I’m not doing NaNoWriMo this year. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and I’ll not burden you by kvetching about it. That grouse has flown. I’ll just say I’m not sure whether writing 50,000 words of admitted is the same thing as writing a novel, or whether writing a novel-length draft doth a novelist make. And frankly, the prohibition on not continuing existing projects rules out most literary artists of my acquaintance.

Instead, I’ll tell you what I and some of those literary artist friends are doing this month.

It’s not NaNoWriMo. It does involve making some serious projects on literary projects this month. In fact, it doubles and opposes NaNoWriMo through its cheeky combination of libertinism and chutzpah. It’s a small, informal group of friends with different sorts of projects, wildly different goals and thresholds, all more or less working on existing projects, many of which aren’t novels. I’m trying to finish redrafting a long manuscript, getting hopefully a chapter done a day, but at least bits of it. It’s a bit of a lark, really, but a lark with serious writing to do.

We call ourselves ShadowWriMo. It’s not trademarked.

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an anti-wednesday appeal

My cordial dislike of the phenomenon known as NaNoWriMo has been well documented. Its self-proclaimed goal of getting you to write at least 5ok not-really-very-polished words in a month smacks of a latent prescriptivism which I find unhelpful So you might expect me to react with incredulity at the notion that anyone would want to indulge in NaNoWriMo more than once a year.

That’s almost exactly what Shallee MacArthur isn’t doing. She’s started JuNoWriMo to write a NaNoWriMo-ish novel in June, and she’s invited anyone who wants. But there’s one important distinction. She explains:

For JuNoWriMo (June Novel Writing Month, of course!), you don’t have to pump out a 50,000 word novel in a month. Pick a writing goal–any writing goal— it can be that you want to write 1,000 words a day all month. Or that you want to spend 1 hour a day pounding out your revisions. Or that you dedicate at least a two hours a week to your writing. Whatever the goal is, we’ll support each other in it!

Now that’s something I can get excited about. None of this ‘We’re writing novels fast and you’re not.’ Just good, frank, collaborative fun.

In fact, I’d already set myself some tentative June goals (which would have utterly excluded me from NaNoWriMo, I might add). So the advent of JuNoWriMo is nothing short of serendipitous.

My goals are pretty straightforward:

  1. Write a chapter a day in a new project I’ve not told anyone about yet, and
  2. Write 1,ooo words a day in my novel length manuscript.

My handicap is that I will only be writing five days a week, since I have many other responsibilities and commitments and need to actively protect days off. If I miss a day writing, especially for goal 2, I’ll try to make up for it the next day. And, yes, I will revise as I go and revise the previous night’s work each day before I begin.

This is fairly realistic for how I work. And it lets me, first, work out the new project fairly swiftly, which is what it needs. And, second, it helps me actually complete my long manuscript, which is becoming a proverbial albatross around my neck. The ultimate goal is to have complete drafts of both works by the end of July (beta readers beware!), and spend August writing up a project which may or may not have everything to do with fairy tales and alchemy.

H/T to Jenna St. Hilaire for convincing me this was a good idea. I started this gig Monday, which is really when the summer began for me (the first week in June overlapped with the last week of May, so it does Not Count). If you’re interested, my achievements so far are listed below the jump. Otherwise, they’ll appear unobtrusively at the top of occasional blog posts.

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a time to cheer

First reason:

In response to Jenna St. Hilaire, The Finish Line.

11/30/2010 12:12 PM
50,909 words


Jenna has written 50,ooo words in thirty days. And another 909 words just for the heck of it. Reflecting on the final moments of the effort, she says:

Not being a marathoner myself, I can’t say for sure, but my guess is that when you get to the last mile, you’re pretty confident you’ll make it. You might want to die one step beyond the finish line, but you will. get. there. Or else.

It’s definitely true of this great November write-a-thon.

As the only man I ever knew who’d run over 70 marathons (it’s probably closer to 100 now) said to me, the last four miles were fine. Right around mile twenty-one, he said, it started getting really hard. But after about a mile, it was fine—just getting up to the finish line.

Consider this a virtual screaming my head off.

Second reason:

New Fairy Tales, Issue 6, is now available. Go read it, and watch for a review at Paradoxes.


on giving up, or not

In response to Jenna St. Hilaire, Halfway.

Sometimes you want to.

Sometimes you need to.

Sometimes you shouldn’t.

I seem to have inadvertently begun writing a pop song. Stand aside, Mr McCartney, ‘Only Sometimes’ coming through on the charts. Brr—that’s a ghastly thought. Forgive me while I move on.

I’d feel a little impertinent calling this a webpartee—as Jenna observed over at ‘Halfway,’ we’re not really disagreeing at the moment. This is really more of a comment on Jenna’s post, posted here by order of the Regulated Society for the Prevention of Long Off-Topic Comments. Or something. Which is just too bad, because this is on topic.

Well, not yet. But in a sentence.

Jenna and I are in a paradoxical situation. (Ha! Knew this post belonged over here.) Jenna has been pursuing NaNoWriMo. I have not. Jenna has been assiduously writing 1600+ words of her novel manuscript every day. I have not. Jenna is likely to complete said novel-length manuscript by 30 November. I, alas, will not.

We have, it seems, accomplished about the same amount of work this month.

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on caring too deeply

In response to Jenna St. Hilaire, On Writing Crap.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy has this to say about crappy writing:

Crapfully Yours,

That turned out pretty good! I should maybe make some crappy Xeroxes of that thing and sell it over at Bubs’s. Or at least some snooty independent record store.

Not really. But a Strong Bad quote was inevitable at some point in this discussion, so I figured we might as well start now.

It’s  more interesting to read Jenna St. Hilaire’s eloquent defence of writing crap. She raises the intriguing point that we, who by and large share a similar writing philosophy, should have such very different reactions to the phenomenon of NaNoWriMo, the headlong race against the month to complete a 50k word novel before November ends. Jenna runs straight at NaNoWriMo every year. She’s drafted at least one novel-length manuscript that way. I think about it, and run the other way, shrieking, ‘Wolf!’

I haven’t completed a novel manuscript.

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