Wednesday, December 3, 2014


So NaNoWriMo 2014 has been over for a few days. All in all, a successful year. I met my own goal (yay!) by the skin of my teeth and a last-minute 3,000 word chicken chase on the moon. What's more, the Birmingham region's 355 participants racked up a solid 5.6 million words of ficiton. Nice going, guys!

This was my eighth year doing NaNo and my seventh win, so the question might be asked whether or not the contest does anything for me anymore. The answer is... well, yeah.

Mind you, I'm stretching myself each year and not just relying on the old 50,000 word goal as my sole target. Last year's crazy stunt was to produce and publish a ten part serial during the course of the event, which demanded even stricter deadline control than normal and a violation of my "no one sees my early drafts" rule.

This year the goal was short stories, which have always been a challenge for me. In the past, the first draft of a single story would take me just as long as a whole NaNoNovel. For this month, I was required to churn stories out at the pace of a young Robert Silverburg (without the corresponding level of quality, unfortunately). This year's event taught me a lot about the short story process and how to get the damn things down on paper without being precious about it.

My starting goal was 10 stories of about 5,000 words. It ended up more like 1 essay and 6-8 stories depending which ones you count and how often you count them. I hope that at least three of them are things I can polish into a non-embarrassing shape and set them loose into the wild. Another is a new romp staring The Whisper, which I'll be posting here shortly.

Another thing I re-learned for this NaNo, and you'd think that I of all people wouldn't have to learn this, is to Embrace The Pulp. I'd pretty much taken a year off from my own writing, and in that time I've been consuming contemporary short fiction that, while still in my SFF comfort zone, is definitely of a more literary bent, all the while with the realization that my stuff would never, ever fit in with the stories I was reading.

But like Ben Folds says, "You've got to learn to live with what you are," and I'm a pulp writer god dammit. Soul-searching, new wave, deeply personal examinations of the human condition of the kind you find in Clarkesworld and such are awesome, but that's never going to come out of my typewriter. I'm from the tradition of stories with chase scenes, fight scenes, and characters who want to kill each other. I'm all for stretching myself, but to be happy as a writer I've got to stay true to my roots.

So, in the interest of challenging myself and keeping the pulp pulpy, I'm hereby announcing my crazy stunt for NaNo 2015: My next 30-day novel will be interactive in the style of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" series, in honor of the late, great R.A. Montgomery. I'll polish it up and post it here on this blog with all the story paths hyperlinked for your Choose Your Own Adventuring pleasure.

There you go. Now I'm committed.