The Winner’s Circle

One of the things that made me laugh a lot was a bit in The Tick comic book (by Ben Edlund; if you’ve never read it, treat yourself: http://www.newenglandcomics.com/cgi-bin/shop/loadpage.cgi?file=splash5.htm) where the writer/artist has a page on How to Draw The Tick… it’s hilarious.  Here’s the gag: Edlund instructs you to draw a circle (the starting point of many a fine drawing), he then instructs you to draw The Tick holding the circle, the end!  Isn’t that great?!  No instruction on how to draw The Tick… draw a circle, draw The Tick holding the circle, and you’re done – brilliant!

Well, that’s exactly how I feel about this blog right about now…

The funny thing about writing about writing while you’re writing on a deadline with a definitive goal is that the writing about the writing suffers.  Never fear: I still plan on distilling the experience… it won’t be a documentary, so think about it more like a memoir.

First things first:

November was a baaaaaad month to undertake a challenge like NaNoWriMo; I think I may have expressed this already.  For those of you who know (and those of you who do not), my anniversary is in November and this year my wife and I took off for three days to celebrate.  Well, I didn’t want to detract from the anniversary celebration by cutting away from the festivities to work on my  novel… I wanted the time to be entirely hers, and for her not to feel like she was only receiving my divided attention; that would be so uncool, I would have felt like a complete heel.

Also, as we all know, November is notorious for that Thanksgiving thing that happens near the end of the month, and this year’s Thanksgiving celebration for my family and me included a five day trip to El Paso, Texas.  Thus, the thirty days of the NaNoWriMo challenge for me was actually more like (let me see… I’ve always been bad with math… 30-8=), oh yeah, 22 days!  I had 22 days to finish the 50,000 word challenge, and all told (according to the NaNoWriMo ticker) I finished right on time.  In actuality, when I factor in days when I was too tired to write and a few unfortunate days when I was too ill to write, I actually completed the 50,000 word challenge in something like 15 or 16 days.  I kept a pace so absurd, I broke out in a case of the shingles… no shit!

So I got to celebrate my Thanksgiving with pain-killers, Caladryl, herpes medication (it’s what they prescribe for shingles, I’m not kidding), and an unforeseen emergency room bill… but all told, I had a great time with my family, and I totally got to brag about writing a novel.

So what’s next?  Now the hard work begins: I wrote a 50,000+ word first draft which is nowhere near being a readable manuscript… I have a lot of re-writing to do, a lot of revision and editing to do before I even begin to think of this thing as done.  50,000 words gets you a novel of about 150 pages, which is not enough to truly contain the story I wanted to tell… and I knew this going in.  Most people don’t know that I was already working on a novel before taking the NaNoWriMo challenge, and my immediate priority is to get back to work on that.  I’m going to have to work out a schedule because I want to work on both as time allows.  I also have a lot of short fiction brewing and I’m thinking about a vehicle to get those out… I think I may have someone to help me out with that though.  I’ll post plans here, so stay tuned.

One of the things I gave thanks for this Thanksgiving was being blessed with such a fine troop of supportive family members and friends.  I am so grateful for everyone who had a hand in this endeavor in one way or another (most of you all probably weren’t even aware of it): my wife (for being a great sport), my kids (for fueling the fires of my imagination), my mom (for, well, for life!), my aunt (for keeping me fed and energized), my brother (for calling me a cry-baby and pushing me when I wanted to throw my hands up in the air and say, “fuck it!”), my best friend (for giving me the green light, and letting me off the hook of my other novel for a month to indulge my stupid whim), and a grand cast of friends and coworkers (for simply being there and being too important to disappoint).

Creativity is an essential part of me, and I’m always looking for ways to express myself… this has led me to all kinds of activities, but writing was first and I’m very glad to be back at it.  I’m also very happy I decided to participate in this challenge, and hope to make this an annual thing.  Cheers! …for now.

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