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21/10/2014
by lodo
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NaNoWriMo 2014

National November Writing Month is almost here.

NaNoWriMo, is a challenge that’s been going for 15 years where people try to write a novel in 30 days. Participants do not compete against each other, but you win the challenge by writing at least 50,000 words during the competition. The idea is that, since 30 days is not a lot of time to write 50,000 words, especially if writing is not your day job, you can’t afford to waste your limited time and energy worrying about making everything perfect from the first draft. You are forced to just write, to get it all out on the paper, even if it’s shit. You are forced to overcome your self-doubt because there’s no time for that right now. You can worry about making a second, third or nth draft, editing and fixing stuff later. There are very few rules, and any type of writing is allowed, so you can write a novel, but you can participate by writing poetry, an essay, a movie script, your PhD dissertation, or anything else for that matter, as long as you do it in the 30 days of the competition. More precise information can be found on their website, nanowrimo.org.

So I’m participating in this thing. Again. For the fourth time. The first two years I had a record of 0.00 words written. Last year, I wrote about 4500 words (more, if you count what I wrote in my notebook but never transferred to a file where I could count the words). That’s an improvement of ∞%.

This year I don’t need to write infinity more words than the last, just ten times more. I have just bought a new coffee maker thing and found a brand of coffee that I like (a blend of beans from Oaxaca, Chiapas and Coatepec, if you know what that means), I have an external battery so I can write on my phone without worrying about power, I have a special trial version of Scrivener that comes when signing up for NaNoWriMo, and I have the benefit of being so sick of school that writing doesn’t feel like extra work as much as it feels like a release. I also have an idea.

Although I obviously didn’t write anything for the first two years, so far I’ve always tried to use the competition to write about the same universe. This universe has been brewing in my head for many years and I’m always coming up with new ideas set on it that I’ve never been able to cultivate into something more concrete. Though I did make a significant progress last year, and I was able to set some things in motion that might one day become an actual novel, it’s probably for the best that this time I’m doing something different. It’s a new universe, a different genre, and I think it has great potential for future projects to be set in it. I know what I want the first scene to be like, I know how I want the protagonist to get out of that first scene and what his/her childhood was like. I know some of the dad’s story. I know some of the things I want to see happen, and some of the things I want the reader to see, because I have seen those images since I was a kid. Now it’s just a matter of trying to convey those images.

I probably suck as a writer at this point. But the only thing I can do is keep writing until the stink goes away or I stop noticing it.

If you want to join me and all the other dudes and chicks trying to write like crazy for 30 days, check out the NaNoWriMo site, set up your account, create a placeholder for your novel or whatever it is you’ll write, and prepare yourself for November 1.

16/06/2014
by lodo
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Confession of a hack

I’ll be honest and not try to dress up the truth. My writing is crap. I like the idea of writing. I have memories of sitting down with an idea and just letting he idea come out, letting it plaster itself in paper like light leaving its traces on film, and leaving a story that even I am excited about reading. Now I don’t even know if those memories are real. It’s been way too long since those moments supposedly happened, and it may very well be that I always wrote crap and just didn’t realize it.
People used to tell me that I wrote like Garcia-Marquez. They were probably being nice, but let’s imagine for a moment that I did. At the time I felt annoyed. I didn’t like his writing and wanted to be different, not one of the many that tried and failed to reproduce his style. Maybe if I had explored that route, I would at least be a little more readable right now.
But I did not, and it may have something to do that I’ve written almost nothing. I was only enamoired with the idea if me the writer, but didn’t really walk the walk. Just kept thinking my time would come later and for now I’d just relax, biding my time until the great idea came. Then it would be just a question of start writing and riding on the free ride that was my raw, unbounded talent.
But that never happened, did it? And if I ever was somewhat decent, that time is gone, if my talent was ever there, it’s now impeded by the gooey gunk that is my self-doubt and lack of writing momentum. So the idea of what to do comes easily: maybe I should just write.
I used to have many ideas, many characters coming alive in my head, but didn’t nurture them, told them that they should wait until they could live out their lives. But they couldn’t wait forever. They’re now all dead and now I’ve forgotten their names and what they looked like. I forgot who their parents and children were, and what their lives were like.
Maybe I should just start writing and let all the crap that’s going to come out, come out. Maybe when I’m out of crap, the good stuff will start showing.
Well, then why write crap and publish it? Why not wait until I have something worth reading?
So I got this blog. I’ve had this website for ten years and have never done anything with it. Honestly, the thing that’s forcing me to write is the feeling that I get every time it’s time to pay for the hosting and domain name and knowing it’s just sitting there accumulating dust. So he idea is that I might as well use if for something, like posting my crap writing until it’s no longer crap. Assuming I eventually get better, I guess it will be interesting to see how crap evolves into not crap. If I don’t get better, it might be a good case study about how not to be a talentless hack that won’t admit he’s got no chance.
I don’t need anybody telling me I suck. I already know it, but I think I’m going to let the comments section open so I can get feedback if anybody cares enough to leave any. At least the spambots should give me some entertainment in my hours of boredom. So what do you think, hypothetical reader? Any tips for getting out of a 15-year rut?