National Novel Writing Month 2008: A Timeline


See a class called “How To Write a Novel In a Month” while registering. Decide this is the class for me because 1) I like writing novels, 2) I like having no time to revise, and 3) I only needed one more credit hour.

August–First Week of Class
Discover this is a Martel Student Taught Course. Half the people signed up are Serious English Major Novelists, the other half seem to make up Rice’s Anime Club.

August–Second Week of Class
Discover the Serious English Major Novelists have dropped the class en masse. Learn about: how writing is a serious mystical art that puts your mind in tune with the gods; anime.

September–Third Week of Class
Begin bringing laptop and playing Mah Jong during class, which this week consists of watching a youtube fan video about Halo 2 or something. And always the constant hum of Anime in the background.

September–Fourth Week of Class
Listen to a girl’s novel idea about puppies that, when they lick you, they change your gender.

Rest of September
Skip class. See above.

Try to think of ideas for 50,000 word novels that I could write way fast. Decide to just write about my summer job at the library in third person, artfully changing everyone’s name. Figure that will give me AT LEAST 50,000 words of ridic stories.

November 1st
Start novel. Decide this is going to be easy.

November 5th
Already 1000 words behind.

November 10th
3000 words behind. Introduce library trolls for variety.

November 12th
Library trolls aren’t working out. Change plot entirely so that it is now Me (Summer Intern) and the elderly assistant director against a horde of zombies and other book characters that have come alive and are attacking the library in the night.

November 13th
We team up with Napoleon. Excerpt:

I saw that Pat was shifting nervously from foot to foot. “Parlez-vous anglais, Monsieur?
“Vous etes anglaises?!? Je deteste les anglais!”
“Non, non, Monsieur, nous sommes americaines!”
This did not seem to assuage the French general’s suspicions. He glared at us with narrowed eyes. “Yes,” he finally said grudgingly in a heavy French accent. “I do speak English. The text in the side bars around my pictures is in English.”
“So you know that you’re a literary character and not the real Napoleon?” Pat asked, narrowing her eyes. Clearly in her experience this had never happened before.
“Bien sur! The real Napoleon died in 1821. It happens in the end of my book. I was just about to fight Waterloo, as I’ve done precisely seven hundred and fourteen times before, when instead of walking out of my quarters into the dewy morning light, here I was in this… this… how do you say in English?”
“Library?” I supplied.
“Library,” Napoleon agreed. “And there was a dead man attacking me. Most unusual. Does that happen often here? This is, as you say, the real world?”
“Yes,” Pat said. “Welcome to reality, Mr. Bonaparte, or at least the library, which is a step in that direction.”
“I do not like it here at all,” Napoleon said, sheathing his saber and folding his arms across his chest. “I demand that you put me back in my literary genre this instant.”
“Easier said than done,” Pat said. “First we have to find the book you came from.”
“Facile! It’s
Napoleon Bonaparte. A biography.”
Pat sighed. “Mr. Bonaparte, we own approximately fifty three books on Napoleon. I assume yours was a child’s biography.”
“Yes, I don’t have syphilis,” Napoleon agreed. “As Andrew Jackson once told me the real Napoleon did. I was mis-shelved next to him once,” he added by way of explanation.

November 14th
Still about 4000 words behind. Give up on plot and start writing random, free-association paragraphs about my life. Excerpt:
Pompeii. I first heard about Pompeii in the fourth grade, and it terrified me. Lots of silly things terrified me in the fourth grade—for instance I spent eight years of my life terrified of Immaculate Conception—but Pompeii I found incredibly creepy. I don’t think I understood exactly how it worked—when the town is covered in ash and preserves everything. Now I realize that the bodies rotted away as normal and the holes left in the ash are what are important—though how they excavate the holes intact I’m still unsure. At the time I thought their bodies somehow lasted, locked in ash, and that these were the, in reality, plaster figures I saw in pictures. The thought of scraping off the ash to the body underneath I found scary. Not to mention the thought of being in a room peopled by ash covered zombies. I think it must have been an early manifestation of my eventual zombie fear.

November 25th
With a lame segue, copy in all the notes I had written that year as Secretary to meet word count.

November 30th
Add some bogus ending attempting to tie it all together subtitled “The Library of the Mind”. Upload to NaNoWriMo website. Send verification page to Student Prof (who I have not seen in approximately two months due to skipping class constantly).

Get an A/Pass. Awesome. Vow to never think about it again.

Or so I thought.

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