National Novel READING Month

Up until last night, a feeling of dread had been growing within me, a darkness gathering in my mind as the end of October approached. I was not fearing the ghouls and monsters of Halloween, but of the imminent arrival of National Novel Writing Month.


Last year, I successfully completed the challenge, writing my first completed novel “Daytripper” in those 30 days, based on a shred of an idea and going in a completely different direction than the original concept. It was a good experience, forcing myself to write like that, but the fact is, “Daytripper” still sits in a drawer, unrevised save for a single run through. At 50K words, it is too short for a novel and too long for a novella. There are things in it — plot elements, characters, scenes and ideas — that I love, but it is mostly terrible. I don’t know what to do with it, so I had decided that I would use NaNoWriMo this year to create a fresh draft of “Daytripper” and maybe, just maybe, between the two I could create a novel I felt good about publishing.


The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it is (intentionally) intense and consuming. It eats the month of November. Last year, my wife was wonderfully accommodating as I sequestered myself night after night in my basement office (if one could call a room filled with comics, RPG manuals and video games an “office”). This year, my Novemeber is already half consumed by other activities, from a game convention to a scouting overnight to a wedding anniversary retreat. ¬†As November approached, I tried to calculate how many words I would have to write a day to accommodate all the days I could not be writing, and I despaired.


But the real reason I dreaded the arrival of NaNoWriMo is that I do not know if I want to revise “Daytripper.” I do not know if there is a good enough story in there to make a novel worth my time to write it and your time to read it. That kind of uncertainty is telling, I think. there are other novels I want to write (eventually) that I am certain are worth the time, but I am less certain about my ability to write those novels just yet. Part of the reason for that is I read far fewer novels than I should, and I need to remedy that before I can successfully write one.


So, for me, NaNoWriMo will become NaNoReMo — National Novel READING Month. There are a number of novels, from light YA fare to classics of English Literature, I have always meant to read. So instead of burning all that time writing a terrible novel, I choose to read a few good ones.


For the past few weeks, a combination of day-job stress and personal blahs has given me quite the case of writer’s block. I could go into a long screed on writer’s block — why’s, wherefore’s, theories, strategies — but not only has that stuff been tackled before by far greater writers than I, it’s boring. Suffice it to say that I hereby declare the month of October to be “Bloctober!”

What is “Bloctober?” I don’t know for sure what form it will take, but in the lead up to National Novel Writing Month (that’s November for the uninitiated) the goal is to work out the writer’s block and get in good mental and creative shape to be able to power through a novel come next month. The crux of that simply writing, every day, even when I don’t feel like it or aren’t creatively “there.” It’s like “100 Days, 100K” but without the overinflated sense of self worth.

Here’s to Bloctober! Hope to see you there.

30 Days, 10K

As you can probably guess by the title, things are progressing far more slowly than I expected. There are some real life logistical issues, but the real problem is that I have not been able to find a strong rhythm for daily writing. I generally do write every day, but sometimes it is only a hundred words or two.

Part of the problem may be that I am not working on a specific project like I did during NaNoWriMo. Because that exercise was built specifically around trying to finish a novel of a minimum length, it was easier to set daily goals. Writing short stories and flash fiction, it is harder to make myself try and achieve a set goal. It may be necessary to restructure my approach in order to have clearer writing milestones in place. I don’t know exactly what that will look like but I will see what I can do.

As always, thanks for sticking with me an if you have suggestions, I am all ears.