So I changed plans (again). As a result of falling sick the week before Thanksgiving and the usual holiday madness, I fell significantly behind on getting my last story done. Even more difficult, though I made some progress in discovering what my planned story was about, I still didn’t have an actual plot, or a main character. That’s no way to operate when you’re under pressure for NaNoWriMo.

So I moved the goal posts again, and pulled out one of my unfinished drafts, this time for a story called George and Mr. Drake (an adaptation of the legend of St. George and the Dragon). And I got it finished! So now I’ve met my goal of finishing four short story first drafts.

Throws a little party.

I didn’t meet the word-count requirements of NaNo, of course, but that was never really an option. I met my self-imposed goal.

But there are still three days left, and a little story idea has wormed its way into my brain. It’s called What Yuri Gagarin Saw. I think it’s a flash fiction piece, only about a thousand words long, so it’s easily completable before the end of the month. This’ll be my bonus story, and I’m gonna get it done.

That’s why this update is short. I have writing to do.

This checkin is late. And it’s late because NaNo has struck down my hubric back at me with a vicious counter-stroke in the form of flu.

Yes, I got sick. I spent all day yesterday vomiting (fun!) and most of today slowly returning to the land of the living. My older son also got sick yesterday afternoon, but he made a quicker turnaround than me. So that means that nothing got written for the last two days, and I took the day before that off from writing to reward myself with some gaming time.

But the reason for taking that day off (which has since become three days off) was because I’ve made excellent progress on my NaNoWriMo goals. I have completed:

  1. The Heresy Trial of Friar Travolo at 4,000 words
  2. Mr. Yamaguchi’s Late-Night Janitorial and Demon-Hunting Service at 3,500 words
  3. There Is No Such Place As Canada at 4,300 words

That’s three stories, and we’re only halfway through the month. The only remaining planned story is The Blasphemous, The Cruel, and the Weak, which I now have two weeks to complete. That should be plenty of time, though I still have to figure out what the actual plot of the story is.

Good luck to all the other NaNoWriMo’ers!

First week of NaNoWriMo, and I’m doing great.

Granted, my goal is modest. I have slated to finish four short stories this month, which is a significant step up from my normal writing pace, but still quite a bit less than the normal 50,000 words. That said, things have gone swimmingly so far.

Week 1’s project was The Heresy Trial of Friar Travolo, which is now complete at 4,000 words. There is another scene of about 500 words that I’ve omitted because to finish it requires some research that I haven’t finished yet. However, it looks like I may have time to do this at the end of the month, since I’m a little ahead of schedule.

Week 2’s story is Mr. Yamaguchi’s Late-Night Janitorial and Demon-Hunting Service, which is about 2/3 complete, at about 2,000 words. I expect to finish it in a day or two, which means by the end of the week I should be started on Week 3’s story There Is No Such Place As Canada. This puts me well ahead of schedule for the month, and makes me feel confident for actually getting all four done on time.

Also! I’m told there is some sort of election today. And since I’ve been saying it all day to anyone who will listen, you really should vote for no one.

1. I already have a change of NaNoWriMo plans. The story for week #3 will not be Whalesong, as previously written into the schedule, but rather There Is No Such Place As Canada. It’s a story about oppression, specifically the oppression of Canadians. It should be a riot. Week four, then, is a wildcard, in which I write any story whose plot comes to me in time, but the current candidates are either Whalesong or The Blasphemous, the Cruel, and the Weak.

2. So evidently there’s some kind of election coming up? Based on the coverage, it appears that the candidates are a notorious international anarcho-terrorist and a rapacious, black-hearted banker who wears funny underwear. Plus there are third-party candidates, who are hilarious. So I’m encouraging everyone to do their part for democracy and not vote.

3. Jim Hines has a good NaNo pep talk. So do lots of other people, for that matter. See, NaNoWriMo would be a good thing you could do instead of voting next Tuesday. I have your best interests in mind.

It’s coming. Can you feel it? It sounds like thousands of keyboards being battered all at once, their keys clattering, crying, and falling silent. You can smell it on the wind. The smell of imagination, the incense of hope, and the bitter smoke of despair. The writers approach, their eyes wide, their fingers trembling, and on their lips the mantra: fifty thousand, fifty thousand, fifty thousand.


I’ve plunged into the madness of NaNoWriMo once before, and emerged, miraculously, victorious. I’m told there are not many that succeed on their first foray into that ravenous land. On that occasion I was writing a novel, The Failed Apostle, and I successfully penned its first 60,000 words that November. It was very hard. I was very glad I did it.

I am foolish enough to try again, after a fashion.

This time I do not have a novel which I would like to begin. I do, however, have another kid, and a larger and more pressing set of responsibilities. Examining my current projects and the realities of my schedule, I have put myself another, more realistic goal: I shall write four short stories in the month of November. One each week.

All together, these stories will probably not total more than 20,000 words—but this is hardly the point. As any short story writer will tell you, 2,000 words of short story may take as much effort as 20,000 words from a novel. Your canvas is smaller, and so your attention to detail must be greater. Under current conditions, writing a full rough draft of a story normally takes me much more than a week, so this will still be a significant challenge to my dedication and time. I think it will be worth it.

As with last time, I do not go into battle unprepared. I have chosen which stories I will write, and slotted them into a schedule.

  1. The Heresy Trial of Friar Travolo, about a monk who proves a thesis which is scandalous to the mathematical authorities of his day. This one is cheating, somewhat, since I already have it half-written. I do not care, though. It’s a difficult story for me to write, somewhat outside my usual oeuvre, and finishing it within its allotted week will be challenge enough.

  2. Mr. Yamamoto’s Night Janitorial and Demon-Hunting Service, about a young man who is trained to empty the trash bins and, if necessary, exorcise them. This one I have pretty clearly plotted in my head. It’s something of a satire.

  3. Whalesong, a story about (obviously) sunspots. This one is only a vague idea, yet.

  4. The Blasphemous, the Cruel, and the Weak. I have no idea what this one is about. I only have the title, which I love, but I still have to discover what the plot is.

Nor do I expect that I will have finished with these stories by the end of the month. It is enough that they be complete; making them be good is the task of the months to follow.

So you remember my NaNoWriMo novel? The one I wrote approx 55K words of in under a month? The one whose count is still shown on the sidebar?

It’s DONE.

I put the last period on the first draft this afternoon. I had to spend a few minutes after that stitching some things together, as the last chapters had been written with drafts on two different computers, but that’s done, too. The version that I just saved is now officially Draft One. Celebration time!

Here’s what it looks like:

The Failed Apostle

Letters: 471,988
Words: 82,587
Pages (manuscript format): 378
First sentence: The dossier called him a difficult case.
Middle sentence: “I’ve never seen a device like this one.”
Last sentence: “We should move,” he said. “We got a long ways to go.”
People intentionally killed by the protagonist: one
Fictional animal species introduced: three
Stab wounds inflicted on major characters: four
Pages of tedious exposition that will be cut from the final draft: Oh, probably twenty or so
Pages of repetitive dialogue that will be cut from the final draft: At least ten
Most overused synonym for said: “whispered”
Most inexplicably popular adjective: “yellow”
Level of irritation with current draft: high
Required vacation time from writing before returning to revise: about a month

In the meantime, bottoms up!

Two long days of writing, and a big push for the end. I didn’t really even plan to cross the finish line yesterday: my goal was 47,000 words, but I hit that at around 4pm. Then I realized I had the whole rest of the day, and nothing else planned–so I went for it. And a huge thanks to Larisa, who literally cheered me on as I was getting my way across the goal line.

So! Here’s the finish-line celebration breakdown:

First sentence: The dossier called him a difficult case.

Winning sentence: “I’m glad you’re awake,” he said. (I find this amusingly appropriate given my state at the time I finally finished. Did I mention that the night before Larisa and I were up eight times with the baby?)

Best sentence of the night: But on every side, thick cables like severed tendons slithered across the floor.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that the novel itself is done. My private goal is to reach 60,000 words by Nov. 30, then finish the first draft (estimated at 75,000 words) by Dec. 13.

Well, nuts. Last night my goal was to cross the 40,000 word threshold, but I just missed it. I was tired, and I was at the end of the chapter, and I didn’t want to force myself through those last 400 words.

However! This morning I wrote very well and got over the line, though I didn’t actually check my wordcount yet. And I finally got my characters into a long-awaited secret chamber, though the lovebirds have started fighting and things will generally be downhill from here.

At around 30,000 words, the middle of last week, my novel took an unexpected turn. It was something I should have seen coming, but didn’t: once I started writing what I had in my outline, I realized that it was stupid and made no sense. So I wrote something else. This got my stuck and result in a several-day-long slowdown of my work. The whole point of having an outline is to know what I’m doing so that I can write quickly, but this doesn’t work when the outline violates the core premise of the story.

I eventually worked my way out of it and got back onto the outline, though with a missing chapter and a really rough spot that needs to be worked over in editing. My protags got hitched and laid. This means that I’ve passed the logical midpoint of the story, and now I can get to work tearing them apart and destroying everything that they love.

This story is going to be so much longer than 50,000 words.