The first time that I delved into it's exhilarating, frightening, unknown waters (and if you've never done it, it really is a bit like diving off a pier at midnight into a body of water you've never seen) was probably around 2000. I think that I wrote maybe 1000 words, if that much on a very random whim without really understanding a thing about what I was trying to do. At the time, I had no sense of the actual scope of the thing, or of the idea of pacing myself and therefore I also didn't really put myself into it.
In 2003, I revisited the idea, this time with a plot bunny I'd gotten from a friend of mine. By that time, I'd moved on from college and was working at a 40-hour a week job, and was coming down from a several-week-long panic attack (bordering on nervous breakdown). That's the year I really think of as my first foray into the actual heart of the project, and while I made a bunch of the beginner mistakes (like not sticking to a daily word count) I also managed about 40,000 of the cherished 50,000 word goal.
I think in 2004 I suffered from a total lack of any inspiration, and in 2005 I was between jobs, inspiration-less, and in the middle of having problems with mental illness that sapped any creative energy I possessed. But 2006? 2006 was the year I discovered Battlestar Galactica, and had my fandom muses renewed. It was also the first year that I made it to 50,000 words (some of which got written in a fugue state that had me going back later and thinking "when did I write that?!" but in a good way.)
It was still a solitary endeavor (complete with askance looks from friends and family at ever mention of it). In 2007, I managed to coerce kadollan into participating with me, and we both wrote Harry Potter fic. Because the word count goal in and of itself was no longer challenge enough, I decided that I should attempt (for the first time ever in my life) to exert some self-discipline and stick to the daily prescribed word count of 1667 words. I actively bribed myself with the promise of silk yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts and kept pictures of both said yarn and Luna Lovegood (my central character and newly discovered muse) on my desktop at work. And you know what? I did it. I absolutely did.
So last year, it was Harry Potter again, only it wasn't at first because the_disco_fairy tried to talk me into original fiction. That failed like a fail-y thing, because I caught kadollan's HP Next-Gen bug, but I tried to do two at once for awhile, because I was unemployed again, and why not? I ended up with an unholy (and really awfully close to cheating) union of the two by the end of things (along with a 60,000+ word count).
So at some point, I got to be the sort of writer who says "15,000 words? That's easy!" and means it. It's a realization I had going into the hermionebigbang this year. The hell? I can see how I got there, but it's still a surprise, kind of.
And all those fics that I've written for NaNo that have never seen the light of day? I'm using the ginnybigbang and harrypotterbang as an excuse to get them finished, edited, and posted.
The startrekbigbang and polybigbang are going to be new endeavors, like the hermionebigbang is. And I think that the hermionebigbang just might be what's leading into this year's NaNo storyline.
Final NaNo count: 64,928.
As previously mentioned, I learned a few important things. First, that I should always stick to doing a daily word count when doing NaNoWriMo. Second, that my place in this literary world (at least in regards to fiction) is writing fanfiction, not original stuff. I actually had quite an epiphany about how exactly it is that my brain works that allows me to write fanfiction (it's related to mathematics and social dynamics, and came to me via reading this wonderful book (which is well written and quite engaging and not at all about genetics: The Math Gene by Keith Devlin) ) It involves imaginary "furniture" in imaginary "houses" among other things.
Speaking of NaNo stories... I have two needs. Or rather, I have two stories that I really would like to finish and make into post-able stories, and would like beta-ish help on them. If you're interested? Please let me know either via comments or email. (cybermathwitch (at) gmail (dot) com)
Folie a Deux is a BSG Kara/Lee epic-y sort of story involving the two of them "remembering" all sorts of different lives past, future, and alternate present in order to come to a realization about their place in one another's life. (And doesn't that sound all sorts of philosophical? giggle Don't worry - there's smut, too. and Pilot!Babies.)
Fade and Remain is a Harry/Ginny/Luna fic (seriously, check out flamingnargle ) that takes place after the events of Deathly Hallows (it's cannon up to that point, with some supposition about what's going on during the books that we may not see) and disregards the Epilogue entirely. It's primary purpose is a vehicle for the 'ship, but I'm also trying to work out an actual plot involving the Elder Wand.
Both of these have at *least* 50,000 words in them, so they're already pretty big (and a big mess, technically as they were written in a sort of "free-for-all" manner) - right now what I really need for these is a new perspective about where I might need to go with them, as well as some reaction to what I've already got. Grammatical editing is always appreciated, but it isn't the primary thing I'm looking for in a beta - *especially* at the stage I'm at. I'm going mostly for story editing at this point.
Conclusion the First:
NaNoWriMo year 3 is quite a bit like NaNoWriMo *week* 3 ... an uphill train wreck of maddening proportions. Like writing during that week of infamy tends to be, this years NaNo was kind of really hell-like. It's done, it's validated, but I can't say that it's been terribly fun.
Corollary to Conclusion the First:
No really. Daily word count is the way to go.
Conclusion the Second:
I need to see Merlin. Like "Whoa." How does one find it, because I don't think it's on any of the channels I get, and my internet is severely curtailed due to budget cuts. (Cause we have none at home, and haven't for a very long time.)
Conclusion the Third (1) :
Amazon loves me. Amazon loves all WW fans. If you've been wanting the season set? Go check it out now (Black Friday sale and all) ... but promise me you won't take them all and leave none for under my tree come Christmas time, k?
Conclusion the Fourth:
All month? I'd really rather have been writing Battlestar fic.
Conclusion the Fifth:
Crossover Crack is bad for you. Crossover Crack involving the West Wing is liable to be hysterical. Also? Can I get some NCIS crossover-ness with anyone that isn't slash? Don't get me wrong, I like slash. But I don't see my NCIS peeps as being particularly slashy, and want some lovely "outsiders looking in and watching the team" type of fic now.
Thus far? Not going so well. A great deal of my motivation is lacking, whether that's lack of my laptop, or because I'm just generally kind of blah this fall, I'm not sure. I *do* know one thing that's not working regarding my original story, though.
I don't like it.
And before anyone starts mentioning the inner editor - that's really not my problem right now. Some of what I'm writing is good, some of it's crap, as is par for the course for around 18000 words. That's fine. That's not the issue. But I don't *like* the story. If I picked the book up at the store and looked at it? I probably would put it back down without much other thought. It's not actively things I hate, I'm not going into Magna Carta II territory, but the characters that are trying to talk to me and the story that they're trying to tell doesn't do a damn thing for me.
What I *REALLY* want to be writing right now? This totally awesome BSG fic idea Pi and I have been poking at for awhile now. That I've got people talking to me, the story idea, everything - and it's totally something that I would want to read.
Even through the fog of a nasty tension migraine, I can appreciate the irony of the fact that Meg Cabot's pep-talk I found in my email after writing this talks all about abandoning a story for "the next big thing" and having a milk carton of shame of half finished stories you mean to come back and finish once you've worked on the shiny new story. The difference here is - I don't even want to put what I've got in a milk carton to wait for me to come back to it.
Beyond that, I am about 3000 words behind on two separate novels, wanna know what I'm doing tonight?
Researching the hell out of the roots and origins of modern witchcraft (as well as the usage of the term(s)) because it has absolutely NOTHING to do with any of my stories. Catching up on classes at Real Magic School now that they're back up and running again. Watching The Road to El Dorado with the kids (we're babysitting this weekend while everyone else is at the Gathering Coordinator's meeting.)
In other words? Anything and everything to avoid my stories.
I'm actually not minding my HP story, and will probably work on it in a bit. But my original story? The one that's on my long-term NaNo account? Is making me beyond crazy.
One of the exercises given as a prelude to NaNoWriMo is writing your "Magna Cartas" - lists of (respectively) the things you love in books you read and the things you absolutely hate and despise. The point is both to help give you ideas of a story you might like to write and spark brain storming, and also to give you a way to check yourself if you start writing stories that contain the very qualities you despise. Which is a more common occurence than you might think, actually.
I'm not to the point of actively having elements of my second Magna Carta (the bad one) yet, but I am at the point of looking at the story thus far, and where I think it's going, and realizing it's going to be one that I wouldn't be particularly interested in reading if I were browsing a bookstore myself and ran across it. Normally, this phenomenon is common in week 2... mine's hit rather early in week one.
So instead, I'm going to go finish up the lesson and test for the class I'm on, probably read another chapter or two in Bonewits's Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca (for the record, one of the best sources I've found thus far at discussing the "myths" verses the probably realities and research on both the definition(s) of the terms and the origins of the movement - it is not a "wicca 101" type of book),
That said, can Isaac Bonewits be my anthropologically-perceptive pagan-researcher boyfriend? I'll take good care of him and keep him with Alton Brown (my kitchen-guru boyfriend).
It's the only explanation I can think of.
You see - I have three plot bunnies. For three completely separate stories. None of them have grabbed my by the scruff of the neck and said "WRITE ME". Which is really rather annoying.
And so I worked on one for awhile.
And then I went "oh shiny" with another one.
And then I started having second thoughts.
And then I ended up writing on BOTH of them. And maybe possibly the third.
Ok, (and yes, I'm totally editing this from a draft I saved when I crashed out last night) I'm *not* doing the third one. But on the other hand, I'm totally doing two. Two separate novels. I even went and made a new account on NaNo for the second one so that I could verify them separately. (CyberMathWitch and CyberMathWitch2, if you're interested.)
Thus far, I have
Reason and Enlightenment (A Rose/Hyperion Post-epilogue HP fic) (at 3483 words)
(no clever title yet) Steampunk!Regency Fantasy thing (at 3655)
Which is actually totally within the word count for where I should be on BOTH of them right now.
(After agonizing for two weeks about what I was going to do, deciding around midnight last night that I was going to do my modern urban fantasy idea instead of my "almost wants to be steampunk when it grows up except that it's regency fantasy", then realizing that story doesn't want to be written either, entirely, except maybe? and having kadollan talk me into writing the Rose/Hyperion story that goes along with her Lily story - yeah, I'm in a weird place regarding NaNo.)
Instead I'm reading the NaNo forums and Doctor Who/NCIS crossover fic.
Because *that's* useful.
I'm trying to write my Magna Cartas, and have realized that while i'm pretty clear on what I *don't* like in a book ... narrowing down what I *do* like is much, much harder for me.
What are my favorite books?
Incubus Dreams by Laurell K Hamiltion (and many of the Anita books since that one - prior to that it's hit or miss)
The Merry Gentry series by Laurell K Hamilton
the "Death" novels by JD Robb
Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn
the Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffrey
the Arrows of the Queen (book, not trilogy) and By the Sword by Mercedes Lackey
the Diana Tregarde novels by Mercedes Lackey
Christine Feehan's "Ghostwalker" series (though they're starting to get a bit repetitive)
JR Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series (I suffer the names/language conventions for the characters)
the Harry Potter series, of course.
The Changeover by Margaret Mahy
The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
The Novels of Tiger and Del (though I haven't read the final one and DON'T WANT SPOILERS) by Jennifer Roberson - also her Cheysuli series
Several books by Elizabeth Lowell, Linda Howard, and Nora Roberts - though all three also have books I *don't* like.
Ok. Obviously, I like romances with strong alpha males. Duh. I like investigation and being shown the characters' interpersonal dynamics. I have a fondness in some cases for "school" stories - where a character is uprooted and goes off to a school somewhere shiny and new (though that isn't as much the appeal of the HP books, but that may be where it started for me.)
I like the political manuevering and manipulation in the Dragon Prince.
I like the exploration of duality as well as the characters in the Novels of Tiger and Del.
But things like the interpersonal dynamics thing? I'm having trouble pinning down, in words, what kinds I like and how I like them to be portrayed. Important distinctions when you're trying to decide what to write.
All of the above aside, there's the questions like:
Original, or fanfiction?
if Original, what sort of story? What sort of characters? Something I've already started dabbling in and playing with, or something *completely* new? (and there's the fuzziness of the NaNo rules on that one as well). Genre, setting, conflict, time period, etc.
If fanfiction, what fandom? There are many that I could write vignettes for - but for 50000? Have to be sure that the characters won't just up and abandon me on day 2. That's trickier.
SO.... Help! Please! What would *you* like to see/read at the end of 30 days of craziness?
Also on my mind: NaNoWriMo 2006. In a nutshell, for those of you who don't know, the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days (specifically the month of November). It's an international effort and many, many people join in on the insanity every year. One of the things about it though, is that it has to be something new. No working on a project you've already started writing, even if you don't count what was written previously. (Yes, I've fudged that and tossed out the whole bloody bit of scraps from a story before and started fresh with the same idea, but you're not really supposed to. I'm a bad girl. Someone should punish me. ;) (Sorry, couldn't resist. I'm in a mood.))
ANYWAY, I learned the hard way after a couple of less-than-stellar years (see 2004 and 2005 to be precise, after getting 40,000+ in 2003 on a HP fic) that I need to start planning NOW. (It's ok to write notes and such before the event. Just no actual text.)
I wanted to do something BSG-ish, of course, as that is my new obsession. And that's who's talking to me (almost non-stop, thankyouverymuch). But I didn't really have a huge arc-type story besides the fic that won't stop growing I'm currently in the middle of (which I damn well plan on finishing the rough draft of tonight because I'm getting tired of beating at it).
So I went back to that whole "this has all happened before, and it will all happen again" idea. And mythology. And history. And alternate realities. And a little thing I learned about during my foray into reading Xena/Gabrielle fic called Uber!fic.
So I'm going to write the realities of Lee and Kara. Past lives, what-ifs, alternate realities, the lot of it. A jumbled puzzle of interconnected peices of what is, what was, what shall be, and what might be, as well as what won't be. (Though don't expect total crack!fic sections, as the muses I've got lined up so far are the more ethereal dramatic types. I LOVE crack!fic - I just can't write it.) In that vein, I'm taking writing prompts. (I'll probably be fishing for them from now until at least mid-November - especially if I get stuck.)
So... What types of scenarios would you like to see alternate Lees and Karas in? Time period, situation, relationship, etc. Let me know. Chances are very, very good that you'll get your wish. 50,000 words is a lot of scenarios.