Monday, October 30, 2006

Charity and Other Good Works

First things first: new auction items are up for bidding For Peyton. There are some absolute beauties including: a poker table signed by the greats, a Grey Raymer package, a signed Mike Matusow jersery, (and last but not least) a package featuring the Donkey Puncher, Bobby Bracelet, and AlCantHang. The latter is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and as of this moment a complete douchebag is winning. So hop to it, sports fans!

* * * * * * * *

Second things second: it has come to my attention that the month of November is fast approaching. I can usually tell this is occurring by observing some key indicators: a) baseball season has just finished, b) basketball season is about to start, c) Daylight Savings time has just finished, and d) people I know start talking about NaNoWriMo.

I am a two-time National Novel Writing Month winner, 2001-02. For those of you who don't know (both of you), you "win" NaNoWriMo by completing a novel of at least 50,000 words in the month of November. For the history behind it, go to the website and check it out.

I found about NaNoWriMo through my very first Imaginary Internet Friend. Shauny had a gay online diary that I read regularly before gay online diaries had really hit the public consciousness (not to mention before they had become completely gay - at the time they were merely bi-curious). She mentioned to me that she was going to be doing NaNoWriMo, and that I should do it as well.

"NaNoWriMo?" I asked myself, before checking out the website. I was immediately hooked.

I had always enjoyed writing, though I was historically hopeless at doing much with it. I had various short stories in various states of completion strewn about, and every so often I would attempt to flex my writing muscles until I strained something during the third page and stopped doing it for another six months. But this was different. The idea was pitched so perfectly that I couldn't help but be excited. So excited, in fact, that I shelled out a large proportion of my net worth to get my hands on a second-hand IBM Thinkpad laptop that I was sure would help propel me to glory.

The week before November 1st I spent scribbling things down on index cards: sketches of characters, possible locations, potential plot points. I did a lot of this in bars, as it seemed to help - or at least, I liked drinking while doing it. As the kick-off date approached I felt ready to literally explode all over the page (ewwwww!). And at 12:01 am on Thursday the 1st of November, 2001, I did exactly that.

In the first three days of November 2001 I wrote 15,000 words. I was almost euphoric as I let loose a torrent of prose, ignoring my inner editor and just pouring everything out. I wrote during my lunch hour. I wrote after work. I wrote on the weekend. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote some more.

There were various things I found that helped during the month. I found I liked writing in pubs. I would take my laptop and some cds to a bar and find a seat at a table next to an electrical outlet. I would then order a schooner of beer, put a cd on, put my headphones in, and pound away on the keyboard. I discovered it took me about 45 minutes to consume the beer, which is about as long as a cd takes to play. When the cd finished I would shut down the laptop, pack everything away, go to the bathroom, order another beer, take out my laptop again and lather, rinse, repeat.

One thing I noticed was people's reactions to what I was doing. With my headphones on, typing frantically, it was obvious I wasn't compiling a presentation to give to my department on "Best Practices for Onboarding Customers to Existing Products". Every so often someone would come up to me and motion that they wanted to ask me something. After I had taken my headphones off they would inevitably would ask me what I was doing.

"Writing a novel," I would answer cheerfully.

This usually elicited an excited response. Some people would want to know if I was published, etc. It was then that I would explain the whole writing a novel in a month thing. Strangely, this was usually greeted with an even stronger respone; generally people thought it was one of the coolest things they had ever heard of. That's some pretty good validation, right there.

I would also write at home, fuelled by a steady diet of Victoria Bitter and Tooheys New. When I had made the decision to have a tilt at NaNoWriMo I gave myself the tacit allowance to do whatever the hell I wanted to do to get there, up to and including embracing my nascent alcoholism. Most nights I would knock back beer after beer while I listened to the Dandy Warhols and wrote paragraph after paragraph. If I was feeling good about what I had written, and had consumed enough alcohol, sometimes I would then venture out to a pub for some more drinking, but leaving the laptop at home.

That first Friday, November 2nd, was such an evening. By 10pm or so I had consumed a bunch of beer, but my novel was also sitting at 10,000 or so words already. I was feeling extremely good, so I decided to head out to the local backpacker's pub for a pint or three. I kept to myself as I consumed my beers, observing the crowd. The next Tuesday, with close to 20,000 words under my belt, I did it again. The pub was much quieter this time, but at the bar I noticed this cute girl and her friend who I had seen on Friday night. Infused with self-worth and liquid courage I walked up to her and uttered the immortal lines: "Hi! You were here on Friday as well. I've just finished writing a chapter, what's your excuse?" She was Irish, her name was Ann Marie, and we were together for 18 months.

While I wasn't able to keep up my insane starting pace I was still able to keep my momentum. I raced past 50,000 words but kept writing, as my narrative was not yet complete. On November 28th I finally typed "The End". I had written over 74,0000 words in four weeks. And it felt fantastic.

The next year I tried a repeat dose. This time I tried my hand at some Science Fiction, but found it tough going. Maybe it was because I hadn't really thought about it much, or this time I let my internal editor into my head, or maybe it was just something else. Still, I applied myself as best I could, and limped over the 50,000 word line.

In 2003 I was in the middle of changing countries. 2004 and 2005 I can't really recall, though last year I almost made a pact with an old friend of mine to do it, but at the last moment we both gave it away like complete pansies.

And this year? In a completely innocent move, I purchased a MacBook last week. Just after that I began discovering that Imaginary Internet Friends of mine were intending to bust out the NaNoWriMo-icity, and one of them in particular began encouraging me to dive into it once more. Initially I was reluctant; after all, an old friend of mine is showing up this week and staying with me for a few days, plus I'll be out of town most weekends this month. And, you know, I fear committment.

But now, you see, I've started thinking about it. Formulating possibilities. I think I have a main character. I may not have a narrative arc, or really any semblance of a narrative at all, but as they say in NaNoWriMoLand: "No plot, no problem!".

If I do decide to take the plunge, I will let you know. The extra guilt and pressure can only help me across the finish line.


  • Thanks for the continued Peyton Pimpage.

    Also, I'm doing the Nanoeoia;vbkwromo thing and after failing miserably last year, despite coming out of the gate firing on most cylinders, I've got a better idea and think I'll be calling the deadline my bitch with days to spare.

    Good luck on the book and also on winning the Bobby Bracelet/Donkey Puncher/Alcanthang HUGE package.

    By Blogger Huge Junk, at 3:57 PM  

  • I like DC. A lot. And the bitches there? They love me long time.

    So make it happen.

    Good luck on NaNo. If you ever need words to describe the process for changing a dirty diaper at 5am, just let me know.

    I'll hook you up.

    For a footnote.

    By Blogger Donkeypuncher, at 4:57 PM  

  • I am here to encourage you to do it again! Or enable you to do it again. And this Saturday, I'm gonna get drunk, write a chapter and go pick up an Irish girl in your honor!

    By Blogger Joe Speaker, at 6:40 PM  

  • Garth mon cher, j'espère que vous écrivez un roman pour le NaNo.

    It's my first...and the more the merrier!

    Umm...hey...that didn't sound quite right.

    By Blogger katitude, at 6:47 PM  

  • 45 minutes to drink a beer? That is madness! You may as well call it soup after 30.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:30 PM  

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