My Muse Must be Crazy

Well. I finally started my own official blog. Why? Why not? Because it’s my blog and I can blog if I want to. Because it’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel like blogging. Because I felt like going off the rails on the blog crazy train.

Ugh. That’s a terrible first paragraph.

Let’s start over. This thing has gotten off track already and I haven’t even gotten started. I want my first blog entry to be a good one. It’d be nice if anyone who actually reads this comes back. And, yes, I plan on doing this again.

I assume anyone who is actually reading this knows me, either in real life or through social media (most likely Facebook as I abandoned MySpace about 6 years ago and don’t really get the whole Twitter thing, so tend to avoid it). On the off chance that you don’t know me, however, or if you’ve recently added me as a friend and don’t really know what I’m about, or even if you do know me and we’ve just fallen out of touch, I’ll do my best to fill you in briefly.

As I write this, I’m a 41-year-old father of two beautiful girls who unfortunately live with their mother 350 miles away. I have an amazing and super supportive girlfriend named Melanie who was one of the many people among my close friends who were instrumental in helping me keep my sanity during my less-than-fun divorce a couple years back. For my day job, I work as a Medical Transcription Quality Control specialist, which basically means I check other people’s work for errors. I’ve collected Transformers since they were first released in 1984. I’ve seen every single Star Wars movie in the theater. Batman is hands down my favorite super hero (more on that in a later blog). In my spare time, I’m a book lover, a comic book reader, a movie watcher, a gamer, a writer, and an unapologetic geek. I’ve had a handful of short stories published in various fantasy and horror anthologies and I’m working very hard to expand my portfolio. And I also took a huge leap this year and signed up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which is primarily what I want to focus on in this post.

For the uninformed or uninitiated, NaNoWriMo takes place annually during the month of November. The idea behind it is to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. And personally, having never written a novel—or more accurately, never finished one—this is incredibly intimidating for me. I have an idea that I came up with about a year and a half ago that I thought at the time would make a good YA series. The concept is that a pair of sisters who live in a world very different from our own, where alchemy is science, travel the globe in an attempt to collect mysterious artifacts of power in an effort to rescue their father, who has been arrested by the all-powerful State on the premise of treason, the only way to rescue him being to collect these artifacts and bring them to their father’s captors, who want their power for themselves.

Since conceptualizing it, I worked on the core idea for several months, came up with some interesting characters, locations, and concepts and feel like I have a pretty solid thing going. Now, it’s just a matter of putting the words down.

In the interest of full disclosure, I had actually kinda sorta started writing this for last year’s NaNoWriMo, but because I was also working on another short story, which then became two short stories, for the Ladies and Gentlemen of Fantasy 2014, this story kind of fell to the wayside; it had been several years, actually, since I had seriously written anything and to say that my skills were rusty would be an understatement. It was simply too much for me at the time. So I abandoned working on the novel in order to focus my attention on the short stories, which had an early 2014 deadline. In the meantime, the hard drive that I had saved my work on crashed, and foolishly, I hadn’t backed it up. So here I am again, starting from scratch.

Honestly, though, losing the story was a bit of a blessing in disguise. I feel like because I’ve got a pretty good handle on what happens in the opening chapters, it’s allowing me to focus on some of the details that I missed the first time, to take my time setting up the story and also to avoid some of the missteps that I had taken with that early draft, like writing far too much exposition at the beginning of the story rather than let things unfold naturally. It has also allowed me the time to think ahead, plan what comes in the chapters after I pass the point I had gotten to in my first draft. And I feel like, while I don’t have all the details worked out yet, I’m getting there, and I certainly have ideas on additional characters and plot stimulating events that I can work in that weren’t there in my first attempt.

I have to admit, though, that, being very much a seat-of-my-pantser, I don’t really know where the story is going to take me. I have a starting point and an end point, but the middle is very much a mystery to me. And that makes me nervous. I feel like I’m usually pretty good at figuring these things out if I just stick with it, but that’s kind of been my problem in the past—sticking with it. Which is another reason I made the leap to do NaNoWriMo, so I would force myself to stick with it from beginning to end, even if the finished product sucks, just so I know that I can do it. Because I have a fantasy novel that I started years ago that I got very stuck on after realizing that the story I thought I wanted to tell wasn’t the story that actually needed to be told. Long story short, I panicked, got stuck, and stepped away from it and after a certain point, had a very hard time going back (I’ll talk about that whole thing in a future entry, but for right now, it would take up too much space here). And that was part, although certainly not all, of the reason I got away from writing for a while—I kind of psyched myself out, thinking it was far too difficult and would take too long to actually put together a coherent, complex novel-length story and that I didn’t have the time in my life or the chops to pull it off. I think I made it a much bigger deal than it actually is (and have been told that I tend to do this). Mountains out of molehills, and all that. So, with maybe more than a little bit of urging on Melanie’s behalf, I took the NaNoWriMo plunge, officially signing up and publicly committing to 30 days of writing an average of 1667 words every. Single. Day. For thirty days. Until I’ve written a novel.

A novel.

I’ve never done this before. And I’m trying very hard not to be incredibly intimidated by it. And to be honest, I’m not 100% convinced I’ll actually pull it off.

But.

I’ve written 12,000+ word short stories, which is more than 20% of a novel. I’m 3 days in and have a total of 5032 words. I’m on chapter 4. I’ll be starting chapter 5 soon. I’m averaging just over the bare minimum needed to git ‘r dun by November 30th. Assuming I can keep my stamina up, I’m on track.

I will be facing some obstacles, like the fact that we have plans to travel to New Hampshire to spend Thanksgiving with Melanie’s family and it’s a 14-hour drive each way (thank God for good family and good neighbors who are so willing to house sit and feed the kittehs when we travel), so there are a couple of days right there where it’s very likely that I won’t be able to work on it at all. Also I need to start thinking about another short story that I need to have at least a first draft to present at the December meeting of my Friday peer review virtual group so that I can get the feedback in time for the submission deadline at the end of January. I don’t even have a concept yet for that one, which is starting to worry me a little.

On the other hand, assuming I actually get two days off for my scheduled weekends (which doesn’t always happen, especially if overtime is being offered), I should be able to write more on those days, so I’m hoping it balances out.

Either way, I’ll be posting about it. And that’s one of the real reasons I decided to start a blog; I thought it might be fun and interesting to chronicle the 30-day journey of a first-time NaNoWriMo participant who has no idea what he’s doing and isn’t 100% convinced that he can pull it off.

Which another reason I started this blog; not for the attention and certainly not to brag about writing a novel. I need to be held accountable. And if I know that I have to keep a journal for the world (or at least the few of you I think will actually take the time to read this), it’ll help keep me writing. I’ll still have to report in every single day, whether I write or not. And if I don’t write, I’d better have a darn good reason for it.

On that note, I think it’s time to sign off. This thing went on rather a bit longer than I intended, but I guess I had a lot to say, a lot to share. And I hope that anyone who takes the time to read this (and hopefully follow me) will take away from it—that while I’m writing about me—my thoughts, my experiences—ultimately, it’s just a thing that I’m sharing. And if you happen to learn something or get something out of it, then that’s a nice bonus.

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