Just because I haven’t harped on about it enough already, the NaNoWriMo website resets today. Planning is well underway already (Free Fall Fridays #1), but I thought I’d basically just copy over to here what is already due to be posted on my profile, as well as a few added extras.
The Word Count
The more I try and think of ways to approach this, the more I’m feeling as though I’ll come off as arrogant for detailing it, but please, please bear with me – I’m not saying it to be cocky, but hopefully, what I’m about to write next should explain it somewhat;
The first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, 50,000 words seemed like this impossible stretch that I’d never, ever, achieve. My longest work up until then clocked out at around 33,000 words, collectively written over a period of two, nearly three, years. I made it, eventually, after about ten days of not writing and simply lamenting the fact that I couldn’t come up with anything to keep the story flowing. I got to around 53,000 words in the end, but the latter half of the story is one of those things; I just don’t talk about it, it’s that bad. Nonetheless, I came away with my first, complete story that wasn’t fan fiction, after a battle with myself to keep plugging away at it. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I didn’t give up.
With this in mind, I came back with a vengeance in 2009, a plot that had been sparked by an advertisement about the Swine Flu vaccination, and eventually, an outline of each chapter, character profiles, and quite a lot to go on. ‘I’m aiming for 75,000, if I can manage it,’ I said. I hit 75k somewhere around week 2 with no idea of how I had done it – last year, it had been so damn hard, so why had it come so easy this time around? In the end, I continued on to the end of the story, seeing as I had the time, which took me to somewhere around 121,000. With the month still not over, yet, I pushed on to 150,000 with a variety of random character background stories, and one of those works I tend to start but never finish.
When it came time for last year’s NaNo event, it only seemed sensible to set myself a similar target as in 2009 – part of the enjoyment, for me, is the feverish rush of typing and frantic coffee/energy drunk guzzling that comes in the last few days of NaNoWriMo. I didn’t quite have that in 2009, so wanted to up the ante this year to 200,000 words. I think I got complacent somewhere around week 3. I’d exceeded my total from last year, I thought, is it really the end of the world if I don’t hit it? I sat back. Relaxed too much and ended up around 20k short of my goal … this would have hit me harder had I not actually finished my story. Which, by the way, is still as terrible as ever.
So I’m reprising last year’s goal this year. 200,000 words by 11:59:59 pm GMT on November 30th. I have my doubts about hitting it this year, of course; I don’t want to spin my story out to meet my goal, but rather pick up another story if my first one ends in time. I estimate that Free Fall should take me up to around 120,000 if I’m lucky, so the other 80,000 could easily become a short novel in itself, and I’m guessing this is what I’ll do. What has let me down in the past with these post-NaNo Novel Novels is that I haven’t planned them out at all, so I feel that if I have two solid plans (Free Fall being my primary one, the one I intend to focus most upon) I might just make it.
If not, I’ll be downing energy drinks, coffee, and possibly even rum, deep into the night.
I enjoy designing covers … not enough to warrant me finishing that Art & Design Btec, but enough to do it in my own free time. Unfortunately, these are a little rough around the edges, being as my Photoshop free trials have all run out now, and I can’t really be bothered to sort it out yet, I had to create them with GIMP. Which is all fine and good, but the image quality always suffers every time I use it, and, oh, yeah … I can’t make more than maybe one or two edits before it decides to inform me that it has ‘encountered a problem and needs to close.’ It took me maybe an hour longer to create these than it should have done.
I had a more complicated design in the works for a while, but honestly, it just looked shabby. The quality of the image I was using wasn’t too great, for a start, so, after putting it through the filter a few times, I came up with something that vaguely resembled the designs below, minus the stick men. Why choose stick men? I figured that the subject matter was heavy enough already; the stick men seem to lessen the impact while still conveying the message I wanted. I don’t know, make of it what you will.
I’ve already gone into some detail about this, so I’ll spare the rambling and skip to my synopsis (which is, incidentally, also on the back cover, so you could always just read it there) – please be warned, this most likely contains some sensitive material, or an approach that could be construed as controversial. Skip if you’d like:
‘Just one step, and all your troubles go away.
Courtney Vaugn is familiar with what happens to a human body when it falls from the hundredth floor of some high-rise building. What he saw when he was thirteen, the image still burns, vivid, in his mind, no matter what he does to try and forget it. When he asked his father why someone would do that to themselves, his father explained that the person falling, they probably black out before they even reach the ground, and even if they don’t, it’s just ‘one step into nothing.’ Less painful than bleeding to death. Less risky than hanging. Easier than drugs.
Twenty-three years later, and Courtney is a rising star in the local investigation squad, a college educated crime scene investigator with a reasonably comfortable private life and a series of successful investigations under his belt. Then, what the team thinks is the mangled body of a woman, the pieces of her spread six feet in diameter, shows up. Haunted by what he saw as a teenager, Courtney throws himself into the case with a fierce determination that threatens to unhinge him. He wants answers. He wants to know what happened that night when he was thirteen, when he found what was left of her body.
A series of tales intertwine with Courtney’s own as he investigates the conditions for each suicide, desperate to know what drove them to it. Desperate to finally understand the event that triggered it all, and to face up to a lifetime of denial.’
I’m looking forward to NaNoWriMo this year, as always, but I think it might be significantly stranger to do … unless I’m employed by the time it rolls around. If not, then every day will most likely be feeling like the weekends always have; wake up, write, shower, get dressed, write, eat, write, sleep (eventually). It’s a bizarre prospect, doing this, the idea that there is little else to do, but at least I’ll be doing something that I know I enjoy. Nobody’s forcing me to do this, after all.
This threatens to break me, though. I’ve never written anything like this before; read plenty of it, yes, which is part of the reason I’m sliding in such a direction. It never has been a case of stomaching it. Just reasoning with myself that what I’m writing actually works on the page.
Nonetheless, roll on November!