it wouldn’t have been hard for me to find out how to spell her name. But the only way it would have been easier this time is if the Open Office standard dictionary was hooked up to some online dictionary that was constantly updated. So maybe someone should get on that.

Real authors doing Novel Writing Month

One of my favorite authors, Charles Stross, is going to do Novel Writing Month this year. Stross’ Iron Sunrise is one of my favorite books, and those of you paying attention know that I’ve met him over delicious beers at the Brickskeller. I know Nanowrimo is not quite the same for someone who makes a living writing novels as it is for someone who just wishes he had the motivation and dedication to make a living writing novels (You’ll notice I don’t say I lack the skill – I have the skill until I prove otherwise). But it’s cool to be writing along with someone who writes really cool stuff, who is successful doing professionally something that I do now and then as an amateur. Now I just have to figure out how to get my daughter to sleep for a few hours in the evening so I can actually write my 50,000 words.

Not just for chicks, this thing is going to save me

Despite the implication from the website that it’s for women only, our Moby Wrap is maybe going to save my November. This is my seventh National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve only failed to finish once. But I was afraid I was doomed to failure this year. It’s one thing for the wife to roll her eyes and go about her business while I write, but it’s quite another for me to say, “Sweetheart, will you take care of the kid for a little longer while I write my yearly novel?” They’re home together all day, and I know the wife looks forward to being able to move around on her own for a bit when I get back. But with the Moby, I can write AND watch my daughter. In fact, I’m doing it right now while the wife is out running an errand. I’m sitting here, typing away, while the kid is sleeping happily in her Moby. It has taken a little getting used to – it slightly hard to sit and type while wearing it. But it sure beats listening to the kid scream, or dumping all parenting responsibilities on the wife. And everyone says wearing your baby is great bonding, although I’m not sure how useful it is if she’s just asleep the whole time. Note to Moby Wrap – put a guy on your front page! It’s already hard enough to overcome parent/gender stereotypes without you pitching in to reinforce them. These things are great for fathers, too. And not just because women think that guys wearing their children are sexy (Trust me, I’ve walked through Dupont and Adams Morgan wearing her, and I’ve never gotten so much attention from women in my life). Wearing your children is great for you, too. It keeps your hands free AND puts the kid to sleep. That means you can drink a beer and watch the game and still be a good dad. And if your wife is like mine, the more you watch the kid, the more she cooks and cleans. Everyone wins!

Nanowrimo is coming

It’s almost that time of year again. National Novel Writing Month is only a few weeks away. They’re celebrating their 10th year of Nano, while I’m celebrating my seventh. It’s hard to believe this is my seventh. It’s not hard to believe that I’ve never truly finished any of the “novels” I wrote during November. Maybe when the kid goes off to college. It will be very hard to hit 50,000 words this year. Having a 7-10 week old daughter in the house will no doubt cut into my novel writing time, and having a job that actually expects me to do something productive doesn’t help, either. Plus I’d kind of like to spend time with my wife now and then. I have two ideas I’m kicking around. One I’ve been thinking about for a couple years now, and one I just thought of recently. I’m leaning towards the more recent idea, because I’m afraid I won’t finish this year, and I don’t want to “waste” the more developed idea. But the newer idea still needs a second and third act, which makes things a little difficult. Just looking at the freshly updated Nano website and thinking about entering my first word count of 2008 gives me goosebumps. If you’ve never tried it, go read about what it is and how it works. In short, you will be writing a 50,000 word novel from November 1st to November 30th. Yes, this is hard. No, this is not impossible. Yes, it is incredibly rewarding (and addicting). Yes, most people you know will think you’re a little weird. But if I could only share with you the elation I felt when I first hit the word count button in my word processor back on November 27th, 2002, and it said, “50,000” for the first time, you would be totally sold. Feel free to leave me a comment or email me at jon at complaint hub dot com if you have questions about Nano, or contact me through the Nano site if you’re a participant.

National Novel Writing Month is nearly upon us

National Novel Writing Month

So, signups for Nano opened sometime late last night.  For those who don’t know, Nano was started by a group of friends in San Fransisco who thought it would be cool to each write a 50,000 word novel in a month.  To put that in perspective, the average novel is about 120,000 words.  The point has been made that it might be better to call it Novella Writing Month (And it’s international, as well), but those people have been made to sit in a corner in shame and think about what they’ve done.

The first year, I think about 20 people did it.  This year, they expect 75,000.  It’s all on the honor system.  I’m sure people cheat, but since you don’t really win anything, it’s like cheating at solitaire.  I’ve never cheated.  I finished in 2002, 2003, failed in 2004, and finished in 2005.  It’s really amazing the first time you win (And pretty cool the other times).  In 2002, I finished the 50,000th word of “The Dance of the Ducks” at about 10PM on November 29th.  I rushed to Kinkos to print it out, but they were CLOSED.  Lights on, doors locked.  Oh, was I salty.  I’ve harbored a bit of a grudge towards Kinkos ever since.

In 2003, I finished “Love in Black and White” on the 27th.  I’m still working on LIBW.  It’s up to maybe 75,000 words now (I write a bit every 6-8 months, it seems).  It’s my favorite of the three, and the best prospect to be published should I ever finish it.

In 2004, I wrote about 450 words and didn’t get any further.

“The Dance of the Ducks” was a story about a man tormented by personal demons that manifest themselves as almost-real ducks.  Then he becomes the hero and saves the girl and banishes the ducks.  In 2005, I wrote “The Dance of the Ducks II – In the Land of the Ducks”.  It’s something of a continuation of DotD I, except from the perspective of the ducks.  It was the least serious (by far) of the three.

Anyway, it’s a lot of fun.  As it gets more popular, it gets harder to find the people who are really into it because they tend to be obscured on the forums by forum-junkies who have 4000 posts in the Off-Topic forums in November, and only 3000 words in their novel.  I’m not bitter, though.

So, you should all try it.  It’s really a rush, the first time you hit the word count button and it says “50,000”.  And I had never written 50,000 words before my first Nano.  My longest story was about 20,000 words prior to DotD.  I expect I will be doing something here to track my progress so you all can yell at me if I fall behind.