After hearing about the “NaNoWriMo” ‘contest’ (is it actually a contest? I’m still not sure) from my good friend (and one of the most talented writers I know) Terri (check out her Little Corner, you won’t be disappointed), I bit the bullet and decided to try my hand at it. What is it? It stands for National Novel Writer’s (or Writing?) Month. Apparently it takes place every November and charges participants with composing a 50,000 word novel in the course of the month. “Sure,” I thought, “I can do that. What have I got to lose?
Never mind that I’ve never written anything longer than a magazine article. Never mind that I haven’t tried to write fiction in some twenty years or so. Never mind that while I like to see my musings as the stuff of a Vonnegut-like wit and Stephen King-ish creativity it’s probably closer to Harold Robbins dreck than anything else, I would try to write a novel in a month. This internal conversation took place on October 31st when I signed up for the event that started on November first.
Today is the fourteenth and I finally started writing. In one of her blog posts, Terri worked out that it would take 1,666 words per day (if she wrote every day) to reach that 50,000 word goal. I’ve managed to pretty much cut my available time in half and more or less double my daily requirement. Am I crazy? Nah, just lazy. While I’d like to say that my procrastination is solely due to that classic excuse “writer’s block” (and there was a good many says there that I simply had no idea what to write about). the truth is that I spent the early part of the month with Batman: Arkham Asylum, Gears of War 3, and, most recently, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (wait ’til you see the dragon combat – you’ll be blown away!) I am not proud. So it was today when Terri asked me in a Facebook post how it was going that I realized, “Oh, yeah, I need to be doing that.”
To complete 50,000 words by the 30th I will need to write over 3000 words per day. That’s a fairly tall order. Even Stephen King, a writer who seems to churn out 1200 page novels in the back of a cab on his way to the publisher’s office, stated in his book On Writing (a sort of how-to for budding novelists) that he sets a goal to write 1,200 words per day. My penchant for video games and my general laziness has painted me into a corner that I have to be more than twice as productive as the most successful American writer of all time to get out of.
No sweat. I got this.
Anyway, I promised Terri that once I got started I’d post a bit of a preview. What better place than
in a trash bin here?
So, when I sat down in front of the computer I was still wrestling with the thoughts of what
the fuck am I going to write? Genre fiction? That’s what I mostly like to read. Maybe a science fiction story? I could set it a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. There would be heroes, a princess, some funny robots, a bad guy in a black mask… oh. Someone already did that. How about a horror story with zombies? A guy wakes up from a coma to find the world almost completely void of people and full of shambling corpses who crave human flesh… also done. The great Ernest Hemmingway once famously recommended that writers should write what they know. And he lived by example. The Old Man and the Sea, A Farewell to Arms, For Whom the Bell Tolls; all are drawn from elements from Papa’s life. What was interesting about my life? I never drove an ambulance during wartime or fought with a massive fish for multiple days in a row, I work in a call center doing technical support. I’ve done that and jobs like it for most of my life. There are no poignant or Earth-shattering stories there… but there are funny ones. How about a comedy? Office Space for the tech-support geeks? I can do that – I hope.
It’s not titled yet and there’s barely a story forming, but for your (and Terri’s) approval, I humbly present the first 600 words or so of what I hope will
eventually be a novel before December first of this year.
Wish me luck… I need it.
The alarm clock was buzzing away with a steady stream of static mixed with the droning tones of the local talk radio station along with hints of Spanish music fading in and out of audial focus amidst mind-numbing white noise. The volume level was as high as the little clock radio could go, making David Jorgensen snap awake with a start, just as he did every morning when his alarm clock, purposely tuned to that phantom space between the two AM band stations because it was the only way he knew for sure he would wake up, made the most horrible noise imaginable by human kind. David had tried setting the alarm to his favorite hard rock station, but found that the strains of Metallica, Rob Zombie, Led Zeppelin and the like would actually lull him back into a dreamland filled with characters from 1980’s MTV videos. He found it was tough to get motivated to jump out of bed and go to work when the girls from the ZZ Top videos were shimmying about and lying on the hood of that old Ford coupe.
Like he also did every morning, David promptly reached out and smacked the alarm’s “snooze” button.
“Seven o’clock,” he muttered, I can get away with another twenty minutes or so.” He mumbled something similar the next three times he smacked that button.
Eventually he did indeed get out of bed and stumble to the bathroom, grotesquely scratching himself as he went. He did the three S’s (shit, shower, shave – preferably in that order) and left the house by eight thirty. Of course, to make it to the job by nine he should have left thirty minutes ago.
So, like he did every day, David pulled his 1970 Mustang (not a classic but in decent enough shape for an old muscle car) into the parking lot at Tesla Industries at almost nine fifteen. As long as he didn’t run into Johnny on the way in he’d make it to his desk by twenty after and be just in time to avoid getting docked on his Attendance Points for being late again.
Of course Johnny was right there by the coffee machine when he walked through the door into the company break room.
“David!” Johnny called as he saw his friend, “Broseph, how’s it goin’? How hangs the hammer, man?” Johnny was a serious geek but had an annoying habit of talking like a frat boy.
“No time, J,” David insisted, grabbing a donut from the counter, “I’m late again and Stephens is gonna have my ass if I don’t get signed in.”
Like he did every day, Johnny seemed not to hear. “Aw, dude, get ready… they’re out in force today. I had this call earlier, real Eye-Dee-Ten-Tee error, y’know? Asshole tells me his computer is ‘broken.’ So I’m like, ‘in what way is it broken? What’s it doing or not doing to tell your know-nothing ass that it’s broken?’ And get this,” Johnny punctuated his pause with a deep sniff that at once could have bankrupted a Colombian cartel and sickened the largest of ladies’ sewing circles, “He says ‘the screen is black and it says ‘non system disk or disk error… abort, retry…’”
“He was trying to boot with a floppy disc in the A drive,” said David, completing a story he’d heard almost every day since he started working for Tesla.
“Right on, bromancing the stone!” Johnny sounded elated with his latest ‘bro’ pun, “So I’m thinkin’ ‘dude, like what year did you buy this computer?’ Like who has a floppy drive anymore? So I tell him-“
“Yeah, Johnny, I really gotta go, man,” David said as he stuffed the donut in his mouth and moved to the door that led to the call center floor.”
“Dude, you should take the Falcon; after all, it’s the ship-“
“That made the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs,” David finished the quote as he left the breakroom and made his way toward his desk. Star Wars was one of the things that he and Johnny had bonded over when they first joined the company and were in training class together. In a company that specializes in technical support for computers, game systems, and cellular phones, however, it wasn’t hard to find guys (and women, for that matter) who took their Star Wars perhaps a little too seriously.