Tag Archives: nashostomo

NaShoStoMo, Part I

As promised, now that my novel is with the beta readers, I’ve jumped right into a little thing I like to call National Short Story Month. National might be putting it a little strong, because I’m the only one who’s actually, you know, doing it. But my long-held strategy is to pretend that I am the man until I actually become the man. You dig?

Anyway, week one, short story one will be completed this evening. For those of you keeping track, that’s two days behind schedule. On the other hand, I did spend two days planning out a short story that I didn’t actually end up writing, so there’s that. This was my submission for the Machine of Death anthology that I mentioned last time, so yeah. I’ll probably still end up writing it, or at least a version of it, but the way I had it plotted out involved a lot of talking and not a lot of doing. Bureaucracy is a hard thing to make interesting.

The story I did actually end up writing is tentatively called “The Desert Beyond the Water,” and basically re-invents “humanity’s first spaceflight” as “renaissance-era cephalopods take a trip above the surface.” I’ve always wanted to write a story about aquatic sentients, and now, thanks to NaShoStoMo, that dream has come true. The worldbuilding was just as intense as I expected it to be, but I don’t think it came out too bad for all of that. As scary as it is to say this, I think I’m going to shop the story around some after I fix it up a bit.

That’s right: my very first submission. Little Brad is growing up.

I’m not counting my submission to the NIWA anthology, of course. I was on the submission committee, so there’s no way it wasn’t getting accepted. We ended up accepting 13 stories for the anthology, which I’m pretty proud of. Half of those people had never heard of NIWA when we first announced the anthology, and it means that over 20 people are either NIWA members, in the anthology, or both. Not bad for a five-month-old organization that started with two people. I’m really looking forward to getting this one in print.

NaShoStoMo

So, today marks one week of letting Fugitives from Earth decant a bit in my mind. I’m still working on a few short stories and things like that before getting back into it, but I’ll definitely be plugging away at it again by this weekend.

I’m actually rather enjoying the short story work in between major projects. Once the novel goes out to beta readers it’ll be literally impossible for me to work on it for a month or so while they chug their way through it, and I think I’m going to use that opportunity to try a little experiment.

So, NaNoWriMo is great, right? And why? Because of the magic of the deadline. That little pretend goal takes on Damocles proportions as the month goes on (especially if you’ve been bragging) and that means that stuff gets done. And, frankly, when I don’t have a deadline around, I really miss it. Ones that I arbitrarily assign to myself aren’t as compelling as ones that are tied to dates by circumstances partially out of my control.

So, here’s the plan: for the four weeks after I submit FfE to the beta readers, I will write one complete short story from conception to submission-ready per week. Each story will be at least 3000 words long (as if I could ever write anything shorter) but no more than 7,500 words. There aren’t any other rules for NaShoStoMo. I just need to write.

Using the NaNo method for short stories will be particularly useful, I think, because of the peculiarities of short stories. The economy of plot and language required are totally different for shorts than a novel; the skills are barely transferrable. But because each word is so much more important for a short story, I tend to slow down and seize up altogether when I get nervous. Writing nothing instead of “the wrong thing” is pretty much the stupidest habit ever, and I really, really want to rid myself of it. It’s not like anything you write is ever wasted, even if it just improves your skills.

There are advantage of writers block, as I’ve discovered, but most of the time, it just pisses me off. And I want to fix that.