Blues in Week 3

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Week 3 of National Novel Writing Month has begun, and, as always around this time, I’m feeling kind of wrung out with the entire enterprise. Buckling down and pounding out words for a rough draft isn’t exactly new for me. I can’t say that it’s always been easy, but it can be done. I know because I’ve done it before. I did it for (most of) Ravens and Roses, the first book in the Mariner Sequence. I did it for my Dark Crystal novel contest entry, “Search of the Sun-Child.” I did it for the fantasy / romance / steampunk / political intrigue hybrid that is Courting the Moon.

So why is Seahawks and Storms giving me so much trouble?
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Distractions

I recently read a book called iDisorder, which was recommended to me by my onii-sanDavid Greenshell.  It’s about how the pervasive technology around us has encouraged the widespread development of behaviors that have the same symptoms as mental disorders, such as OCD, ADHD, addiction, narcissism, depression, and schizophrenia.  I highly recommend it because so many behaviors that seem “normal” now in relation to technology maybe shouldn’t be granted an exemption from concern.

Before I go any father, let me just say that I am not a naysayer to technology.  I have this blog, don’t I?  I also have numerous accounts all over the web, I own a cell phone (not a SmartPhone, thank God), and I probably spend more time than I should on Facebook and Twitter.  I suppose I am a little different from the majority of my generation because I do not have internet access at home, nor do I own a laptop, tablet, e-reader, or any other device that would allow me ubiquitous access to the world wide web.  Sometimes this is frustrating, even inhibiting.  It’s hard to look for, or even consider pursuing, an online job without a constant internet connection, and my friends can tell you just how furious I was to hear that Diablo 3 didn’t have an off-line option like its predecessors.

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Prolific Penmasters

It’s ironic that the three writers I look up to the most are also some of the most prolific.  Mercedes Lackey has dozens upon dozens of novels.  Many are collaborations, but many are not, and even collaborating takes a great deal of time and effort.  Oddly enough, she started off as a writer of fanfiction and was a protegée of Marion Zimmer Bradley, one of the mistresses of sci-fi and fantasy.  J. Michael Straczynski writes for 10 hours a day, every day, except on his birthday, Christmas, and New Year’s.  He says, “If I don’t have an assignment, I’ll write a short story, I’ll write a spec script, I’ll write a novel. I just enjoy the hell out of it.”  Out of the 110 episodes comprising Babylon 5, he wrote the scripts for 92 of them, plus all of the movies.  Joss Whedon has created several cult classic television shows with some of the most unique and memorable mythologies and characters.  He worked on BuffyAngel, and Firefly as writer and director during the 2002-2003 television season, and said that he only feels his best when he’s writing:

“You know, I always get cranky when I’m not writing,” Joss admits.  “I’ll be mad and I don’t know why.  I just feel like I’m angry with everybody and I hate everything and life is a sham.  Then I’ll realize I haven’t written anything. And rewriting doesn’t count.  It has to be an original script” (Havens, 158).

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How the Office of Letters and Light helped me start (and stay) writing:

I think humans have a tendency to name things and make up random holidays.  Throughout the year you can find instances of this.  Did you know that January 10th is “Peculiar People Day?”  Or that October 28th is “Plush Animal Lovers’ Day?”  How about August being “National Catfish Month?”  A lot of these days and months have multiple names to them.  Personally, I think there’s a government committee somewhere whose sole purpose is to make these things up.

At any rate, this obsession with naming led to November being called “National Novel Writing Month.”  It’s rather nice having a month dedicated to the art and craft of writing, specifically novel writing, but for most people, this month passes by unnoticed.  However, the Office of Letters and Light decided to create something special.  They made a contest also called “National Novel Writing Month,” affectionately dubbed “NaNoWriMo” (pronounced “NAH-no-RHYME-oh”.)  It challenges would-be novelists to write 50,000 words, the minimum requirement for a novel, in 30 days.  There is no cash prize and there are no judges to evaluate your work.

The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to get writers to stop agonizing over perfecting each passage before moving on, to break the rut of perfectionism and procrastination that dogs the heels of authors.  In order to help writers complete that first draft, the emphasis is on quantity, not quality.  Now, granted, a writer could just sit down and type the same sentence over and over until they reached 50,000 words, but NaNoWriMo offers little incentive for such a path.  With no cash value and no one reading your work beyond the snippets you choose to post, there is no reason not to sit down and write.  All you have to enter is the number of words you wrote, and, at the end of the contest, an on-site word validator proves that yes, you actually did write that number of words.  If you reach 50,000 words, you get bragging rights and the satisfaction of reaching your goal.  And if you only wrote, say 30,000 words, or 20,000, or even 10,000, you still have more done now than you did at the start of November, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.

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