In February 2003 I decided to write a novel. Not only did I decide to do it, I actually got started. At the time of writing this (July 2003) I've written some 35,000 words, so finishing this thing is beginning to become a real possibility.
This is the first draft of a novel, that I'm writing one episode at a time.
I'd like to emphasise that "first draft" bit here. What you're reading here is a novel at its very earliest stage of existence. Normally a text is finished by the author, revised one or several time by the author, and revised one or several times by an editor before becoming available to the public.
It all started when I read about something called NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Novel Writing Month. There's a website where you can sign up, and the idea is to write 50,000 words (the absolute minimum length of a novel) in one month. Since all participants are doing this in the same month, and they're keeping in touch through the site's message boards, there's a strong incentive to persevere. The main objective is not to produce great art, but to get past the fear of failure or whatever else that is holding you back and produce 50,000 words of fiction.
I'm a member of the Well, and online conferencing system. Several members had participated in NaNoWriMo during the previous year, and they were discussing their plans for doing second drafts of their novels or participating in NaNoWriMo again. The whole approach (writing for the hell of it) appealed to me, and I decided to join in. Initially I planned to write 500 words a day for 100 days but that hasn't quite worked out - while working on part 1 I wrote an avarage of 250 words a day and I suspect my average has slightly gone down since then (though I'm less busy now than I was then, go figure), and also I expect that the length of my finished novel will be around 100,000 - 150,000 words.
I still take part in the Well discussions, even if it is only to post a word count when I've written another episode. Writing a novel can be a lonely business, and I believe that the possibility to discuss your novel with like-minded souls can mean the difference between success and failure.
I got started mainly to find out what it was like. I've done lots of writing both professionally and non-profesionally, but the longest pieces of text that I've written were about 50 pages long and all of those were non-fiction.
I kept doing it because I found I was enjoying myself. Also, during a somewhat tense period in my life (new job, busy schedule, another reorganisation hanging over my head after being fired from my previous job) being able to disappear into my fantasy world in my spare time proved to be a godsend. As long as you don't need to have a typewriter or a computer in front of you in order to write, writing is a wonderfully portable pastime. I've written on trains, in hotel rooms, in bars and restaurants and sitting on benches in parks - and all these little bits and pieces do add up.
Why not? Most of my other non-professional writing is here. I'm not under the delusion that any of this is going to be great literature. Reading it may not be worth anyone's time (though that's not for me to decide). Publishing a number of episodes of 500+ a week gives me deadlines to aim for, which helps me to keep going.
I'm a 40 year old civil servant with more than 20 years of experience in IT. My interests include public governance, technology and the western mystery tradition. To find out more, have a look at the rest of the site.
Experiences and lessons learned.
Part 1. In a country racked by war, a man is nearly destroyed by his efforts to come to terms with his past.
Introduction and start of part 1
Index of all episodes
Part 2. Our hero sets out to face the King to find some answers.
Introduction and start of part 2
Index of all episodes
Part 3. (In progress.)
Introduction and start of part 3
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