Friday, September 23, 2011

To NaNoWriMo, or not to NaNoWriMo...

To NaNo, or not to NaNo...

That is the question.

Last year was a big year for me. I decided to really push my writing by signing up to compete in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and going to Dave Farland's Writer's Death Camp. Since the Death Camp started November 6th, I figured that would be the perfect time to start my NaNoWriMo project.

Now, keep in mind that I'd never actually finished a novel before. The one that I came closest to finishing went down in flames when I learned that there was NO chance of selling it. (Lucas Film has this thing that you can't write Star Wars novels unless you're on their approved author list and you can't get on that list unless you've written something they've liked.)

So, I show up at the Death Camp with only an idea of the story I want to write. You know what I forgot?

A lot of plotting and research.

It seems that writers do a LOT of research into the stories they're going to tell. Most of it revolves around character and world building, but I showed up with only the idea of a general plot coupled with a few characters. Fortunately, I managed, with the tolerance of my writing group, to catch up. Seven months later, I'm banging down the last third of the novel I so horrendously began last November.

So, NaNoWriMo is nearing again and I promised myself I wouldn't begin another novel without research. But last night I realized that if I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year, now is the time to start doing my research. Then again, I also promised myself I wouldn't start a new project until I'm done with the old one.

Either I need an aggressive writing goal or I need sit back and enjoy the journey.


"To do, or not to do, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The lack of sleep and aching hands,
Or to take caffeine against a crushing word count,
And by opposing end them?"

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Miss My Pants

Last year I was thirty pounds lighter. I know because my bathroom scale has a 'save' feature, which now shows a little up arrow followed by the number thirty-two.

Why did I say thirty instead of thirty-two? Mind your own business.

So, I'm looking at my gut in the mirror. You remember those old commercials where these kids find a fat belly someone lost on the beach? Well, it looks like that, but with these wings of blubber that sweep around the side. Picturesque, I know.

I groan. "I've got to lose this weight. Again."

Except that since I wasn't saying it outloud, it was more like: 
I've got to lose this weight. Again.
You know... in my head.

Next, I do some arm flexing. Arm flexing makes guys feel better. We have visions of being recruited by Journey and using Kung Fu to school Chuck Norris. I quickly realize it's been ten months since I seriously weight trained. My arms are (apart from pasty white)... normal... now.

I look myself in the eye... I mean... I look my reflection in the eye, and shake my head.

*Sigh* My reflection hangs his head in shame.

Nobody gives me a guilt trip like I give myself a guilt trip.

With slumped shoulders, I walk into the closet and start pulling out pants. I'm a blue jeans kinda guy and I have seven pairs coupled with seven pairs of jean shorts. Unfortunately, when I lost all my weight, I gave all my fat boy jeans to Deseret Industries and bought new ones. That's what you do when you lose weight, right? You celebrate by getting a new wardrobe!

Currently, I have two pair of jeans and two pair of shorts that 'fit' and that's stretching the truth (Ha! A double entendre).

Fortunately, my diet cycles tend to be able to drop fourteen pounds in two to three weeks, so I know I'm only three weeks away from having my 'new' clothes back. That doesn't sound too bad. Especially since I don't look forward to having to buy back my fat boy jeans...
Chuck Norris Killing Fat!

I need a Reese's Big Cup.

Does Slim Fast have that flavor?

P.S.  Since I mentioned my good friend Chuck Norris, did you know that he was in all the Star Wars movies as, 'The Force?'

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Worldcon Lessons

Friday and Saturday nights, I dreamed I was back at Worldcon. The dreams were very vivid and felt like they took up the whole night. I would wake from one and drift into another. Like the bathroom breaks between the convention panels.

So in my dream, I'm schmoozing a lot of editors when I realize that none of the ones I'm kibitzing with, are ones that are relevant to my writing. For instance, the guy I was chatting with Friday night, was a school book editor and he was asking me where my desire to write textbooks came from. Naturally I made something up. I didn't want to offend the guy since he was being so nice to me. Maybe I'm just afraid my writing is that bad and I'm doomed to write non-stop boredom.

(Remember, none of this really happened.)

Anyway, I realize the real reason for all this insanity is that I was thinking about Worldcon at work on Friday because a good friend wants to hit Worldcon in Chicago next year. But, to be honest, I wasn't that impressed with this one. I felt some of the panels were weak to say the least, even though it was fun watching authors, editors, and agents chat about various topics. And while it was interesting seeing the costumes and quirkiness of fandom, I was there to work.

I assessed everything my writing group and I did during the whole convention and was wondering what we could have done more. This made me remember what Dave Wolverton/Farland said at our Writer's Death Camp. He told us, that when we go to these conventions, we should go sit in the hotel's bar and stay there. When the agents/editors come in to relax a bit, we strike up a conversation and talk about their work and the industry with them. Find out what they like and what they're looking for. Then if the opportunity presents itself, we pitch our book.

The convention itself hosts two types of great networking opportunities: the Kaffeeklatch and the Literary Beer. Both were held in noisy halls, where it was sometimes hard to hear. But at least, with six other people, you got a chance at some face time.

As I thought about the convention on the whole though, I wondered if we should have skipped some of the panels and been offering to take editors out to lunch or dinner. Chat over a soda and such. Or at least looked for extra opportunities to have conversations with them. My writing group doesn't come off as rabid dogs and I think we might have garnered extra time with the editors of our choice. But we're so new to 'cons,' that we didn't think outside the box. Looking at Shaun Ferrall's photos on the Adventures in Sci-Fi Publishing site, that guy was everywhere. His superior ninja networking skills totally put us to shame. And he was only there for one day! He obviously knows how to optimize his time and made great contacts.

There were also three floors of parties going on at the Atlantis, and we only went to the floor with the Tor party. Granted, the Tor party is the one everyone must attend, but what did we miss on the other two floors? Would we have ran into Lee Harris (editor for Angry Robot) and had a nice chat? The world will never know... (Besides, we saw him pressed in the throng at the Tor party, but were too scared to strike up a conversation.)

Maybe Worldcon isn't about the workshop and is actually all about the networking. That's what I think Dave Wolverton was talking about when he mentioned sitting at the bar. Sure there's lots of interesting things to see, but you're there to meet people. To talk with the people in your 'field' and make friendships with them so that you have the connections to get your work looked at.

What it really boils down to, is that with one Worldcon under my belt, I'm not as intimidated by approaching the people I want to talk to. They're genuinely nice people looking for writers with great stories and personalities they can work with.

Will I go to another Worldcon? Maybe. There are a lot of cons around and some are more focused than others. It wouldn't hurt to explore my world. One thing is certain though: there will always be someone there to talk to about the industry and writing.

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