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3 Day Novel -- Morning After Thoughts

I have been doing this every year since 2000. This is only the second time I paid the entry fee and did it officially. The year after that, I was broke and just did one unofficially but succeeded in a self-set goal of breaking 40,000 words over Labor Day Weekend. The year after that I was still broke. 2005, I got my Social Security and wasn't broke, but by then I'd fallen into the habit of doing the contest unofficially just to be doing it -- just to prove to myself that I could do it.

I also fell into a bad habit of procrastinating on sending in the entry fee until it was too late, winding up broke and not having it at the last minute. That didn't happen this year. I budgeted it and got it paid.

That made a huge difference. But so did my eight unofficial three day novels. The first time I did the contest, it was hard. I borely slept. When I did it was short and I woke up in a complete panic, pounding the keys again without stopping to make up for the lost time. 3 Day was my endurance trial. It was the one time every year that I did something every jogger, marathon runner, bicyclist, skier or other athlete does -- push my body and mind to their absolute limits and find out what those were reaching a personal goal.

Each year it got easier.

Each year my wordcount rose and my breaks got a little longer without hurting my count. I paced myself better. I remembered to eat. I didn't make as much of a big deal out of doing it. After all, I'd done it before. It was tough, but it never seemed impossible again after that first year. I've also been lucky that it comes at my best time of year. Like Nanowrimo, it comes in the fall when the weather in temperate climates lightens up on my arthritis.

Last year's novel, my 2008 unofficial 3 Day Novel, was 75,000 words. I got that used to the routine and I think I was starting to type faster every year too. When I switched to the Dvorak keyboard layout in 2000, it improved my pace of writing in about a year. I had been typing 81 words a minute with one or two errors. I went higher than that based on loose estimates of wordcount. I also think I type faster on smaller keyboards than full size ones. My fingers are short and stubby, the less I have to reach, the faster I go and the less it bothers my hands.

In fact, the more I type every day, the easier it is on my hands. It's surprising, but my hands hurt bad on days I don't type. If I go offline and don't journal or anything, spend the whole day doing other things, I wake up with aching hands and don't feel better until I type some.

I hung out on Twitter this year. I met other 3 Day Novelists, some of whom must have been regulars. That's when I realized what I did to myself by not getting the entry in officially during those eight missed years. I could have been connecting with others in the contest. I could have been getting the full benefit of it instead of just getting in some good practice for when I got around to finally doing it for real. I missed eight chances to win. I don't know and never will know if any of the eight missed-year novels might have grabbed the judges.

I did something crazy this last weekend and it took Twittering and hanging out with the rest -- many of whom I'm sure are regular contestants who've done it for years -- to remember that yes, this is something insane. This is something gigantic. This is not just something fun I do every year for a three day vacation from reality, about like waiting for the next Harry Potter book.

I did something loony over the top huge and thought of it as easy, because it was easy. It was easy from an unbelievable amount of practice and it rests on the top of a mountain of trunk novels, most of which if I'm honest with myself, will never see the light of day. It's more fun for me to work on a new novel than it is to go back a few years and edit an old one or worse, finish up an abandoned half-novel. I'm not the same person I was when I first got the idea and I'm not living in the same place, not hanging with the same people, not thinking the same things.

I keep stripping out most of this entry to rewrite it. Staying on topic. This year I did beat down all my fears and put my money down, entered it for real. This one is a submission. One down when it leaves the house. Four to go, they can be anything. They will be fiction though, the articles I send in to EmptyEasel.com don't count.

The last two times I gave myself this kind of shove, forcing myself past my fears to send out fiction, I got pro short story sales. Three of them in close succession would get me a SFWA card. It will probably take more than three stories to do that, but I've come pretty darn close. They might not all be short stories though, just one novel acceptance would get me that SFWA card.

That is goal next. I want my SFWA card. I need to join the union and do the job.
Explore-Oil-Pastels-With-Robert-Sloan.com Articles at eHow.com, ETSY shop, My Bonanzle Booth, deviantART gallery, SFFmuse and look for art by robertsloan2art on eBay. Listed on Art Blogs 4 U
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Interesting art blog: Patrick's Art Blog focused on realism!
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Robert A. Sloan, author of Raven Dance
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