Writing Blather: Marathon Season and (Many) Works in Progress
Yesterday, Charlie (one of the warrant officers) came into my office around 1:30.
Charlie: Dawn! It's hot in here!
Dawn: Yeah, I'm trying not to put on the air-conditioning, but it's getting really hot.
Dawn: Yeah, I'm sort of a radical environmentalist. I'm trying to save energy.
Charlie: I'll say!
Bobby called about fifteen minutes later, and I told him about my air-conditioning dilemma, and he thought me pretty silly for trying to sit in 100-degree heat without the air-conditioning. So I put it on for the last two hours. Last three hours today. Bah! I have no willpower!
Anyway, we're coming up on crazy writing marathon season. Okay, only one of these marathons is in any way official; the other two are just things to which I voluntarily subject myself on an annual basis.
In October, we kick off the marathon season with Haunted October. This year's haunted day is Wednesday, so as we had Haunted Tuesday last year, this year we will have Haunted Wednesday because Halloween is on a Wednesday. The goal is to post a scary short story every Wednesday for the month of October. Generally, I try to make each different in style and sub-genre from the others. For example, last year's stories had touches of romance and science fiction, were set in the modern era, the future, the past, and bridged the present and past. *whew*
The stories don't have to be written in October, but I didn't finish most of them before October last year and doubt that I will this year either. I have an idea that's been bugging me that I hope to start this week, maybe finish.
Then comes November and NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, for the uninitiated. The goal? To write a 50K-word novel in one month. Technically, one has to start a new project. That is why last year--and this year as well--I will not be an official participant as I was in 2005. I'm not quite sure what my project will be this year, but I have three novels-in-progress at the moment, so it will certainly be one of those.
Still, one of the things that I love about NaNoWriMo is that it's an official project; thousands of others are doing the same thing at the same time, so I feel less bad copping out of things in order to write. "Well, you know, I can't; I'm working on a story," never cuts it. "Well, I can't; I'm participating in National Novel Writing Month," sounds all official and sort of highbrow (for one who isn't familiar with NaNoWriMo's "embrace the crap" outlook anyway). "Well, Dawn, in that case ... good luck!"
Is anyone else bothered by the lack of hyphen in "Novel Writing"? Man, I'm pathetic ...
Finally, December is holiday story time! Not "holiday stories" in the sense of stories about the holidays, oh no no ... Last year, I wrote about Maedhros in Angband for oloriel; the year before was a story about Celegorm dying for ford_of_bruinen and a spooky story about Finrod's re-embodiment for fanged_geranium.
Like last year, I'll probably do fixed-length ficlets and series again. It's just too much for me to write twenty-odd short stories in a month, though I've done it before. This was pre-SWG, though ... and pre-house ... Anyway, this will be my third year writing gift stories for people, and it's one of the writing "events" I look forward to most every year.
I'm feeling very non-productive as a writer right now. I have a daunting list of works-in-progress. And they're all long projects, so it's not like I can sit down in an afternoon and knock one off.
I have two original novels going right now. Both are Midhavens novels ... that is, my original fantasy universe. They are part of the same series of stories. The first is about the early life of Mennik, one of my original characters. He's a half-Elf with a rather dark background who ends up a hero. This story was my project for NaNoWriMo 2005, and it's not finished because it requires so much revision that I'm a bit afraid to approach it. But Mennik has been tapping me on the arm incessantly, asking that I finish it up. I left him right in the middle of a predicament, it seems, and he requires resolution. Also, he gets to get laid in the next few pages, so I'd imagine he looks forward to that too.
The second story takes place during the childhoods of Meryth and Talban, Mennik's sons (and the oops from the aforementioned lay). I am writing it like I wrote AMC; in other words, without a plan or any idea what will happen aside from a few plot points that I know I want to include and so must somehow string together. I don't know if this will ever be readable or will die as nothing more than a characterization exercise (which is, indeed, how AMC started), but I thought it a good idea to get a really solid grasp on the voices of Meryth and Talban since they are my main characters and all.
Then I have an original novella that is based on the alliterative verse Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I'm just over halfway finished and could probably knock this one out in about two weeks, if I set my mind to it. This might be the one I tackle next, for that very reason.
Now we come to fanfic. I have started the prequel to AMC; I had five chapters, but they got eaten when my USB key corrupted. Now I have two chapters and an outline, a map drawn in Paint, and a good idea of what I want to happen ... but no real time to work on it. This is actually a strong candidate for this year's NaNoWriMo since I know that it's completion will make many people very happy and I could pretty much just sit and write it without a lot of angst that inevitably accompanies my Midhavens novels.
Aaaand I have a fanfic novella as well: the Darkening of Valinor story from the PoV of Eärwen. This is close to completion too and so is a good candidate for my focus in the next few weeks, just so I can feel like I've accomplished something. And so I can knock one of these off the list.
For once, I have no short stories in progress aside from an original literary story (I know ... shoot me now) that I'm not sure I'll even finish. It'll probably be one of those things that I come back to two years from now, wonder, "Why didn't I finish this?" then sit and crank out an ending. We'll see.
Meanwhile, I'm also angsting over Critters, more specifically, "What will I send them next??" Which is stupid; I have more than a dozen stories and only two have gone through Critters, so just send something, right? Why do I bother revising like crazy before sending in a story to a group that is supposed to help me with that? I dislike letting people read my crappy drafts, though, especially for o-fic.
I should send something, though. It's rather silly to spend hours each week on critiques for other people without ever forcing them to schlep through my stories.
Speaking of which, I am putting off finishing my Critters critique for the week to write this ... *sigh*
Back to work, Dawn.