I was pleasantly surprised to see that people were subscribing to this blog, even though I hadn’t posted in awhile. I’ve been venturing out into the Twitter-verse and exploring Facebook, following and friending those who’ve caught my eye. I humbly thank those who have reciprocated.
It is heartening to see many kindred souls out there who still have faith in the power of the written word. I’ve been busy copying and pasting all your emails (submitted via my Word Press website into my new Mail Chimp account because I haven’t figured out an easier way to build my email list) in order to reach out to all of you and to update you on my progress and preparation for NaNoWriMo 2017.
I am currently working on my first novel which is a science fiction, epic saga, journey-type story. I’ll admit it is a “kitchen sink” mash-up of all the ideas that have been swimming in my head for over twenty years (I am in my late 40s). It is titled “Unmanned” and it contains religious, supernatural, apocalyptic and political elements. This novel was first begun about three years ago, pre-Trump, but includes a border wall and America in decline.
My method has evolved over the years. I started as a plotter with six “story beats”: character, problem, growth, change, attempt, and wrap-up. Then I “pants” a 1st draft, which my Mom, a long time, rabid Stephen King fan, read and gave me notes to make it more cohesive. After we went over the notes, I went through the whole draft (about 35k words) and did a chapter by chapter beats breakdown by hand in a notebook. Now, I am writing the second draft, going chapter by chapter, “plantzing” it and it is going great. With the beats and the chapter breakdown I am able to maintain momentum along the road with signposts to guide the way and a destination in sight.
To prepare for November, I’ve been trying to write 1k a day and I usually manage 2-3k a week. When I don’t write I feel like crap. But, when I do write, even if I don’t reach my weekly goal, I feel like I am building towards something that may actually be good. Things come out on the page that I never would have thought I could write. Sometimes, it becomes a trance-like state. I’m not sure if it will make sense but when I learned that Stephen King’s “IT” is really a multi-dimensional spider creature whose arch-enemy is a giant turtle and that Star Wars spaceships could never fly in the atmosphere like they do in Rogue One, I am put to ease and inspired all the more to push the boundaries of my imagination.
My current word count is just over 70k and I plan to reach 120k after NaNoWriMo2017. This will be my third NanNo, if you count the last Camp. I enjoy the camaraderie NaNoWriMo offers, through Twitter and the Forums, and the intensity of the daily deadlines that require you to write at least 1667 words a day for thirty days. If you have never done one, I suggest you try it out regardless if you have already started a novel or have a half finished manuscript in your drawer somewhere.
I must admit that I have never “won” a NaNoWriMo, that is, reached the 50k total for the month of November; but, each attempt has given me momentum to continue writing in the following months and a new found love of writing.
Since I’m an at-home Dad (Chief Household Officer), my modus operandi has been to do the chores: clean, laundry, food shop, cook, and work around the house: painting, landscaping and repairs, and then do my writing with whatever energy remains. This system has worked well for the last few months and I usually Tweet my progress on the good days and bad. On a good day I get most of the chores done and at least 1k words written. A bad day is most of the chores done and no words written.
Full disclosure: I am lucky enough to have a brilliant, beautiful wife who excels in the corporate world and brings home enough bacon to sustain the family until we can launch our independent, family publishing company. My wife also aspires to write as does my teenage daughter. Our goal is to self-publish three to six books in the next three years. My novel will be the first published to establish the company and begin the learning process of self-publishing.
While I do my chores, I listen to podcasts for inspiration and education. Most of them are about the craft of writing and self-publishing, while some are research or entertainment. I will list them here, in no particular order and with a brief comment. I highly suggest you check them out. I find them much more enlightening than listening to the news all day, especially these days.
Here We Are by Shane Mass. Why are we here and how can we make it better.
WTF by Marc Maron. Interviews with artistic people of all ilks. We all have more in common than we think.
The Bible Geek by Robert M. Price. Deep dive into the tough questions about the stories in the Bible.
Write Now by Sarah Werner. Warm, intelligent conversations with writers about writing.
The Hilarious World Of Depression by American Public Media. Title says it all.
Start Writing by Joseph Bendoski & J. Washburn. In depth, technical conversations about writing.
Hardcore History by Dan Carlin. 5+ hour podcasts that dissects an important moment in history.
The Journeyman Writer by Storywonk. Quick, crisp podcasts about writing by a guy with a great accent and equally brilliant writer wife.
Rocking Self-Publishing. Self-explanatory.
The Worried Writer by Sarah Painter. Warm and bright podcast by another person with a great accent. Cheery and fun.
The Self Publishing Podcast by Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt & David Wright. The nuts and bolts of all things self-publishing, including advertising, marketing and email lists.
Writers Who Don’t Write by Jeff Umbro & Kyle Craner. Honest conversations with writers.
Seated at the Writer’s Table by Phil Giagrande. Conversations with established writers.
Those are podcasts I listen to before I write to get me in the mood, focused and inspired. While I write, I listen to a custom Pandora station which consists of lots of Pink Floyd, industrial and dark mood music. I find it eerie sometimes when my writing syncs up with the music and the music informs and inspires things that I did not see coming at all. One time, a character said “whoa” just as Robert Plant sung the word in “Kashmir”.
My goal this month is to publish this blog, send my first Mail Chimp announcement to my email list to announce it and then jump in, full force, today, November 1, 2017, to win my first NaNoWriMo. Then, I will have a completed 2nd draft and be that much closer to my goal of publishing my first novel in 2018.
To all my potential readers, please be patient while I work towards completing my first novel. I believe it will be the kind of book I would want to read and I hope it will be for you also.
Best to all,
Anonymous J. Smith