Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo 2011 Is Complete!

As I clicked the button to validate my NaNoWriMo novel on Sunday, two thoughts were running through my head. On the one hand, I was really proud of myself for completing the grueling challenge of writing a fifty-thousand word novel in a month. On the other hand, I was kicking myself for waiting four years to participate in NaNoWriMo again after first completing the challenge in 2007.

I approached things a little differently this time around, though. Whereas in 2007 I had only the roughest idea what I was going to be writing about, I went into NaNoWriMo 2011 with a plan. I had a strong vision for the main characters and the world I wanted to create, and I had a general outline for the arc of the story. That outline, though I deviated greatly from it several times, kept me true to the vision I had when I started the book, and led to a more coherent story overall, in my opinion. When I wrote my final words on November 26th, I had shattered the fifty-thousand word mark by eight thousand and change, and I was satisfied with how the story turned out. Don’t get me wrong--there is a lot of editing and rewriting to be done before the book is ready to see the light of day, but it’s a solid first draft to work from.

There is something so great about pushing yourself to write at a breakneck pace, never stopping to edit or second guess until you cross the finish line. Every day of NaNoWriMo is filled with unfettered creativity--I just go, because I can’t afford not to. And when I do that for an extended period of time, I realize just how often I have gotten in the way of my own creativity in the past. I have dozens of story ideas and half-finished pitches that have sat in obscurity because I pick them apart before I even get started. Case in point--the NaNoWriMo novel I just wrote is based on an idea I had for a comic in 2008 that never came to fruition.

I can say without reservation that both times I have participated in NaNoWriMo have been two of the most unique creative experiences I have ever had. Even more important to me than the experiences themselves is the lesson they reinforce--get out of your own way and create.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

NaNoWriMo Update--50,000 Words and Counting!

I just wanted to give a quick update about my NaNoWriMo progress--I've hit the 50,000-word mark! The 50k mark is the goal that participants set out with at the beginning of the month, as it is the accepted threshold for qualifying as a novel. When I completed NaNoWriMo back in 2007, I squeaked over the 50k, line finishing with about 50,200 words. This time around, I really didn't have any trouble hitting the word count goal, which I think was an indicator of how much I wanted to tell this story. My work is far from over however, as I have at least two more scenes and an epilogue to write before the story will be complete. But, I wanted to take a moment and celebrate the fact that I stuck to my daily goal of 2000 words, and that allowed me to break the 50k barrier before Thanksgiving.

Now I can focus on bringing the story to a satisfying conclusion, and really enjoy the last week of NaNoWriMo. This has been an awesome experience so far!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Year Without War (Gaming)

I’m taking a break.

Since the arrival of Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare in 2007, I have been an active participant in the yearly cycle of military-themed first-person shooters. CoD: World at War, Battlefield: Bad Company, CoD: Modern Warfare 2, Battlefield 1943, Battlefield: Bad Company 2, CoD: Black Ops and even Medal of Honor--I bought and played them all. I also spent countless hours in the competitive multiplayer modes of those games, and I have some great memories of playing with friends over XBox Live until the wee hours of the morning.

Over the past few years, I have come to like the Battlefield series the most, as I am not very good at first-person shooters, and the Battlefield games reward you for playing supportive roles, as opposed to just killing enemies. So it stands to reason then, that I was really excited to play the multiplayer beta of Battlefield 3, which I downloaded and checked out as soon as it was available.

A funny thing happened while I was playing the Battlefield 3 beta a while back, though--I realized I don’t really give a crap about these games anymore. They’re all basically the same now. You run around a map, killing bad guys and capturing strategic points. You get experience points for doing so, which you use to unlock new skills and weapons. You do this over and over again--wash, rinse, repeat. The maps in each game pretty much fall into the desert area, snow-covered area, jungle area and urban area categories.  It’s all the same, and I just don’t care about it anymore.

So, I’m taking the year off.  No Modern Warfare 3 or Battlefield 3 for me. It won’t be easy, because every single one of my gaming friends has these games right now, and  every Friday and Saturday night they invite me to play.  But I will stay strong, and I will devote what precious little gaming time I have to games that I really enjoy. Dark Souls, Saints Row 3, Batman: Arkham City, Skyrim, Uncharted 3--all games that have either immersive worlds or interesting storylines (or both) that I can get lost in.

Am I forsaking shooters? No way. I can’t wait to download the original Crysis on Xbox Live or check out Id’s post-apocalyptic Rage. As I write this, I have Gears of War 3 sitting on my gaming shelf, and I will absolutely be playing through the campaign and enjoying the cooperative modes with friends. I’m just done with the cookie-cutter, competitive multiplayer, military shooters (CCCMMS) for now.

Who knows? A year off may rekindle my enthusiasm for the CCCMMS genre. Or, I may never come back again. Time will tell.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Holy Power Outage, Batman!

It’s been a while since I updated the site, and the primary reason for that is because I have not had power for the past eight days. An October Nor’Easter brought down hundreds of trees in the New England area, and left hundreds of thousands without power. The damage was so extensive, we did not get our power (and heat) back until this afternoon, eight full days after it first went out. It’s been a hectic and trying week, but through the support of family, we came through okay.

On a positive note, I have been jamming on my NaNoWriMo novel whenever I’ve had the chance, and I’m on pace to hit the 50k word count by the end of the month. I’ll post more about that in the weeks to come.