This time next week it’ll be Day Two of this year’s National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo or just NaNo) – and I still have a curious ambivalence about it …
Not about the concept of NaNo, nor about the good that comes out of it, but about my journey through it this year. (On the off-chance that you have no clue what the point of NaNo is – participants agree to write a 50,000 word manuscript in the 30 days of November – James Snaith has a nice round up and makes some valid points that are kind of outside of this post.)
I’ve had an up-and-down relationship with NaNo over the last … 5 years. My first outing in 2009 was successfully completed, and Operation: Spring was born. A sort of Jason Bourne-meets-Charlies Angels-meets-Dante’s Cove. Romance. Espionage. Guilt. Murder. Paris. It had it all …
2010 brought me the first attempt at Groom of Priapica. A glorious, riotous erotic space opera. Flesh Gordon has nothing on heroic space-pilot Largo, but when Largo’s sidekick and partner gets kidnapped by the evil Priapica, he moves planets to rescue him … Only I never got beyond the first couple of chapters.
In 2011 I attempted a twofer (you know, two-for-one) with dedicating half the word count to completing Groom and and the other half to expanding an existing fantasy-based short story entitled simply Mara. (I have to say that as a character, Mara is one of my all-time favourites – vulnerable, manipulative, packed to the brim with bad-assery.)
Oddly, my official NaNo profile states that I won that year despite my word count being a smidge over 11,000.
In 2012 I had a serious talk with myself and switched style. Instead of a one-shot I thought I’d go with an anthology. Gay to Zed is a collection of 26 short stories that range from the romantic to the erotic, the flirty to the filthy. This was my last NaNo ‘win’. I’ll admit to a little bit of cheating as some of the stories included were written – or at least started – outside November. And not all of them were completed, and some remain an embryonic sketch. However, there are a few seeds in there that could easily be turned into something larger and a few characters that almost beg to be expanded and explored further.
In April, NaNo runs a different style of WriMo – the only word limit is one that you impose on yourself. You decide on your own word count at the beginning and aim for that. In 2013 I’d had an idea that I wanted to explore – that of one person taking on a giant of a company. Perhelis tells that story. What are owners of the largest company the planet has ever seen trying to hide? What is the mystery behind the words Jupiter Blue? I guess we’ll never know as I didn’t even register for the event …
November 2013 saw me cycle back to the world Mara inhabited and start on a sequel to the events of the short story in which she first appeared. Again with the fantasy and taking place in a world rife with magic, violence and beasts beyond compare, Mara has an encounter with an old crone and decides to search for the one item that may give her what she wants … but be careful what you witch for …
So that was then …
… And this is now.
NaNoWriMo 2014 is less than a week away and I don’t know if I have a story in me to tell. I could (finally) rework Operation: Spring (which would include coming up with a new title for starters) or give Mara what she wants. I could investigate a couple of ideas I already have lurking about the place … the mystery held within the village of Clanton Barrow; Kelly and his alternate dimensions; the Belle Spangle Mysteries; or even The Cross War … Alternatively how about a brand-spanking-new idea? How about Whatever Happened to Benito Jones?
Or maybe it’ll be something that hasn’t even snuck up on my synapses yet. With zero plan in place, I’m wondering how I’m going to fare this time around. It’d be great in order to finish and ‘win’ and I don’t want to beat myself up over not completing it (again).
My Facebook friends will have seen me change my cover and profile pics this week – which is kind of a commitment, isn’t it?
Do you want to buddy up and
kick my ass join the ride? My NaNo profile is here.
(All cover art produced with immense gratitude by James Snaith.)