A great disaster. For a novel I started working on in October, 2006, I started doing some research. There’s a portion of it that takes place in an old, abandoned city, one that had been left in destitution for centuries, so I was looking around for theories on what happens to a modern city when left to the forces of nature. To my shame, I had forgotten about the Chernobyl disaster. In my research, I rediscovered it.

There’s an excellent site - an adventerous woman takes a motorcycle tour of Chernobyl and surrounding areas, including Pripiat. See KIDDofSPEED. It is thought-provoking, saddening, and generally depressing. It provided the example for which I was looking.

After reading the site, I began to wonder if some of the pictures she had could be viewable on google maps. They were. Here are some interesting comparisons.

Also, you can go to wikimapia and search for Chernobyl or Prypiat. There, people have outlined places and you can get a little more infomation.

NaNoWriMo wrapped up, of course, on November 30. How’d I do? I wound up with a word count of 48,459. Not the goal of NaNoWriMo, I know. But, it satisfies me that with an outline, and setting aside a few hours a night for writing 5 out of 7 days a week, I can make some tremendous progress towards a novel. Personally, after doing this the second time, I’ve come to agree with these wise words - I’d rather have spent the time writing something worth reading than cranking out 50,000 words worth of crap.

Some of the participants I checked ran way over, some nearing 100,000 words, but when I checked their excerpts, I must say YAWN. Not worth the time. Not one excerpt I read sparked my interested except maybe the one for a piece titled AFTRLYF. To be honest, I only checked people in my region, and maybe, just maybe there’s truth to the 700 monkeys for 700 years, that one of these folks has turned out the works of the master himself, but I’d be hard pressed to figure out which one it was!

Long and short, with a writing plan, I’ve proven to myself that I can still maintain home life, my full time job, and produce sizable and (hopefully) worthwhile works of fiction in a reasonable amount of time. Oh, and the piece I started is only about half done. I wasn’t in any hurry to meet the NaNoWriMo goal necessarily because it was in no way indicative of the novel I’m writing.

Today kicks off NaNoWriMo. I’ve completed most of my novel’s outline, and I cranked out over 1500 words in just a few hours. The outline thing seems to have gotten me off to a great start! My writing came easily, I didn’t have to debate plot lines, or wonder where the hell I’m going with it - all I had to do now was write the scenes I’ve already laid out.

The story is called “The Secret of Kingship”. I know NaNoWriMo is supposed to just be for fun, but I’m using it to see if I can more easily discipline myself to write when I already know what I’m writing. I do intend to publish the book, and assuming the outline really does help in the long run, I’ll make that the first step in my writing process. If I can’t get an agent or publisher, I’ll post the work here, and I will also look into print on demand for anyone who might be interested.

Well, I’m going back to writing now!

I’m actually preparing myself for NaNoWriMo this year. I suppose it’s really just a coincident, but I’m creating an outline for my novel, “The Secret of Kingship”. I finished reading Robert McKee’s book, “Story”, and it has inspired me. It truly gave me a better understanding of story telling in the modern age.

Anyhow, I’ve been working on an actual outline, character dossiers, and other such stuff for a week or so now. And I’m going into this feeling very well prepared. I guess we’ll see, but I think when it comes down to it, good writing is not an accident. Good writing is planned. Maybe not down to the smallest detail, but it is planned. One of my (new) favorite quotes from McKee’s book is:

When forced to work within a strict framework the imagination is taxed to its utmost - and will produce its richest ideas. Given total freedom the work is likely to sprawl.

- T. S. Eliot

I think my work sprawls when it’s not planned out. My first attempt at NaNoWriMo flopped, no because I couldn’t write, but because I ran out of things to write. I think having a plan (chapters, scenes, characters, themes, subplots) ahead of time will permit me to spend the month of November actually doing what NaNoWriMo requires - producing quantity.

It seems to me that self-publishing has an awful reputation in the literary community. I think the view is that if you’re not good enough to get picked up by a major magazine or publishing house, then you’re just not worth reading.

However, we see more and more in other arts that self-publishing and promoting can break the industry barrier. And, in my opinion, the independently funded and promoted works in many ways exceed the quality of the mainstream channels.

Independent film making has taken off quite well in the past few years. Decades, probably, but I honestly don’t track the film industry. We also see more and more in the music industry that new bands break into the scene not by being ‘discovered’, but by making their art available and letting the public decide. They create the demand, and then the industry comes in later to pick them up and give them the deals they probably should have been able to get from the first.

Blogging seems to be an equivilent in the writing industry. I think we see now where more and more publishing houses are picking up popular bloggers and either publishing compilations of their blogs or offering them book deals. However, I don’t see many bloggers spitting out works of fiction or poetry.

I think it’s time for the fiction and poetry writers of the world to take those chances. There are printers who are more than happy to print anything you can afford. There are also now more and more ways of creating electronic versions of works.

So - my goal for now is to distribute as much of my work as possible. I want it out in the public eye. And if it really is worth reading, then it’ll get around. If it’s not, then I’ll keep producing and trying to make things that are worth reading.