Recently, in the 43 Things category…

NaNoWriMo ended yesterday, and I’m proud to say I won, finishing the story at 50,097 words at about nine last night. It was a lot of late nights and long weekends, but it was fun. I kept track of my time as best I could, and it took me about 80 hours of writing time for that 50K+ words. It helped that Angela and I were both writing novels—I can see where it would put a strain on a marriage to have one person tied to the computer that much for a month.

I learned a few things in the process:

  • I think I could write about 1,000 words a day with little trouble. At the rate I was writing, that would be about an hour and a half. That’s not that much time out of the day, but it would be a significant amount toward blog posts, articles, short stories, novels, etc.
  • My greatest weakness as a writer is descriptions. To give you an idea, I finished the story (as I had it in my head before NaNoWriMo) in about 25K+ words. I was showing what happened without setting the scene.
  • My greatest strength is dialogue. Most of the novel is dialogue—some of it is kind of clunky, but there are also some gems in there that hit just the right note.
  • I know absolutely nothing about guns, which is going to be a problem if I’m going to be writing contemporary thrillers like this one.
  • I like to write.

I’m going to take a break from this novel for a few weeks, then go back to it and see if I can revise it into something worth submitting to publishers. If I can, great. If not, oh well. It was an adventure, and adventure is good for the soul. I’ll most likely do it again next year unless, of course, I’m being chased by weapons smugglers. Then, no way.

(323. Sorry, old habits die hard.)

I had two years of Spanish in high school, and another two years of it in college. Straight A’s all the way through. With those years of study under my belt, I can go into any Mexican restaurant and sound slightly less dumb when I order. I cannot, however, speak a complete sentence in Spanish.

You might think it would be hard to study something for four years and not get anything out of it, but it’s really not. I just memorized what I needed to memorize to get my A. I wasn’t interested in learning Spanish, so I didn’t try to understand what I was doing. Thinking about it now, I probably shouldn’t have received such high grades. But, there’s not much a teacher can do about kids like me — grades have to be based on objective results. I knew it all, but didn’t understand a bit of it.

Now, I’m starting to wish I did understand more than one language. I think it would expand the list of countries I would feel comfortable visiting. Spanish would be the obvious choice, but I think I’d be more interested in French or maybe German. Maybe I’ll choose a dead language so nobody will know if I’m pronouncing it right.

I’ll start by visiting the library to see what options they have. Another possibility would be something from If I can find something I enjoy using it will be easier to stick with it. I also want something that will teach me to understand and use the language, not just help me pronounce, “Excuse me, where is the bathroom?”

See more progress on: Learn another language

If things go as planned, my wife and I will start work on our book in April. We had planned to use a wiki to collaborate on the book, but I might try out Hieraki, a wiki-style app that has some book-specific features.

See more progress on: Write a book (nonfiction)

I’ve been making up stories since I was a kid. I suppose that sounds bad, like I’m a habitual liar. These stories were just for me. When playing with my toys, I was never bound by the universe the toy manufacturers created. In my room, Kobra Khan, Storm Shadow, and Krang plotted together to destroy the good toys. Of course, all the characters brought their own personal baggage into the storyline. Even my Hot Wheels had plots and subplots.

With all these stories rattling around in my head, I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Unfortunately, there’s never time for such things, what with life and all. When I heard about National Novel Writing Month, that sounded perfect for me — a one month, no holds barred writing marathon. My wife is going to write a novel, too, so it should be a lot of fun. I’m really looking forward to November.

See more progress on: write a novel