I think I have to give up -- 11/22/03

I think I have to give up on completing 50,000 words by the end of the month for NaNoWriMo.

Oh, I suppose I could still do it -- well, in theory, at least. There's a week left and I'm taking the rest of the month off (vacation days Mon, Tues, Wed; holiday for Thurs & Fri.) and I have no doubt that if I forced myself to sit at this computer for much of that time I could knock out the requisite 38,946 words.

But I'm not crazy enough to do that.

I might spend one of those days pumping out a few more words, just for fun, but I'm not going to wreck this coming week just to hit that 50k target.

Will I try again next year? I don't know. Maybe. This was kind of fun. If I hadn't felt so rotten and wiped out back on the weekend of the 8th & 9th (which produced zero words) and if I had been able to write on both days last weekend, etc. Anyway, I did accomplish a few goals. After not having written fiction in years (okay, not for decades) I discovered that I can still do it.

I know I can write non-fiction. I don't just mean these assorted essays, memoirs, rants and letters-to-the-world that I've been posting here in recent years. Over the past eight years I have written a significant number of books as part of my job. Some were solo works and some were as co-author. A typical course would have at the least an instructor guide, a student guide, and an exercise guide. The size of these books varied depending on the complexity of the material and the length of the course. The instructor's book for a five day class could run to a thousand pages. The student book for that course might be a bit over six hundred pages. Please note that the instructor book is a duplicate of the student book plus pages of notes for the instructor. In a sense, the student book is the instructor book minus the pages of instructor notes. Thus, we are really only writing one thousand pages which turns into a thousand page book plus a six hundred page book. And there might be lots of white space. And there are graphics (the same graphic that the instructor would project on a screeen during the class). Yes, we would design and create those graphics as well. Anyway, the point is that I wouldn't be writing one thousand pages of solid text. However, the words do add up.

So instructor book and student book really count as one book. The same applies to the exercises. An instructor's version of a lab exercise guide is really just the student exercise guide with additional information about running the labs. So count that as really being just one book. Over the past eight years I've written a dozen books and been co-author on another ten. That's not counting revised or updated editions and not counting various customized presentations and a few less than book-length works. Nor does it count situations where I've really just consulted on a topic or tweaked someone else's work.

Participating in NaNoWriMo let me discover that I can write something besides technical training material and webpage entries. Once-upon-a-time -- back in days of yore, days of pencils and yellow legal pads and manual typewriters -- I could do that. I didn't know if I still could or not.

Now I know that I still can. At the end of the summer my daughter and I were talking about co-authoring a novel. We did some background work -- created characters, background setting, etc. -- but never started writing. Although it appears that neither of us is going complete NaNoWritMo, I think we have both learned from the experience and when we get some time off at Christmas, we may very well sit down and start writing.

Why am I not going to chain myself to this computer for the next nine days to finish my NaNoWriMo novel? I think it's called having a life. There is a lot of cleaning and clearing that has to be done around the house before Thanksgiving -- especially right here in the den. The den is total disaster area. We have plans for straightening and clearing and organizing. Jeremy wants to bring his computer down here. I had finally ordered plants from Miller Nurseries and the shipment has arrived and sometime today (fortunately we are having very mild weather this weekend) Gillian and I have dig some holes and plant half a dozen blackberries and half a dozen blueberries. Also, although this is a vacation week for me, I still have some work-related stuff I need to do, including participating in a telephone conference call Monday afternoon. Wednesday night we will have at least a dozen people (maybe more, maybe many more) here for dinner and Thanksgiving eve partying. Thursday morning Gillian and I are going to run in our usual five mile race (and since I've mostly been using the exercise bike in the basement, I really need to get out and do a couple of four or five mile runs before then) and then there's the huge family Thanksgiving gathering, etc., etc....

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