Pulling Back The Curtain
I’m going to let you all in a dirty little secret about me: I’m impulsive. Drastically, stupidly, amazingly impulsive. This single trait probably influences my life more than any other. It’s why I went to college ten hours away from the town I grew up in. It’s why I moved to a major metropolitan area with one job lead and zero people I knew. It’s why I spent three year jumping around locations working on a project gig that I had no relevant experience doing things on.
It’s why I started my site, putting No More Ramen on display for the world to see. And yes, it’s why I undertook the massive commitment that was Super Powereds, because I thought it would be fun to try and write the sort of superhero story I wanted to see. It’s why I made e-books even though I had no knowledge of the market or system required. It’s why I decided to ultimately try and make a full-run at writing. I’m impulsive, and it’s only through charm, bullshit, and extreme amounts of luck that I’ve managed to ride that character trait into the life I have.
So, all of that said, understand that sometimes I undertake projects with no clear understanding of what the end-game is. I don’t always know where I’m going, only that I want to be moving. Sometimes it works out really well, like with the site. Sometimes it turns into a shitshow, like when I spent a month dating a girl who described herself as a “walking Ke$ha song.” I try and shelter the site from those impulses when I can, but every now and then, like with the Halloween story, I get an itch that can only be scratched by doing.
A while back I had the idea to do as close to live-book-writing as was feasibly possible: doing a NaNoWriMo-style writing marathon where the outline, daily output, and notes are all put on display as they are created. To pull back the curtain on the mysterious process of writing and try to show the path of a book’s creation: first as idea, then sketch, then rough draft, and finally edit together a real novel at the very end. I loved this idea the minute it struck me, but I had serious hurdles with doing it. They were:
1. I had no ideas for novels that I could keep at or near 50,000 words. I need to work on learning restraint, and I didn’t want to burn more than a month for this experiment. A workable idea that I could keep short was mandatory before I could even consider doing something like this.
2. Half the fun of an idea like this would be the collaborative potential it presented. I’d want to open it up to other writers to do as well, to really put on as big a show as possible for our readers. Camp NaNo being in July and NaNoWriMo being in November, that put me months away from a time when I could throw it into action. I don’t enjoy waiting, I’m impulsive and impatient. I was likely to move onto to another project before the right time for this one came along.
3. My schedule is already pretty ambitious. I’m trying to keep up with the SP and Corpies output, coordinate editing and movement on my book through REUTS, and keep writing stand-alone indie novels. Throwing this big of a wrench into things could wreck my whole schedule. Besides, it represented a lot of work for what might be something no one really cared about.
With these things staring me down, it seemed like my idea was destined for the mental shelf until such time as the concerns were addressed. Little did I know that such a time was far closer than I realized. The dominoes quickly began falling almost as soon as I tried giving up on it:
1. I hit on an idea, one I’d played with years ago and now had a tighter focus for. Plus I could bring in a novella character, Velt, who I’d wanted to give a bigger stage to for ages.
2. Camp Nano added an April session, meaning I had ostensible reason for both doing it and trying to drag other authors into the fold.
3. I realized: “Fuck it.” I like taking risks; big, dumb, time-devouring risks. I like trying things that I haven’t before, especially if I’ve never seen anyone do it. And, as stated many times before, I’m really fucking impulsive.
So, this April, without letting SP or Corpies drop, I’m going to do a live-NaNo session. I’ll put out my full outline in the last days of March, and from April first on I’ll be posting every day’s writing as I finish it. Paired with each bit will be any notes I put down. Usually I do this in a binder, but I’ll add them in each section as needed. There will be rampant issues, shifting continuity, and likely an unstable plot, but hopefully the bare-bones of the story will shine through. When it’s all written, I’ll leave that section up, but whisk the other part away to editing and re-writes, eventually releasing a finished version as an e-book. The whole creation process, from concept to final, put on display for all to see. Maybe it will be really cool. Maybe it will be a shitpile. I sincerely don’t know. I just know that I want to do it.
And that means it’s getting done.
Note: If any of the other web-serial authors who read this are interested in joining the experiment as well, shoot me an e-mail at NovelistDrew@gmail.com. I'm putting together a link group of everyone doing it so readers who enjoy the premise can track multiple projects.
For this week's Youtube break, I went with a video that perfectly summarizes the foolhardy attitude I'm displaying with the above announcement project.