Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Month of Writing Dangerously (& Fast)

Last year I participated in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo). The goal is to write a novel of at least 50,000 words beginning November 1, ending no later than November 30. I succeeded in doing so, and the result was Paws & Claws: A Three Dog Mystery, the first of the Paws & Claws series, in which the Three Dog Detective Agency fought the evil Feral Gang, a clowder of lawless cats determined to conquer the neighborhood. It was published just before the end of 2012. As you may imagine, it was rather stressful in that it demanded a daily writing regimen which is not usually followed by a writer of short stories. While the discipline helped me to write three and publish three more books in 2013, I did not think it likely I would once again throw myself into the meat-grinder known as Nanowrimo. As usual, I was wrong.

The morning of November 1st, I started writing K-9 Blues, the third story in the adventures of the Three Dog Detective Agency. Once again, the hardest task was sitting down each day and writing at least 1,700 words, the approximate amount you need to write each day in order to reach the goal by the deadline. I was handicapped by several things -- I am a terribly slow typist, I am easily distracted, I tire easily, and my right hand had recently lost an argument with a mandolin slicer. However, I had the whole plot in mind and I had my list of characters (one of whom had been nominated by a fan of the books), which gave me an advantage over others who either had no plan or did not know their characters.

Several days I managed to write more than 3,000 words, which helped to offset those days when I did not do nearly as well. I know, 3K words is nothing to a professional typist (the Wife could do it in an hour or less) but it's great for someone like me...I once calculated how many wpm I manage when working on a book, but it was so depressing I immediately hit "clear" on the calculator. The best place for me to write was at the Panera's in the Chula Vista Shopping Center. It's much easier to concentrate and stay focused when you think people are looking at you. Who knew paranoia could have an up side? Of course, the endless supply of strong coffee might have had something to do with it as well. Unlike last year, I did not attend any Nanowrimo get-togethers, but I still had writing buddies n the Nanowrimo website who would occasionally drop me a line of encouragement; and seeing their progress also buoyed me up. Now and then we would get a "pep talk" from established writers, but the only ones that really did encourage me were from Col Ralph Peters. The month wore on, and word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph I eventually completed my story, though it might be more accurate to say I was dragged across the finish line by three extraordinary dogs.

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