Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Day 87 - The Crap That Gets Published These Days

Ask yourself always: How can this be done better?
- G.C. Lichtenberg

I think when people complain about the lack of standards in publishers today what they are really complaining about is the unrelenting tide of mediocrity that faces them every time they walk into a bookstore.

Despite what I've said loudly and repeatedly about Matthew Riley, none of the books that you will see in your average bookstore are actually crap. Think of publishing as an iceberg, and the mediocre stuff you see is the ice bobbing just on the waterline.

Don't believe me? Take a peek below the surface! ^_^

What we really want isn't fiction that meets the minimum bar. We want better fiction. And that's what I believe we should be constantly striving for as writers.

Don't read a novel and say "I could do that". Read and say "I know what would me even more awesome than that!" Even if your proclaimed ambition is to be a hack, write the most adventurous, romantic, melodramatic pulp fiction you can. Always aim to raise the bar, not just meet it.

At the very least, it will make it harder for your kids to show you up in 20 years.

Word count - 1,889

**EDIT - Oh God. I'd never actually READ a Fan Fiction Friday on Topless Robot. My apologies for anyone harmed by that link. It has been replaced with something less evil.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Day 86 - Twitter Popularity and #AskAgent

I love Twitter the same way Twitter loves words - in short, precise bursts. When the Australian Open finished, I was sad that I wouldn't get to tweet on the #AusOpen hashtag anymore. When Masterchef finished, I may have shed a tear or so at the people I had spent half an hour with every night mocking people who can't make a basic cake, ffs, but can make a three-course designer meal.

Recently I discovered #AskAgent - it's an excellent resource for up and coming writers who are curious about how Agents work. Yesterday I learned:

- It doesn't matter when agents go on holiday, because if you're on the slush pile it doesn't matter when you get there, they still aren't jumping over themselves to read you.

- It is better, if possible, to have the one agent who can handle both genres your write in.

- For the love of all that is holy, DON'T self-publish, submit the MS to an agent and only tell them it's already been self-published after you get a contract.

- Most agents don't really care what you write about, as long as it's really well written.

I've also managed to come up with a formula for how to calculate popularity on Twitter. It's simple, you take the number of people following you and divide it by the number of people you're following.

I'll admit I haven't applied it universally, but using this method I have a popularity of 0.60 whereas Step-hen Free (or Stephen Fry as he is known in the current timeline) has a popularity of 37.6 - that seems about right to me! ^_^

Word count - 2, 534

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 85 - Amazon Studios Flatters Frey's Novel Factory

Well, they do say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?

Amazon, deciding that it shouldn't just be for conmen to screw over overly-enthusiastic and desperate creative types, has come up with its own version that doesn't stop at writers but encompasses wannabe film-makers, actors and animators.

Basically, it's a free contest. The prize money is, for most of us average people, a lot of money. You put your work on the site, people read it, edit it (getting a co-writer credit in the process) and, hopefully, a director likes it enough to make an entire test movie. Then it goes through a competition process, and if it wins you get something.

Otherwise? I hope you didn't want all those rights you just signed away.

If you are considering putting something up on Amazon Studios, I would really urge you to go and read the Development Agreement very carefully.

The problems, as I see it, are these:

1) Amazon state outright they don't hold with any of that union/guild minimum pay nonsense.

2) If you write a script and it wins, the money is split between you and anyone else who edited it. An unlimited number of people can edit your work.

3) If you make revisions to someone else's script, you retain absolutely no rights to any of the content you provided - however point 2 is a good thing for you.

This last point is important.

4) The entire of clause 6 - 'Grant of Rights from You to Amazon' - made me die a little inside. You are agreeing to give Amazon a 'worldwide, royalty-free, non-terminable, sub-licensable, transferable right' to:

...copy, use, edit, add to, modify and otherwise alter any Original Property you contribute to Amazon Studios and to create, develop and produce derivative works based on the Original Property on and off of Amazon Studios in the form of treatments, screenplays, writer's pitches, trailers, videos and other written, audio or audiovisual works...

That's right. They can take your idea and do whatever they want with it. Also? Even after the 18 month exclusive window you give them, they can still use whatever original material you put up to, for example, put out a novelization of your script. And you don't get a penny unless they choose to exercise their option. Which they don't have to.

Because why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?

Word count - 3,286

PS - Thanks to Scott Meyers at Go Into The Story for his post on this.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 84 - Tired of being the Tortoise

I have a five year plan. I work towards it every day - more or less.

But dammit, I don't want to take five years! I want it now!

I don't want to worry about my contract being renewed, I don't want to worry about what kind of menial, boring job I'm going to have to take next to keep the money coming in.

I want to write for a living. I want to BE a writer by occupation.

Slow and steady sucks.

Word count - 3,112

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 82 - Meh meh meh

I had a bit of a crappy day. I was told that not only didn't I get the job I applied for, I didn't even get an interview. That doesn't happen to me very often (Yes, I know, I'm spoilt - but I'm bloody good at my job). I saw a lot more red than I would have liked in my edit - and gave it to a friend who fixed the scene in a matter of minutes, making it look more polished than I ever could.

So I decided "stuff it" and gave up on being productive and had a sleep instead.

Word count - 0

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 81 - Weeds Everywhere.

Today was my second day off work, and I had planned to use the whole day to write. I sat down at my desk, looked at the computer and just about cried. I couldn't do it.

So I got up, did some washing up, took my two-year-old out with me to weed the garden - (sidenote) he looked so cute wearing one of my gardening gloves on one hand, running around and clutching prickly plant bits yelling "Look at me Mummy! I'm running with the weed!"; a phrase that I'm almost certain he'll need to repeat in College (end sidenote) - and then played Assassin's Creed and had a nap.

It was a really nice day, AND I still got my usual writing time in over the course of the evening!

Just one more thing - how fricking awesome is this??

Steampunk Laptop from Datamancer

Word count - 4,301

Day 80 - I Did It!

I hit the 50K! Technically, I've won NaNo!

(Why is there always a however?!?)
... I still haven't quite finished the story yet. That's the next step.

I had today off work, which is how I managed to have such a good day. I'm hoping to make a similar number tomorrow on my second day off. Onwards and upwards!

But for right now, I'm going to go reward myself with some Assassin's Creed ^_^

Word count - 10, 957

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 79 - The Missing Day

Somehow I've managed to misplace a day.

Today, Monday 22 November, should be Day 80 as far as I can work out but my blog is only up to Day 79. I'm reasonably certain I only misplaced it recently - the maths was all sound up until the beginning of this month.

So I've added up everything I've written in the past few months, subtracted the total in the sidebar on my blog and the missing day's word count was 1,912.

Ah, order at last! Take that, chaos!

Word count - 1,912

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 78 - 'My Dangerous Duke' by Gaelen Foley

I should say up front that I normally read sweet romances. As much as I support people's right to talk about their character's throbbing manhood it's not usually the kind of thing I want to read about. I like the story, the growing affection and tension between two characters who are falling madly in love with one another.

So when I picked this up, I thought it was a sweet romance. You might ask, as did my husband, "Julia, how did you manage to miss the prominent quote from Publishers Weekly on the front stating the book was exceptionally sexy?"
Good question.
But I did miss it, and I'm glad I did.

My Dangerous Duke is a really good story.  It follows Kate Masden, if that is her real name, as she is kidnapped and given as a gift to a cursed Duke with a dark reputation. Managing to convince him that she is not a local girl with ambitions to become a famous courtesan, she and Rohan, Duke of Warrington and assassin for the notorious Inferno Club, attempt to solve the mysteries of Kate's birth, upbringing and capture.

I really liked the characters and in particular the dynamic between Kate and Rohan. The tension between them is tight right from the beginning of the novel and continues well. I especially liked that they were not afraid to talk about things openly - at times when I thought there would be a comedy of errors that would leave me cringing Foley surprised me by averting it through a well-timed conversation.
Bliss! Two characters who listen to each other's explanations!
I also loved how Rohan, a cold-blooded killer doomed by his bloodline, was handled. There was no watering down of what he did as part of his occupation, and Kate's acceptance of him as he was seemed to flow naturally from her growing feelings for him.

The pacing works well for most of the book, and I can't say much about the level of sensuality because I tend to skim sex scenes just to make sure I'm not missing any plot (Seriously, authors, don't do that! Who talks about the people trying to kill them while they're in the middle of coitus?). They only thing I will say was that I felt their change of heart over whether to have a physical relationship or not was a bit forced. The reasons not to didn't seem that important in the first place, and I couldn't really see what had changed to allow it when they did fall into the sack.

The ending of the book - and I won't give away anything here - was extremely unusual, and I liked that about it. Personally, I felt it lacked something, but I really, really appreciated what she was attempting to do.

All in all, a fun read and I'm looking forward to reading the others in the same series.

(By the way - I should also mention that the cover art on my copy is superior to, and less revealing than, the cover art on Gaelen Foley's website - it has convinced me that if I am ever published I am willing to settle for a smaller advance if they are willing to put in the contract that Blacksheep do the cover art. Go check out their publishing portfolio - pretty!)

Word count - 3,165

Day 77 - Finishing the Draft

I read a quote the other day from Stephen King who said that you should always attempt to fiinish the first draft of your novel within three months, because otherwise it begins to feel like a foreign land. I know he's talking about the concept of immersion, but to me it was a bit of a prod.

You need to strike while the iron is hot. You are interested in this story now, but if you keep putting it off and putting it off how long will it be before you get bored of the whole thing and move on to writing the first draft of that AWESOME idea you had last night?

Just the same as you can't edit a blank page, you have to finish a first draft to have a second. That's my goal for Novemeber. I've won NaNo twice now - 50,000 words each time but not a completed draft in sight. This year my goal is to finish my first draft. I think my goal will then be to do my very first second draft, but let's take it a step at a time, yes? ^_^

Word count - 2,723

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 76 - First Among Sequels by Jasper Fforde

For years I had thought that the wonderful, innovative, awe-inspiring Thursday Next series ended with Something Rotten, with the action culminating with the thrilling croquet match that saved the world as they know it.

You can not imagine how incredibly ecstatic I was to find out about First Among Sequels. My husband works in a book store and I made him get it for me the day he first mentioned it to me. So as you can see, my expectations were quite high when it came to actually reading the book.

Thursday is still the same, multi-layered character I've loved from the beginning, and the literary references, bizarre happenings and distorted tableaus of everyday life in the world of a mother, wife, cheese-smuggler and jurisfiction agent came fast and furious.

The only problem I had was that parts of the plot seemed a little stilted. It might even be that when I read the first one I found BookWorld, jurisfiction and the like all so bewildering that I was swept along so fast I missed clues, but this time I noticed all the foreshadowing and was able to quiet often guess what was going down. But this was not a real problem and it was still the same familiar world I'd missed.

If you haven't read this series, you're doing yourself a disfavour - go find The Jane Eyre Affair immediately. It's unashamedly snobbish in its literary references, and the more you've read the funnier the series is, but the plots are excellent even without that layer. An excellent read.

Word count - 837

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 75 - Octavian Nothing: Volume 1 by MT Anderson

I often wonder where the line gets drawn between adult and young adult fiction. The Pox Party, the first volume of the Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing pretends the line doesn't exist. Set in Boston during the Revolutionary War, it is a dark novel that plays on the notions of freedom, identity, race and philosophy.

In 2006 it won the National Book Award for Young People. In one of the early chapters it is mentioned how cats are thrown from increasingly high distances to see how far they can fall before they no longer land on their feet. In 2007 it was an honour mention in the Printz award for excellence in young adult fiction. In one scene the young Octavian watches as a man is tarred, feathered and beaten repeatedly until he screams incoherently.

The tension starts quite early in the book. Like a good horror film, even when people appear to be living completely normal lives we feel the twinge of fear at the looming catastrophe. It is unrelenting in some ways, because even when the last issue is resolved, you can see the malevolent shadow of another on the horizon.

I would strongly recommend this book to everyone. As with And Tango Makes Three, I think adults (or people with more mature life perspectives) will get more out of this than your average teen, but it is a cracking good read no matter what age you are. I can't wait to buy the second volume.

Word count - 0

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 74 - Or am I just jealous?

I posted that horrible contract, read with a growing righteous fury the offer he was making to these graduates - and then started to wonder what I would do.

Was I really appalled? Or was I jealous?

These people get a shot I won't get. They get a published author (even if it is a douchebag published author) as a mentor. If they write something worthwhile, it will get shown to a publisher who is interested already.

Is it really so much to ask? To say "In return for giving you your big break, I expect to get all the credit and most of the cash"?

Personally, my answer has to be - yes, it is too much to ask. It is too much to ask that I allow you a parasitic existence while I work my butt off with no guarantee of anything except a chance. It is too much to ask that if I work hard, you reap the benefits.

What would you do?

Word count - 1,201

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 73 - The Contract From Hell

Hey, aspiring writers! Wanna know what a crap contract looks like?


I'm semi-admiring of the way Frey is unabashedly evil. As a once-was-law-student, I found clause 15 the most amusing. Forget the fact that you only get paid $125 up front, with another $125 when your manuscript is complete and the company owns your work for the rest of time, clause 15 says even if they break the contract, there is nothing you can do about it - you can't even end the contract.

On the other hand, if you stuff up, or even look like you might stuff up, they can get an order from the court forcing you to complete the contract EVEN if they can't show that your considered inaction would cause a loss to the company.

Of course, I know buckleys about US law, but in Australia I am reasonably certain several of those clauses would not stand up in court. 15.3, for example.

But what I am certain of is this - if you sign that contract, you have almost no legal leg to stand on.

Please, aspiring authors, show your contract to a good lawyer first. Or your local authors association.

We all want the dream - a published book. But wouldn't you like to reap the rewards for your hard work as well?

Word count - 3,142

Day 72 - 'And Tango Makes Three' by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

I had to order this book in, but I had read so many reviews of how wonderful it was that I didn't hesitate to do so.

My first thought when I opened it to the first page was one of dread. TMFW! I hate picture books that feel they have to drown themselves in a sea of text. But it cleared up within a few pages and it was clear sailing from there.

As a child's picture book, it is a nice story. Marcus, my two year old, likes penguins.

But as an adult, I got a lot more out of it. A two year old can't read a homosexual relationship into what is, on its face, two affectionate penguins who live in the same nest. A two year old can't extrapolate outwards from the simple story of two boy penguins who want an egg and comprehend the overwhelming sadness that same sex couples who want a child must experience.

To me, the scene where the two penguins try to hatch a rock because they see all the other penguins with their eggs was filled with pathos. Marcus just said wisely "They don't have a Mummy. They need a Mummy to give them a baby." To him it was a simple matter, a logic problem.

In the end, I liked the book more than he did. He couldn't read it as a parable, which is why he couldn't understand why Mummy cried a little at the simple beauty of the final page.

Word count - 1,260

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Day 71 - A Minor Taste of Victory

Today I broke the 100,000 word mark.

That's 10% of my goal to write 1,000,000 words in a year completed. That's 100,000 words I have written since September 4 this year. It's 100,000 words I wouldn't have written in the entirety of this year if I hadn't got my act together and undertaken this challenge.

After a week of rejection, this is particularly sweet. I didn't make the STALI finals (though my sincere congratulations to those who did!) and I got turned down by two jobs I applied for. It's enough to make anyone a little down. The funny thing is, if you keep writing, you keep finding more and more opportunities.

So I didn't get what I want this week. I'm making progress, steady progress, towards my goal. And that is definitely a taste of victory in itself.

Word count - 6,868

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 70 - Handwriting v Typing

When I go out to write in public, more often than not I have to use a notepad and pen. That's because I don't have a laptop. Except for the fact that handwriting is slower, I don't often find much difference between handwritting and typing. Other people swear that handwriting, solely by being the slower method, forces them to think more about what they're writing and results in a better draft.

What do you think? Do you prefer typing or handwritting?

Word count - 270

Friday, November 12, 2010

Day 69 - Tightrope Antics

All of life is a balancing act. Life and work and fun and writing are all trying to get a piece of the action and quite often you have to spend too much time on one thing to do justice to another. As a mother of a two-year-old with a full-time job and, you know, friends and a husband, I often feel like telling everyone to go jump off a cliff for half the day so I can get some damned writing done!

Doyce Testerman, who runs an excellent blog, just reminded us all that we are our own worst enemies. This part of his post in particular rang true for me: 
4. No one else gives a crap if you Finish.

No they don’t.

Not even him. Not her either. No one.

Not even me; I’m distracting you RIGHT NOW with this post.

You are the only person who cares about getting your story done, and the only way to make that happen is to viciously (perhaps anti-socially) defend the blocks of time you set up to write.
I struggle with feeling like a bitch when I tell people I can't hang out because I have to write. They don't seem to get that if I don't put the work in, this will never happen. Because there is no one else who can do it for me.

Simultaneously, your brain needs to recharge every now and then. Yay for Rock Band 3!

Word count - 299

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Day 68 - Trying to Buy the Wind

Working as a freelance writer, the first thing that struck me was the high importance non-writers placed on ideas - coupled with the low value that they placed on writing skill.

"I have a fantastic idea!" a prospective client might say. "It's a novel about... well, I can't go into that right now, it's a secret and if I tell you, you might steal it. But I'll give you $200 to write my novel, which will then go on to be published and make millions."

And this distribution of funds seemed perfectly fair to them, because it was their idea. They owned it. The countless hours of writing and editing - well, that's easy when you have a concept!

The principle that ideas are precious items that need to be guarded I find ridiculous. What I find pathetic is the people who wander around, saying "I had that idea first. I came up with the idea of an orphan going to wizard school. I'm going to sue!"

There is no new idea. There are only different ways of retelling the same old stories, using different characters and settings. Yes, you had a good idea. But did you use it? Whinging about how JK Rowling stole your fortune by writing her own book before you wrote yours (the cow!) might get you a couple of drinks at the pub, but wouldn't you have been better off actually writing your book?

I stole participated in the free exchange of ideas culture and acquired this from The Rejectionist's blog:

Word count - 3,624

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 67 - First Impressions

Your opening line should hook your reader straight away.
No slush reader ever reads past the first page.
How many times have you heard that? And yet some great published works still start so slowly you want to stand behind the author at their keyboard tapping your foot and looking at your watch pointedly. It took me three attempts to get past the first page of The Count of Monte Cristo, but I've read that book about 10 times now.

In contrast, I just read the first five pages of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson. The first line is:

I was raised in a gaunt house with a garden; my earliest recollections are of floating lights in the apple-trees.
Wow. Just wow.

The writing is amazing. It pulls you in and wraps you entirely in the time period, surrounding you with a sense of impending disaster and a creeping, overarching menace.

Of course, I'm only 5 pages in and I could be wrong, but I have the feeling this is going to be one of those books - the books that come along so very rarely that manage to enthral you without seemingly even trying. I'm looking forward to the next 346-odd pages.

Word count - 3,460

Day 66 - Failure

I had a very bad day. Yes, I should have worked through it. No, I shouldn't have gone to bed and just hugged my kitty (who I really think may be knocked up...)

So my new goal for the month is not more than 1 day with a zero wordcount!

Word count - 0

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Day 65 - The Good, Bad and Ugly of Libraries

I love to buy books. In fact, one thing I need the most is more bookshelves. I love being able to take down a book and look up sections I enjoyed to see exactly how they were handled, I like being able to look up quotes easily and I like being able to just re-read my favourite books whenever the hell I want.

So I don't often go to libraries, but when I do I'm always bowled over by the sheer scope of them. I spend my time flitting from one section to another going "Ooh! I could learn to play the guitar in three easy steps!" and "Fascinating! What exactly WAS the effect of trade on the downfall of the Ottoman Empire?"

Today our NaNo write-in was at a local library, and after realising that there was apparently a statute of limitations on overdue fees (or perhaps my parents returned the book when the cleared out their house - I have no idea) the library let me take out two non-fiction books on space travel aimed at the 10-13 market and a terrible, terrible novelisation of the TV series Crash Zone, which seems to be aimed at 12-15 year olds.

The ugly came in the form of a crazed religious fanatic who, overhearing our discussion on sex in romance novels, decided to come and favour us with a long and very loud lecture on our own immaturity, the importance of embracing Jesus and the sin of homosexuality. We're not even sure how he got on to that one, but we told him to get lost. Eventually he had to be booted by the library staff. So there's at least one nutjob who's ensured he's going to have a bit part in a couple of novels!

Weighing up crazy evangelicals against free books I wouldn't normally buy and good chairs and free Internet, I'd say on the whole libraries kick ass.

Word count - 4,196

Day 64 - Zzzzz...

After a full day of cleaning, cooking, reading to and playing with my 2-year-old, then hanging with my gaming group and writing when I had half a moment, I am so very, very exhausted.

I was reading a blog the other day that asked, if you had the choice, would you prefer to be a critically renowned yet poor novelist or a reasonably well paid and "popular" hack. I would pick hack any day of the week. After all, if I could write during the day, oh the extravagant bliss!, I could SLEEP at night. Or talk to my husband. That would be nice.

I'm thinking of taking Tom Cruise for my hero - my mantra will be "Show me the money!"

Word count - 1,081

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day 63 - Can't sleep. Scrivener will eat me.

I haven't slept in a really long time and it's all Scrivener's fault. They FINALLY released a Windows beta, and of course I had to download it.
"I won't use it," I said to myself. "I'll just get it on the computer so I can check it out tomorrow."

And then I fell in love.

Editing my complete mess of a first draft went from "Oh God" to exciting so quickly! I've been staying up working, but now if I don't get some sleep I may just pass out on my keyboard.

But the research binders! And the index card philosophy!

*sigh* Must. Sleep! It will be there another day...

Word count - 2,101

Day 62 - End of Month Two

I have to be up in about 5 hours, but I was only 900 words off the 80,000 mark so I kept going. As a matter of fact, if it weren't for the fact that I'd be stuffed at work tomorrow I'd be quite happy to just keep writing all night. When you get into the flow, you can just surf there as long as you want pretty much.

At least until something hits you.

It's the end of month two, and I've done marginally better this month. I achieved 3.51% in my first month, and that has increased to 4.49% in month two. This is still a fair way down from the 8.34% I need each month, but still, improvement is improvement and I'll take that as something of a win. As a matter of fact, it's a 27.9% increase in output. If I keep improving at that rate, I'll catch up in no time.

In any event, I now have 304 days left of my challenge with 920,000 words remaining. This equates to 3,026 words per day.

I think one of the major things holding me back is the sheer number of 0 count days. And there's really no excuse for it. I can do 1000 words easily in about 20 minutes to half an hour. The thing is, and this goes back to the editing versus careful drafting debates as well, is that if I say to myself - Oh, you must reach your whole target even if you're tired, I probably won't do anything at all and will watch TV instead.

I need to give myself permission to have mid-range and low word count days. In most cases, once I start writing I get in the zone and I'll probably keep going. But it's important that I get something down every day.

So my major goal for month three is to not have a single 0 word count day. My secondary goal is to lower my daily target back down to the original 2,739 words per day it was when I started.

Word count - 5,281

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Day 61 - The War of the Words

I'm continuously amazed how sometimes just sitting down and writing with the aim of telling a story that's only half-formed in your head can come up with some plot turns and twists that you had never anticipated.

For example - I was a little lost the other day. I was writing my young adult science fiction, and I felt like my voice was all wrong. My prose felt really stilted and even the dialogue (something I'm normally quite good at) was feeling forced and unnatural. Then suddenly I found myself writing from the perspective of her great-great-great grandmother at a modern day university trying to choose between a life on Earth and a never-ending mission to the stars. And then, because I'd mentioned her, I brought in a diary of hers later that has become a kind of important plot point.

In other new, I took part in three separate word wars today - two through NaNo and one through RWA and ended up with an excellent word count that makes me feel a lot better about myself after being so lazy yesterday!

I hope your NaNos are all going well! I love plot doctoring, so please feel free to ask me questions about what should happen next - that kind of stuff is awesome fun.

Word count - 5,963

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 60 - The Natives are Restless

We've only been lost in the novelling jungle for 2 days, and already it seems that some may be resorting to canibalism. Mostly I believe the troops are missing the home-style cooking of the NaNoWriMo forums, which have been attacked by a plague-like disease that threatens civilisation as we know it.

Am hoping to hit a path through to the mainland soon. The natives of NaNo Land line the shores and look at us, their eyes hinting at secrets I dare not guess.

Please, tell Mary I love her.

The drums! The drums!

Word count - 0

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 59 - All for One, and One for All!

There's something really inspiring about writing with other people. I've done several word sprints today, where another writer challenges you to something of a race. You type for half an hour or an hour (or whatever) and then compare word counts. You win some, you lose some, but you always get a lot of writing done.

It helps if you, like me, are competitive by nature. I can't play poker for fake money, I can't play badminton if no-one is keeping score. To strive, to achieve, to excel - all of these things require a form of measurement by which to judge your progress and success. To do something 'just for fun' with no end goal is something completely foreign to my mind, and something I struggle with as more and more of the world seems to be moving that way.

Even NaNoWriMo is a competition. I'm competing against myself, measured in word count.

Image from Sport.yahoo.com

I was thinking that what we need is an Olympic sport of writing. It would be scored similar to diving or gymnastics. You would have a certain time limit, and the amount of words you wrote would constitute your "difficulty", so to speak. It's harder to write an excellent 10,000 word story in an hour than it is a poem. Then the content counts towards the execution scoring phase. There would be a panel of judges, all holding up little placards with scores on them.

NB. This is in no way a cheap way to give myself even a fighting chance of getting in the Olympics. Nope. Really. I promise.

Word count - 3,860

Day 58 - Like Minds

Today I spent four and a half hours talking to a whole bunch of writers. I love that no matter who you are, how old you are, what your background is, when you meet another writer it is almost ludicrously easy to find things to talk about.

Mostly I think this is because writers are interested in the world around them. They read a lot. They watch movies and TV series - maybe even if just to judge the quality of the scriptwriting. They have opinions.

This goes back to what I was saying before about the difficulty of making choices. Writers are an opinionated lot because they have conditioned themselves to make those choices. Love Austen? Hate Austen? Writers generally have an opinion. We're not a group of fence-sitters in general.

To be honest, I was a bit nervous at the beginning that the kick-off party was going to fall flat. I shouldn't have worried. When you're dealing with intelligent, funny people who analyse the world around them for material and aren't afraid to make themselves heard you're always going to have some sort of interesting time! ^_^

Word count - 2,551