1/31/2013 - 4th Day - Morning. What a December Project we've had. As in previous years, our December Project lasted the two full months of December and January. But this was not a traditional DP at all. I actually spent most of my time on the computer since I was writing all month, but the other general and flexible rules applied. Mostly we didn't go to town, and we survived on the food and supplies in our larder.
In the second week of January I found out about #NaNoWriWee through a twitter re-tweet and I was immediately interested. #NaNoWriWee (National Novel Writers Weekend) was the brainchild of Kernel Magazine, which is a British tech/start-up online e-zine. The challenge was basically a parody of #NaNoWriMo, the much heralded indie writer's gathering place where 100,000 or more aspiring writers get together to encourage one another to write a 50,000 word Novel in the month of November. The ostensible goal of #NaNoWriWee was to find enough crazy people out there who would sit down and attempt to write a novel or novelette (or short story) in only 30 hours ofwriting time. This was a plan that was right up my alley.
I'd already published four books just during the December Project, and two of those were novel length books written from scratch. FUTURITY, at nearly 50,000 words (and now zooming up the Amazon.com bestseller ranks in its categories, by the way) was actually written during a week and a half time period when I was waiting for my co-writer on W1CK to get back to me with his re-writes, and 13,000 words of it had been written in about six hours on a Sunday afternoon, so I knew I have the ability to put a lot of words out there quickly if I am inspired and have a good story in my head.
I quickly signed up for #NaNoWriWee, though I knew that the whole thing was kind of crazy. My goal was going to be 30,000 words, even though I knew I wouldn’t even have the full 30 hours to work, since I keep the Sabbath on Saturday. The challenge was taking place in London, England and - via the Internet – all over the world, and the last I heard there were 376 individuals signed up to take part. It was announced right before the start of the challenge that HarperCollins UK was going to publish “the winner,” although there were no actual rules or specified means by which a “winner” would be picked. There were a few general categories, and humor and satire was one of the categories, so I chose that one. I’d wanted to do a zombie parody, and #NaNoWriWee gave me the perfect opportunity to do a satire on a number of things that always need skewering.
I decided that my story was going to take place in real time, in London, during #NaNoWriWee. My story was going to involve Zombies who were going around London eating only good writers. I’d heard that Hugh Howey, author of the AWESOME Wool Omnibus, the hottest thing out there in publishing (It’s great, even if you don’t like Sci-Fi… check it out!), was going to be in England at some point to sign books, so I decided that putting him in the book as a character would be a great way to tie the things together that I wanted to satirize in the book. I emailed Hugh, expecting that he would be way too busy to answer me, but I quickly received a great reply from him, and he graciously allowed me to use his likeness and name in the book (What a great guy!.)
Fifty writers were invited to write their novels in the Kernel Magazine offices, and I’d been invited too (like most everyone else I suspect), but I’d never been to England and I certainly wasn’t going now. The folks running the joint kept the rules loose and airy, there weren’t going to be any real strict requirements or time-keeping, other than the finish time. For those of us over-seas, so long as the writing time was under 30 hours, and the novel was turned in on time, the rest of the rules were flexible. It would have been nice to know this on Thursday, when I finally came up with my idea, because I would have written all day Friday since I had to take all day Saturday off. I had every intention of playing by the rules, and I was glad that the people running the thing were going to allow us to be a little flexible with our own schedules. Anyway, since challenge time started for me at 2 a.m. on Saturday morning, and we had leave to be flexible within the thirty hour limit, I started writing on Friday afternoon, and got about six hours in before it was time to quit for the night.
I had every intention of sleeping all day Saturday, so that I could hit it at sundown on Saturday night and write straight through to the finish, which was at 6 p.m. Sunday my time. But I drank so much coffee during my 6 hours of writing time on Friday, that I barely slept an hour on Friday night. I got out of bed on Saturday morning and I was still wired. That would have been a great time of productive writing for me, but I was already committed to do no writing on Saturday, so I relaxed, read a little, and watched Guys and Dolls on the motel television. I didn’t sleep all day, like I’d planned.
As sundown rolled around, I was fired up and ready to write! I started back into the story at about 7 p.m. local time, and by 9 p.m. I was exhausted. I was having trouble thinking, and my mind was completely fried from lack of sleep and too much coffee. By about 9:30, I knew I wasn’t going to make it unless I could get a few hours’ sleep. So I sacked out, planning on getting up at midnight and going straight through to the deadline.
That’s not the way it worked out. I woke up with a jolt at 6:30 a.m., and I was under the 12 hour mark until the challenge was over! I jumped into the chair and shook the cobwebs out of my head and got back to work. It felt like I hadn’t slept at all, though I had been out for almost 9 hours.
I finished #NaNoWri War Z with just a few hours left to go in the challenge. I’d hit almost 29,000 words, and I was satisfied with both the story, and my work, though I was still kicking myself for missing those 9 hours. During the morning on Sunday I contacted my friends Ante and Kate in Croatia, because Kate does some of my book covers. I had given her my ideas on a book cover, but she’d fallen really sick and I hadn’t heard back from her. She promised to get me a book cover before the challenge ended, and I got it from her with about 3 hours to go. I quickly e-mailed the cover over to Hugh Howey, because I still had this gnawing feeling that somehow this little parody of mine might rub the guy the wrong way. Especially since the last chapter was entitled HUGH HOWEY MUST DIE! But he again emailed me right back! He told me the book cover was awesome, and that he wanted me to proceed with his blessing. Wow!
So, in my complete mind-fog, and without understanding most of what I was reading, I spent the next two hours trying to edit the book a little. That was a huge failure, but I figured that it was 30,000 words written in actually less than 18 hours of real writing time. What could anyone expect?
At about 5:30 p.m. my time, a half-hour before the deadline, I emailed my info to the folks at Kernel magazine, and I was done.
Later we learned that there were going to be some awards (I wonder what those will be?), and that it was going to take a few weeks to get everything sorted and posted and voted on, etc. HarperCollins UK announced that they would bloody-well publish whichever one they liked best, regardless of which books won which award (and I don’t blame them.) They said they might publish more than one, if any with merit were found. But all of this was going to take a few weeks, so… I’ll be waiting by the phone… if I had a phone… which I don’t.
So here is my #NaNoWriWee submission. Barely and only lightly edited and touched, it’s substantively in the form in which it was submitted. So far, about five people have told me that they’ve read it, and all five loved it. But that doesn’t mean anything at all. I certainly don’t want to be remembered or judged by #NaNoWri War Z, but it was fun, and the book is fun too.
I was certainly not eaten during the writing of it… nor have I been eaten since.
Check it out. It's only .99 and the few people who have read it, say it's funny. But you be the judge of that, and make sure to leave a review at Amazon.com. If you've ever wanted to see what kind of comedy a serious man can write in less than 30 hours, with a brain fried on caffeine and the consideration of zombies who eat literature and literary figures, this is your opportunity.