Novel Progress Update:

Well, I seem to have got stuck right after I started page 15. Not that I couldn’t think of anything to write, but that something about the way my mind operates prevents me from getting anything worthwhile done while other people are around & awake. I was starting page 15 on Saturday and my roommate came home and didn’t leave again until just before my Sunday night block of TV started, so no more work got done.

My roommate announced that she is moving out, which could help, except that she’s probably not moving out until the end of the month, so … that doesn’t really help. She’s unemployed, to boot, so she’s ALWAYS hanging around the house doing nothing, which makes me want to hang around the house doing nothing with her. I mean, if she were getting something done, I wouldn’t have much trouble getting something done myself. I got some really good work done in the yard this afternoon by convincing her to work in the yard with me. I know that if she were just going too be sitting inside doing nothing or watching TV, i would have had a very hard time motivating myself to get any of it done.

I realize that this is a major psychological problem that could prevent me from getting a lot of worthwhile work done as my life goes on, but … I’ve always believed that it was a part of my empathy. That I’m in tune with the people around me. So that if there are people around getting things done, I’m automatically on the same wavelength and want to get similar things done. It is easy for me to do yardwork if someone else is doing yardwork at the same time. It is easy for me to clean up around the house if someone else is cleaning up around the house. It is easy for me to br creative and get a lot of work done on writing or painting or drawing or whatever else if someone else is doing something creative as well. If the only person or persons around are vegging out, their inertia gets to me. Until they reach deep sleep.

When everyone in my viscinity is sleeping, really deeply sleeping, I have no more trouble self-motivating than if I were alone. Perhaps even have an easier time doing all things creative, being in tune with nearby people’s dreaming minds. So, when I am alone, or when everyone is asleep, I am up to my own mind about what to do, and at all other times I must go with the flow or try to redirect other people’s flow to match what I need to get done.

Procrastination power

I won’t tell you I didn’t see this one coming. I know how I work.

So, you wouldn’t believe how much I’ve got done since I was supposed to start writing a book less than 24 hours ago. I managed to go to bed earlier than usual last night. I was asleep before I was allowed to start working on the novel at all. I woke up early enough this morning to eat breakfast, make lunch, and get to work on time without going crazy fast. At work today, I found a small bug in the way I wrote the code that sorts entries; a little difference between how Moveable Type puts out date/time info, and how PHP expects to read it. I then spent a large chunk of my between calls time modifying nearly one hundred different files in the backend of the website fixing the problem. I didn’t even have the chance to get started on Cryptonomicon.

Then when I came home, I lounged about for an hour watching Ground Force and Changing Rooms on the BBC. I followed that by mowing the front side yard and the back yard. Here’s an interesting aside: Angela and I were discussing the matter (She was kind enough to assist me by raking the clipping in the front and some of what was in the back. She did break a rake handle somehow though,) and she wondered aloud what it was about the yard that made it take so long to mow it. She wanted to know how long it would take, and expected an answer in a number of days. I asked her why she asked, and she responded sincerely that “it always takes me so long to mow the yard.” I informed her that I had mowed the yard a total of zero times since she moved in. I suppose that that really is a long time to mow the lawn. She’s been here since … November, I think. So, I guess it took me … six months to mow the lawn. It was suprizingly easy to mow, considering.

Then I watched Enterprise and Drew Carey and made dinner (Beef and bean burritos) and now I’m in here checking my email and posting on my website, and if you asked for a wordcount on my novel, it would still be zero. Luckily for all parties involved, I did come up with a genuinely good idea for a novel, and with any luck will be able to get it out of my head and onto paper for everyone to read. Or no one to read. Depends on how it all comes out, I guess.

So now I’m trying to decide whether to go watch Ed and Felicity (Hooray, they’re turning back time and she isn’t going to end up with Ben! Noel was always the right choice!) or to clean off the table, break out a manual typewriter and get knock some pages out. I know what YOU think I should do. You don’t REALLY watch TV yourself. Your answer is biased.

Novel vs. Novella

I have been getting a lot of backtalk for over a month now that a novel of 50,000 words is not a novel, but a novella. First, I would like to remind my audience that 50,000 words is the bare minimum number required. It is not a goal I am aiming to meet, to the word. In fact, I hope to be able to surpass it easily. Second, I want to let you in on some research I’ve done on the subject:

Major publishers in America will (generally) not even consider an unpublished author’s first novel unless it is between 60,000 and 70,000 words. I guess many first-time writers write much, much more than that. Still, the industry standard for first-published novels is not far from the bare minimum asked of MENoWriMo.

The Encyclopedia Britannica says of the novel that it is “an invented prose narrative of considerable length and a certain complexity that deals imaginatively with human experience, usually through a connected sequence of events involving a group of persons in a specific setting,” and that novellas are “short and well-structured narrative, often realistic and satiric in tone … Originating in Italy during the Middle Ages, the novella was based on local events that were humorous, political, or amorous in nature.” According to this, it is very possible that one or more of the books written for MENoWriMo will in fact be a novella, depending upon whether it is “based on local events that were humorous, political, or amorous in nature.”

More than one major publisher has pegged their average novel around 80,000 words. Clearly this is half again as long as the minimum length for a MENoWriMo, but this is still only about 320 pages, and not what I would consider a “long” novel. A MENoWriMo novel can’t be much shorter than 200 pages, if printed to industry specifications. Sure, I won’t be writing the next Cryptonomicon (918 pages) or Snow Crash (471 pages), but that doesn’t mean I won’t be writing a novel.

Depending upon the content, of course.

MY NoWriMo

I’m stuck in a weird place tonight. I have been for a few hours. I’m tired, and I don’t really have the ability to stay up past midnight actually getting any useful work done and still make it to work in the morning, but I also have such anticipation of the official start time that I’m feeling anxious. Like somehow at midnight it will all come to me and I’ll hammer out a novel in one night. Or .. I certainly don’t know what. I’ve been doing what I can to limit thinking ahead about what i want to do for my own novel for a few reasons. I was chatting with Sara earlier today, and I noticed that in her timezone, May was only 40 minutes away, while I still had to wait nearly 10 hours. She told me that she probably wouldn’t even get started for another 10 days (for the very reasonable explanation of “finals”), and I wasn’t sure what my reaction should be. I know I’m feeling cramped by a month already. Maybe because I haven’t been thinking ahead. Maybe because I finished Snow Crash today and found out that it had taken around three years to write.

Of course, MENoWriMo is not intended by for to churn out novels of the quality of Snow Crash. That book had crazy amounts of research folded into it. MENoWriMo novels should be nearly the antithesis of that work. We are talking about wordcount here, not research and quality. Wordcount. Still, I don’t know how safe it would be for me to try to take weeks off. Heck, I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do about TV. Break out tapes and watch every show’s final 3-4 episodes after they air? I can’t do that entirely, since a lot of my favorite programming runs opposite my other favorite programs, sometimes three at a time. Yargh!

Only an hour and a half to go. I hope I can sleep. Maybe I should stay up, eat the rest of that Watermelon, and go to bed when I’ve relaxed. I thought about grabbing a book and reading it until I became tired, but then I worry that I will find myself writing like the author I’m reading. Then I think that that wouldn’t be too bad, but … I don’t know what to think. the sorts of things I’ve been reading lately, I’ll probably end up writing some very hard sci-fi. If you didn’t know sci-fi came in hard, then you’d probably not like hard sci-fi. I’m going to try to find something else to distract me from this.

Not money though. I’ll just stress out. I keep worrying that I won’t be able to afford to make all my payments or that I’ll end up paying too much in interest. I know I’m not in any sort of financial catastrophe, that I will certainly be able to pay all my bills, and that with the sort of debt I’ve gotten myself under the idea of “too much debt” is really just a matter of degrees. No need to worry. Worry won’t change anything. Only calm, rational planning can do any good where money is concerned. Calm and rational is not what I am right now, though. Else I’d be in bed hours ago.


So recently I mentioned briefly that I am planning on writing a novel in a month. This was inspired by National Novel Writing Month, a project I may or may not be able to participate in when November finally rolls around, but which I appreciate and encourage you to take a look into. I encourage you to take a look into it, because I’m going to be mirroring it here/at Modern Evil in the month of May. There are a variety of reasons for choosing May, the easiest to explain is that it’s 6 months removed from NaNoWriMo. And I have been recently informed (no, I don’t look at calendars much) that May even has one more day than November to try to get your novel done.

That’s right. Your novel. I want you to join me. I already have several people who will be writing novels in the month of May, and I want to get as many people involved as possible. It’ll be a Modern Evil Novel Writing Month. I’ve just created a new discussion forum on the subject, so we can all share tales of our progress/writer’s block and how trying to write a novel is interfering with our lives. I’m considering creating blog-like pages for people to post their work as they write it (if they like), and I’m thinking of contacting the people behind the real NaNoWriMo to let them know what we’re doing here.

If you’re too lazy to actually go to the NaNoWriMo website and read their FAQ, their extended FAQ, and their further extended FAQ, I’ll lay out the basic guidelines for you here:

1. People looking to write classy, complex novels should not participate. People looking to get extensive feedback and people who take their writing very seriously should also go elsewhere.
2. Start writing not before 00:00:01 local time, Wednesday, May 1st.
3. Write a novel of at least 50,000 words by 23:59:59 local time, Friday, May 31st.
4. All participants must be working on the same deadline.
5. You cannot write one word 50,000 times. That is neither novel, nor a novel.
6. 50,000 words is not a limit, it is a goal. If your story requires more words, write them!
7. Outlines are encouraged. Notes are encouraged. Partially written chapters are punishable by death.
8. Take a look at these tips and strategy for getting a novel done in a month.

That pretty much covers the guidelines and conveys the mood of what we’re trying to do here. “NaNoWriMo is all about the magical power of deadlines. Give someone a goal and a goal-minded community and miracles are bound to happen. Pies will be eaten at amazing rates. Sheep will be herded like never before. And novels will be written in a month.” (from the NaNoWriMo website) MENoWriMo is about the same things, but it is also about being too impatient to wait for November and turning Modern Evil’s most avid readers into novelists.

Anyone who emails me a completed novel of 50,000 words or more by 00:00:01 Saturday, June 1st will have the opportunity to have it hosted on Modern Evil, or just read by a friend. In fact, I’ll gladly send my completed novel to anyone who sends me theirs, well in advance of putting any of them online. More importantly, anyone who completes a novel before June 1st will have a personal sense of satisfaction that comes from having been part of this whole thing, and having written your own novel.

I can’t think of anything else to say about this right now, but feel free to email me at if you’re interested in joining us, have any questions, or just wanted to express your dissatisfaction with the way I live my life.