On the weekend of January 26-27, 2013, I took part in the Kernel Magazine of London’s NaNoWriWee – a play off the much participated-in NaNoWriMo that occurs annually in November and involves people around the world type, type, typing away at a 50k+ novel. With rules much akin to the November event for writers, NaNoWriWee was the furious attempt of 327 registered participants to complete a novella or novelette with a target of roughly 20k words and a 30 hour time limit. Over a 100 people submitted finished, first draft stories. Some participants even met the target of 20k. Wonderful, wonderful.
I’m quite lucky to have a husband that was willing to take the lead on baby-care this weekend. Even so, I was still unable to actively write during the 30 hour prescribed time and time zone parameters [GMT]. Over the course of Saturday and Sunday, I worked roughly 16 hours on a dystopian political satire I have titled DRAG.N. which stands for Disbursement of Regular Antibodies for a Green Nation and is pronounced simply dragon. This seemed a fitting title for a novella that seeks to give an imaginative viewpoint on a country sin-Human Civil Rights where citizens are moderately medicated to be amiable and receptive.
Although unable to hit the hoped-for target of 20k words, I was able to rap out a respectable14.3k, moderately well-conceived and seemingly-complete story. Having said this, I am now furiously editing, lengthening and preparing to release DRAG.N. as a novella. I’m very happy with the characters created in such a short time period. The storyline is played out during the course of a two-day period and centers around the break-down of the Universal Health Initiative rather than the build-up and following changes of a nation.
With the current road our government is travelling on towards healthcare reformation, it is my hope that DRAG.N. will be found a semi-humorous, but marginally profound outlook on the future of forced resolutions in regards to the choices we face when caring for our own bodies and minds.
I’m both thankful and ungrateful to the Kernel Magazine for hosting this crazy NaNoWriWee contest. I am thankful that the Kernel has hosted such an event that has spawned a new novella. I am ungrateful that the Kernel hosted such an event that made my brain turn-off towards the finishing of my current novel, Tears of Chios. Thankfully, DRAG.N. is a brief novelette and will only delay the finish of my second, full book by a short time.
Time spent editing DRAG.N ~ A reflection:
DRAG.N has shaped up nicely – a far cry from the original rough draft furiously typed during NaNoWriWee. I usually take quite a break after the original write, but I’m salivating to get this one out there to be judged by the wide-old-world.
The editing process is a tedious one. In my case, it calls for quiet reflection and forced objectivity.
Objectiveness is hard when it comes to your own work. Most authors pick a few people they trust, really trust, to act as beta-readers. I’ve heard a few people ask why they are called beta-readers instead of alpha-readers, after all, ‘beta-readers’ are the first actual consumers of an author’s work. So, wouldn’t it make sense for them to be called alpha-readers? Well, I say ‘no.’ First and foremost, a piece of work is created and read by the author his or herself. The author is the alpha-reader. Or maybe we author’s call them beta-readers because we are obsessive about retaining first power over our projects. Authors can be a bit odd that way, always living in their own heads and making castles in the sky.
Back to objectiveness – what do you do if you don’t have beta-readers? In two words – find some!
I’ve recently entered Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award. I doubt Dead Trees will make it to the finals, but I’ve made some amazing contacts along the way. Sometimes, you need to put yourself out there and search for support. Talk to your family, talk to your ‘best’ friend, join a forum.
Dead Trees took about a year and a half to finish. Half of that time was spent putting the manuscript aside and letting it settle. It’s near impossible to tackle a second draft immediately after the first- at least for me. I tend to get sick of the storyline by the time I finish, so I have to take a step away and remember why I wrote it in the first place – why I fell in love with the plot, why I painstakingly molded each and every character. Of course, that’s a double-edged sword. If you fall back in love with your work, you may be even less likely to be objective. Then again, if you hate it – you’ll probably never edit and publish.
Phew. Okay, that felt a bit like a load of nonsense. I hope, in some cyclical alter-universe, that I made some good points.
Here’s a tiny-teaser from DRAG.N.
Charles piddled around the lab – re-cleaning a few countertops and checking the calibration on the DRAG.N. dosage mechanism (although, Martin had already done the post-sterilization cycle and prepped for next dosing, so it really wasn’t necessary).
It was about 4:40 PM now.
Deciding to leave, Charles hung up his lab coat and tossed his, now empty, plastic cup into the regular trashcan next to the lockers. It was there for day-to-day, non-food waste.
Normally, Charles wouldn’t have finished his beverage in the lab – against policy and all that – but today was a day of risks. What was a little fluid-drinking, whipped-cream-slurping, rule breaking in comparison to stealing thousands of data-bytes from the UHI?
DRAG.N published on ebook March 24th 2013.