Don't Shake the Flask

Because you don't know if it'll explode

Month: December, 2010

Finally, I’ve Written ‘The End’

Ending a story always feels a little anticlimatic, maybe because in my mind’s eye, I’ve already seen the ending coming by the time I’ve reached the next to the last chapter.  But this year’s Nanowrimo novel is finally done.  I also have to acknowledge everyone who either generously or inadvertently contributed dares to the novel.  I couldn’t have done it without you guys.

Each year, I try something a little different.  This is what I’ve done with Dining with Small Monsters (which can be read in its entirety here) that hasn’t been done in previous Nanowrimo projects:

-Delibrately trying to write something funny.
-Actually finishing a sci-fi novel, even if it ended up bleeding through half of December.
-Writing my longest work yet at 107,276 words.
-Writing a novel consisting solely of dares.

With that said, read at your own risk!

* * *

One would think that after finishing, I would be completely burned out with writing.  Well, not so.  I’m not burned out on everything.  I just feel burned out because I’ve had to deal with the Nanowrimo Book Drive.  I really don’t want to see another book drive box for a while.

I’m already thinking about ideas of what to do for JanNoWriMo, January’s version of Nanowrimo, which is scarily only two weeks away.  My goal is to use this as a trial run for what I might be doing for the next Nanowrimo.  So while getting 50,000 words in January is good, I’m not completely betting on it because:

-I am writing the entire story by hand.
-In cursive.

As for exactly what the story is about, plot-wise, I am not quite sure.  But the setting will be inspired by the Art Deco movement and the main character will be a woman with one normally functioning eye.  Her other eye is damaged, but it can still see…things.  Weird things.  After November’s comedy, I may end up going for the serious this time around.  We’ll see.

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Progress from the Sixth Week

The end is slowly inching closer.  In any case, I will have to finish this before I leave for Winter Break.  I can’t really imagine actually doing any writing while I’m running around in Vegas searching for Elvis. (Yeah, I can hardly believe it, too.  I will be physically in Vegas.  On Saturday.)  And as of this writing, I’m semi-freaking out about getting samples ready to run in lab while I’m away and drawing the Great Nanowrimo Book Drive to a close.  I don’t know how professional fundraisers do this.  It’s frustrating, stressful, and less productive than a research paper with null results.  And on top of all of this, my computer died spectacularly for the second time this year.

Anyways, I’m planning to have pies involved in the final showdown with the villain.

Here’s a small excerpt from the stuff I’ve written in the past week (but have yet to post on my website because of the dead computer issue):

From Part IXc:

“I thought you didn’t want to lose to a gerbil,” I said as he stared at the board, contemplating the jerboa’s latest move.  The rodent was chirping smugly as if it had just figured out a strategy to crush the cyborg.  In one paw, it held a half-eaten vegetable snack as a taunt.  For some reason, I felt a little sorry for the cyborg.  His enhancements with nanobots was not going to do him any good.

“Since I figured that I wasn’t going to get to take you out to dinner, I might as well go the whole way and lose to a rodent as well,” he said.  His expression and tone didn’t change when he said that which made me unsure of whether he was joking with a deadpan voice or if he was really serious.

“Why are you still hung up on that?”

He shrugged.  “Who says that I am?”  He moved one of the chess pieces and then he grinned.  “And what if I say I was?”

I grabbed one of the chess pieces that the gerbil had checkmated already and threw it at his head.  “You idiot!  If you try to falsely play on my sympathies, I’m going to strangle you.”  It bounced and smacked Vik in the forehead before landing on the floor.  The head holographic projectionist snorted in his sleep, squirmed a little in his chair, and then yawned as he blinked his eyes.

“What was that?” Vik asked after another yawn.

“A lover’s spat ,” George said, without looking up from his program.

The cyborg shook his head.  “No, it’s Euphie’s version of foreplay.”

I threw another chess piece.  It bounced harmlessly off the cyborg and hit Vik again.

“Ow!”

“If I had that revolver, I’d shoot you dead, bolt-bucket.”

Progress from the Fifth Week

I’m sort of burned out from last week.  And frankly, I kind of feel bummed that my efforts came all to naught in the end.  I wrote like a demon until almost the zero hour (you can see my progress under “NaNo Stats” here).  And still, Coeur d’Alene beat my region.  I think it was a combination of complacency (another heroic participant wrote enough for eight and a half people so almost everyone else thought they didn’t have to write as much) and a sense of “it’s done, so I don’t have to do any more.”  Oh sure, our region did manage to beat another neighboring region in the word war, but I felt it was a rather empty victory.  Even though Pullman didn’t win the word war, they did, however, have more people cross the 50k finish line.

And I think, right there, is why despite my efforts at trying to making Nanowrimo an awesome event for everyone, I feel like such a failure as a municipal liaison.  It isn’t about how many words you can write in a day–it’s about actually completing the goal you’ve set for yourself.  There are, of course, people who have legitamitely tried to get to 50k and didn’t make it or those who’ve had real life stuff simply overwhelm them and that cannot be changed.  But then there are those who do not even try.

Some people view writing a novel like some sort of painful artistic endeavor.  They moan about only being able to write in certain locations or certain situations.  It can only be done one way, they think.  And when they get stuck only a few thousand words in, they give up.  And since no one is fawning over their writing skills like they’re the next Hemingway, they figure–what’s the point?  And don’t try again.  My philosophy as a municipal liaison is that I’m there to get people to finish their novels.  Get the work done!  I’m not here to give anyone (probably undeserving) praise.

I see other participants who’ve had crazy things happen to them in November like having babies, having relatives die, work exploding, real life imploding, falling in love, moving across the country, spiraling into depression, having health crises–and yet they manage to finish.  This makes me wonder why other people who have so much more free time and less stress in their lives don’t finish.  So yeah, I sometimes expect more out of people than I really should expect.  Then I get disappointed.  And grumble about it like a cranky old man.

After reaching 90k at the very end of the month, I did not write anything for an entire day.  However, since then, I have been making progress, albeit very slowly.  I’m so close to the end of the story that I feel that it would be kind of a shame to let it languish even before the year is out.

Here are two excerpts from Dining with Small Monsters for the curious:

From Part IXa:

I looked at the vial. A few centimeters away from my face, it finally came into focus. At first, the translator on my eye screen did not respond. But then it started working. The script wavered and then came back into focus in Galactic Standard. “Whale pheromones,” I read slowly.

“What the hell does that mean?” said George.

“I know! I know!” said Vik excitedly. “It means whale pheromones!”

Everyone glared at him.

“Pheromones,” he repeated. “You know, chemical cues. I’ve heard that a lot of cultures use these chemical cues, particularly sexual chemical cues extracted from a variety of animals, as perfumes. The point of it is, of course, to attract the opposite sex if you happen to swing that way. It seems to be pretty popular.”

“I have no use for whale pheromones,” George said as I handed him back the bottle. “No amount of perfume will make me attractive to anyone.”

“Don’t be so down, George,” said Annette. “You just haven’t found the perfect person yet.”

“Everyone says that,” the sensory technician said with a sigh.

From Part IXb:

“Oh for blue’s sake, I am not doing the fucking filming out there,” I pointed out. “I can do it just fine in here. I can maneuver the shuttle’s feeds and adjust for magnification…”

Mot stared at me. “Euphie, you’re coming out here with me. Or else.”

And that was why I ended up suiting up as well. As I attached my holographic recording equipment on my shoulder, the cyborg handed me my helmet.

“Make sure you attach the safety line,” he said. “You have no idea what may happen out there. No one’s been able to study the space whale in depth.”

“No kidding,” I replied.

The jerboa, which was sitting on a ledge along the shuttle wall, gave me an encouraging chirp.

You can read more here.

The End of a Decade of Nanowrimo

Congratulations to everyone who managed to plow through this year’s Nanowrimo!  Whether you’ve crossed the 50k benchmark or only managed to write a couple hundred words, you did awesome.  While writing an entire novel within a month is the goal–and the primary point of having Nanowrimo in the first place–that’s not exactly its philosophical purpose.  I admit, I’m old school when it comes to this writing contest.  I personally adhere strictly to the rules as they were originally intended.  But in truth, doing Nanowrimo means ending procrastination and starting to write regularly.  It’s about really starting something and not just mouthing the words, “I’ll do it someday.”

This is my tenth “win” for Nanowrimo.  For all the years that I’ve participated in this, I’ve never lost.  But it doesn’t get old.  Every year, I’ve challenged myself to do something different, to make the whole thing more exciting and nail-biting.  Maybe it’s a change in genres or a change in point-of-view.  This year, my entire novel (or what is there so far*) has consisted of dares even though I’ve made a general outline ahead of time.

I will say that it kind of got hairy there a couple of times on the last day.  I tried to fit in some writing during my lunch break at lab and my concentration was broken by a loud, chatty prof and a loud, whiny undergrad.  And in the last hour at the write-in, the people at the bagel shop decided to play annoying music really, really loudly.  Even my earphones could not drown out the noise.  But despite it all, I wrote.

As for next year?  Well, of course I’m going to do it all again.  But next time, I’m going to hand write everything.  And I will document my daily progress with photos and/or scans.

*The novel itself is currently at 90,002 words.  It is not finished.  That’s why I’m still writing the rest of the week.  I’ll post another update once I actually finish this thing.