Saturday, November 08, 2003

Not Quite an American Guitar Stallion

While working on the NaNoWriMo article, I stumbled across a nugget left over from last year. It's nothing I can really use for the article, but funny enough that I thought it would be worth posting here:


Day 0. Signed up today to participate in National Novel Writing Month (www.nanowrimo.org). The idea is to write a 50,000-word novel in thirty days. That works out to 1,667 words a day, or about six or seven pages. No sweat. I don't have a title, premise, or any characters yet, but that'll get worked out. Maybe something about competitive mountain bikers, or a gang of weirdoes who buy a bunch of property in a small rural town and take it over. The possibilities are endless.

Day 1- 1,683 words. Got a title: American Guitar Stallions. And a premise- an American Idol- style guitar contest. This way I can just write about all the freaks and egomaniacs I've dealt with at local shows and guitar shops. This thing'll write itself.

And we're off! An excerpt, taken from the opening scene, wherein the main character is waiting to audition for the contest:

Everyone around me looked kind of the same. There were a few standouts- the dark-skinned girl holding a stickered-up old Strat, a guy in a white-suit-skinny-tie getup who apparently misses the 80s a little much, and so on. But at first glance, anyway, the vast majority of the people in line for a chance to become an American Guitar Stallion look like Beck- skinny, messy hair, thrift-shop clothes calculated to be offbeat.

Nothing great, but we're shooting for quantity, not quality.

Day 4- 6,862 words. Knew that I wouldn't have a chance to work on the novel tonight, so I had to get my words in over lunch. Couldn't think of what should come next, so it's seven pages of the main character exchanging pointless emails with his girlfriend and bandmates. Guess he spends his workday just like I do.

Day 11- 17, 180 words. When bad people die, they must be forced to write a novel in a month. Every morning I wake up filled with dread that I'm going to have to force out another huge pile of crap. Then I start writing and fret all day that I'm not pumping it out quickly enough and that when it comes, it sucks like a VFW essay contest. Then I hit 1700 and have ten minutes of by-god-I-got-the-job-done bliss. Then I remember that it all starts up again tomorrow.

Day 15- 25,180 words. The Minneapolis cell of NaNoWriMo participants holds frequent pep-talk get-togethers. I went to one tonight, partly to shore up my flagging morale, partly to see what the other fools putting themselves through this wringer are like.

Since it was a Friday night, attendance was sparse- four of us showed up, including me. Novel topics were varied: an adventure novel about battling zombies, a team of lesbian superheroes, and a satire of fan fiction that involves graphic imaginings of sexual encounters between Lord of the Rings characters. Everyone was quite nice and supportive, although the conversation broke down to 5% novel talk and 95% personal lives.

Still, I went home confident that I had the power to hit 50.

Day 17- 28, 587 words. Who am I kidding? No one would ever run a televised guitar-playing contest. This nonsense, and it's not even funny. It's crap. All I'm doing each day is writing 300 words of action and 1400 words of descriptive padding. This is ridiculous. I quit.

Day 18- 30, 310 words. Felt so good to quit. Then I remembered that the Rake expressed interest in an article. Damn the Rake. Damn them to hell.

Time to roll the rock back up the hill.

Day 20- 33,727 words. My main character's girlfriend seems to show up only when I can't think of anything to write and decide to default to a sex scene for easy words. Which seems to happen every other day. What a nympho. This woman needs psychiatric help.

Day 23- 38,614 words. That splattering sound you just heard was me hitting the wall.

That's it. I'm out. You can stuff all of your "because it's there" arguments up your fundament. I can't face another day of this. My life isn't worth living while I'm chained to this thing. And even if I hit 50,000, this is no novel. It's hundreds of pages of verbose description with no action. Does the world need six pages detailing what it feels like to play an AC/DC song? By quitting, I'm doing us all a favor.

If anyone needs me, I'll be in the corner with a bottle of whiskey and a big knife.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

Got A Blue Moon in My Eye

For the past week or so, we've been working our way through Sopranos Season 4. Kind of slow, until we hit Episode 9 last night, during which a horse and then a major character die in rather spectacular fashion.

And to make sure that I'm not missing any important plot points, I've been going to the TV Without Pity recaps for each episode... That's a weird mix of interesting and frustrating. The guy doing the recaps can be insightful, but he's given to plopping these jive-ass pretend dialogues into the text; each time I see one, I sigh at the lameness of the world. And every so often, he'll through in bizarre political non sequiters along the lines of "I suppose this scene would mean more to you if you cared about the plight of the oppressed, but I, as a conservative, don't." Geesh, buddy... if I wanted my Sopranos commentary mixed with political maunderings, I'd read Lileks.