Midway

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Yesterday I hit 50% on my NaNo novel “Counterfeit Horizon”. This last week has been a challenge with some real difficulty and lower word counts that I should have allowed. I think there are a number of reasons for this, but ultimately, I’ve discovered a singular solution that takes care of them all.

The first week of NaNo went pretty darn well if I do say so myself. I had an outline and some of the most detailed character sketches I’ve ever made. The plot had a road map, which, when I gave it thought, gave me a great satellite view of the story landscape. Character A started the story there and Character B began just over the horizon. The trick, at that point in the story writing process seemed to be introducing these great people I had made up and then sending them along on their journey through the story.

I had worked quite a bit of that introduction out in my head seemingly. The second week rolled over and I struggled to connect the dots. The map I had lacked detail and so every time I sat down to pound out my words I struggled to peer into the future for each character. Honestly, I started to wish I had undertaken a fantasy novel, because writing Vera kiteboarding through the Caribbean or getting Frank out of the subway tunnel without killing him would have been much easier had I been able to wave my magic wand.

After struggling mightily all of yesterday (about 400 words in a pile of hours) it occurred to me that I was starting to hate one of my protagonists, and not in a good way. He is a mixed bag of character attributes, and unlike most protagonists, he starts from the bottom and works his way up. Throughout the story the means have to justify the ends for him, which means he needs to do bad things and then feel like he has been successful.

But then, after wasting time doing battle in the plains of Azeroth, the problem became plain to me. Writing Frank had become a chore. Writing these people was turning into a chore, and I needed a way to make it fun again. Instantly, a lot of the blocks fell into place. Frank became Bad MacGyver in my mind’s eye. You are going to love to read him because he creates these huge messes and then, despite his sociopathic tendencies maintains manages to cobble together a solution (at least for himself) out of paper towels, bubble gum, and duct tape. That is some fun shit to write.

Vera, she has a traveling problem. Every time the least little thing bothers her, she takes off. ANd with the amazing technology of the future at her finger tips she can leverage these toys to travel very, very far. But hey, guess what, running away from your problems seldom solves them.

Helena is a repressed stress junkie. She is smart and a proven innovator who has become increasingly ok operating on her own, but she feels compelled to solve everyone else’s problems. Little does she realize, but this leaves her exposed and we catch her when she starting to fall apart at the seams.

And then there is Aashif, who meticulously plans everything. He wants desperately to get ahead and the drum in his soul beats out a project management cadence. Unfortunately for him, he lacks the insight necessary to deal with contingency. His plans are doomed to fail and when they do, watch out. Aashif will become the savage beast.

I’ve got to figure out a way to have fun writing each one of these people. Its critical for me as the story teller. When I do, the words just sort of pour out of me (I did nearly 2k last night in about three hours).

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Committing an Act of Fiction

Aral and I have spent the last couple of days ensconced at my parent’s ranch atop the Uncompahgre plateau here in Western Colorado. I’ve been sneaking in as many words as I can manage after tucking the little guy into bed, but fatigue and other duties have kept my word count pretty low.

My folks were on a short vacation to visit one of my brothers and his family. The two of them returned late yesterday evening and today they loaded up Aral and set out for adventures aplenty down in the valley. In the elapsed time I’ve already exceeded my word count for the last couple of days so a huge and heart felt thank you is in order.

Recently I found that the single most difficult challenge to my success as a writer has been a lack of time. However, committing acts of fiction seemingly does not require that I block out big chunks of uninterrupted time. Rather I seem to be most effective when I can drop what I’m doing as soon as the next bit of the story enters my head.

I may try and work out how to effectively make voice recordings on my phone so that I can extend the time between trips to the laptop by using a vocal short hand to jot down these little story building blocks that occur to me throughout the day. But, as making a small lunch just confirmed, little tasks away from the laptop can result in huge story gains if I can take the time to write them down when they happen.

Complications

Ugh! Woke up this morning with sinus pressure and a headache. Ate a little breakfast and then plunged headlong into laundry and dishes. Right now the little one and the wife are snuggled up on the couch watching Wall-E and I’m sipping the dregs out of this cup of Joe.

Yesterday I wrote the start of a chapter in Counterfeit Horizon entitled Florida. Vera Maahai is preparing to leave depart from a beach near Nassau in the Bahamas. She’s already kite boarded some 1500 kilometers and change following the islands that litter the eastern Gulf and she is preparing to slip through the security cordon that surrounds the United States.

Right now I’ve got the next segment of the story held in buffer, but with the sinus pressure in my head I’m having read issues. This blog post is more an attempt to reset the system before I start trying to commit the story to paper.

First NaNo Mistake

Last night I went to the midnight write-in for my region. I left the house both emotionally and physically drained so it was little wonder that as soon as I found parking I went searching for a big, steaming cup of coffee. Despite the fact that it was already late, I drank and drank cup after cup.

The write-in was hosted at a local coworking spot which closed long before we showed up. There I continued to drink the java rationalizing that I needed it to stay awake so I could write at midnight. The joint was chilled, and I did nothing but complicate my own problems with nearly two liters of caffeine enriched diuretic bean juice. I was cold to the bone. To Build a Fire cold. Freaking cold despite a layer of wool and an insulating shell over that.

I wrote about 1,000 words fighting of my self inflected hypothermia and regretting my stupidity after the clock struck midnight. I made it until about one in the morning before I felt the first precarious dip in my chemical stimulation. I packed up everything as quickly as I could and made a bee line to my truck. A quick jog around the block helped keep me awake until I pulled into the drive moments later and then my body felt leaden and unusable. Bonking hardcore I crawled under the covers.

And then I stared at the dark ceiling for what seemed an eternity unable to find sleep.

Now I’m up, dressed, and sipping herbal tea. I’m seated at the Rec Center trying desperately to clear my system of last night’s abuses and reading what I banged out on Counterfeit Horizon. Yikes! Talk about crashing the plane before it leaves the tarmac, this is some scary stuff.

Next time, I think I’ll act my age, stick to my patterns, and respect my habits. That was a mistake. Derp derp derp.

NaNo Jitters

I just got back from my first NaNoWriMo kick-off meeting. It was interesting and fun to be in the same room with all those other authors. The pent up creative juice was threatening to spill over the walls and I’m currently writing this blog post because if I don’t I’ll start on my novel.

Counterfeit Horizon┬áis mostly outlined and when I open up the file that organizes all the character sketches and plot information I should not feel these butterflies in my stomach. But they are there nonetheless. It feels in some ways much like starting-line sickness I’ve gotten waiting behind some arbitrary line right before the starting gun signals the go.

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I am ready for this. This story will be entertaining and compelling. You will all love the good guys and love to hate the bad guys. And even if you don’t, once its been through editing, you’ll buy a Kindle copy out of pity and because its cheaper than putting loose change in my cup on the corner.

So I’m going to hit the hay for the night, tomorrow I’m going to go back through the outline one more time. I’m going to sleep like a stone, even though there may be snow on the way, because I am the man with a plan. I can trust my planning ability. Today I am on the safe side of the starting line, but soon I will be marking progress with that shuffle-step-stride toward my first novel length story.