CampNaNoWriMo: Day 1-2

Author's Note: It's no secret: I haven't been writing. Every time I sat down to write The Renegade Messiah, I'd become angry and bitter. I had my heart broken by my own hand, but the object of my affection still lingers in the background. Distant, but close enough to still hurt. I'd open the word file, begin to write about characters, and become depressed. Or sad, or whatever. The point is that I couldn't write. I was angry, and sad, and alone in my literary world.

Until recently. Enough time has passed that my slow burning anger has died down enough that I can see clearly. I can't call it forgiveness, but I'll call it acceptance. Something I've never been able to claim as a personality trait of my own. So, I accept that I was hurt, that I may have hurt someone in return, and that life--somehow--continues on without us both. Fuck it, I need to get back to writing.

CampNaNoWriMo has been running for the last 22 days. I have 8 days left, and I'm certainly not going to win this one. I'm writing, yes, but I'm not writing to the speed of 3,000 words a day yet. So I'll claim my first loss at #CampNaNoWriMo but I still get to claim it as a win for myself.

You're going to be presented with two versions of this story. The first version (the one I'm not keeping) was written during the beginning of April when I was still struggling with a setting and a point of view. You'll see where I struggled, but it's important for me to share my writing with you even if it goes nowhere. This first story got buried in trying to figure itself out.

The Renegade Messiah - Days 1-2

Word count: 1,542

Chapter One - Deus Hex

My weakness for men was Model #15. A line of custom DNA that resulted in pale skin, sharp cheek-bones and unusual height. To the last man, they had stark black hair and eyes as dark as the soul they didn’t believe in. They weren’t all atheists--genetics couldn’t program faith or lack of faith yet--but it was only a matter of time. I just got lucky when I found the ones that were attractive and didn’t believe in any outdated religion. It made life a little easier when I wasn’t worried about running from the Deus Hex.

The biggest flaw with Model #15 was the social shortcomings. Something in the genetics that made them irresistible to me also made them emotionally unavailable. Or maybe it was just the ones I had met.

There were slight genetic alterations in Model #15 since they’d been introduced a few generations ago. My personal favorite was #15.5 because of their shining silver eyes and updated social genetics. They had a “filter” which made holding a conversation or a relationship with them a little easier.

But when you just wanted sex--you went with Model #15 because they, honestly, didn’t give a fuck.

So Model #15 was my favorite right up until the time I fell in love with one.

My name is Raize. I’m a fuck up, I’m a failure, and I am the last hope that human kind has. Don’t ask me why because I have no idea; no one asked me, either. But let me tell you how falling in love with someone--no, that’s not the right phrase.

Let me tell you how fucking someone--fucked me instead. Turned my life upside down, sent me on the run, and down this rabbit hole full of bat shit crazy and whatever. My life went from zero to shit before I could even blink. And I was pretty close to rock bottom as it was.

#

I’ll lay it out as simply as I can: hundreds of years ago, mankind perfected genetic coding of their own DNA. They took alterations in their own hands and started with the basics. They trimmed and spliced and combined until they took out pre-existing conditions. Genetic imperfections were removed, or aspects that parents--and eventually, society--felt were problematic: no more depression that runs in the family, no more history of cancer, no more premature balding. Seriously, they wasted money andresources on stopping that when they ran out of serious issues to worry about.

Eventually they spliced up some jellyfish DNA and cracked the mystery of aging. It was all very fascinating in the late 22nd Century. I wasn’t there; that was a long time ago, but I pay attention when I have to. I’m sure something in my own genetics can account for that, but I’m not at liberty to know.

Genetics and landscapes and governments may have changed--but money is still power, and the poor still eat dirt when there’s nothing else around. Only the rich can afford to have their children protected against sickness and “disadvantages.” The poor, like myself, only have access to the basic genetic treatments. Our lives are extended (probably not as much as the rich bastards, if I had to guess), and our health is maintained at least until birth. After that, the government doesn’t really care what happens to us.

We’re separate, the poor. Kept apart from the upper class world and given the physically demanding jobs that the rich people couldn’t handle, no matter how exploited their DNA is. But our slavery comes with its own freedom: we’re not monitored like the rich are. Our veins aren’t pumped with anti-depressants or birth control, our bodies aren’t regulated and controlled.

They save all the good stuff for the rich—but I say, let them have it. The rich are allowed to have children and raise families, but they still have to put in a petition to get pregnant or get married. Their “genetic integrity” must be preserved, and therefore, diligently protected. But the poor? The poor can have sex, and abortions—paid for by the government, even—without having to wait months for approval. It's a fringe benefit; sex is free, so let the poor have it. It just means more workers for the rich later, right?

[Author note: this is all considered an “info dump,” wherein I'm basically throwing story facts at you from the character and/or narrator, for you to digest so that I don't have to slowly, tediously reveal this information through the story itself. It's generally considered “not a good thing to do,” but I'm on a word/time limit and if I can figure out how to show all this instead of tell, then I certainly will – in draft 2! First person is not my strongest style, so I'm honestly not sure how details like society and world changes are made without just... saying it. Note to self: why the hell did I choose first person perspective?!]

My name is Raize. I'm 28 years old and I am a member of the lower-class, section E (for “electric”) of the sixth level. My father was from section E and my mother was from section R (for “retail”) originally, and when my father retired—the government moved us to section E because there was more room. Section E sits on the western edge of the city with it's wall pressed hard against the remains of the Pacific Ocean. It's to harness the water; something about processing salt and lightning, I'm not really sure. I've never been outside the walls of The City. I've seen pictures of it on the giant plasma screens that are all over the city—but my family was never given a screen, so I don't get to see it very often. I could lay awake at night after curfew and walk the streets if I wanted to see the screen, they never turn it off, but a few glimpses on my way to work was always enough.

The world outside The City was a wasteland. Nothing but sand and a sea full of salt water and death. Anyone who did make it outside of the city walls wouldn't live long enough to tell. The City was self-sufficient, run (mostly) by genetically amplified humans. The Government ran The City, the Deus Hex ran the people, and the people ran the machines.

I happened to run a machine that made “pizza” and other historic foodstuffs that our government issued credits allowed us. I hated the food, but the work wasn't so bad. And with my piss-poor genetics, it was the Retail Section or the Prison Section, and I preferred my Model 15's clean. I would have slung pizza until my genetics wore themselves out or I couldn't maintain the upkeep costs—but life, it seemed, had other plans.

Plans that included getting pregnant, and not wanting to keep the baby, and getting on some government list that marked me as the Antichrist. In a city where religion is illegal (the Deus Hex mandate atheism as the official religion), being pegged as the bringer of a religious … clusterfuck wasn't the best thing to have happen. It turns out it was a lot more specific than that. Details. I'm getting there.

I mentioned that rich people get all the good genetics, right? Well, genetics became something like fashion, and everyone wants the best of the best. As a result, the “fashionable” trends in DNA changed the way the rich perceived beauty. Model #15 was beautiful for me; but the upper class people were on Model #220's and #230's, they were years ahead of what genetics the poor were allowed to partake in.

The current trend was Model #230—it had been all the rage over the past decade. It was rumored to be the final, perfect model of humanity. There was no skin tone, it wasn't white, black, Hispanic, Asian—it was a new color, and recent modifications made the skin glitter like the night sky. Like a thin layer of diamond dust over neutral gray skin. The model had perfect vision, a lifespan immune to disease (but would die, thousands of years after their poor neighbors below did), was tall and slender and strong. And they all looked identical. Men and women, thousands of them, choosing their children to take the Model #230 and twenty years later you've got thousands of people in the upper class that look identical, because it was fashionable and that's how they wanted it.

Boring, I say. I had an upper class man come in, mistakenly, a few weeks ago. I'll admit he was attractive, his skin looked perfect but there was something unnerving about the color of his skin. Something akin to horror stories of old, something not quite alive. Very cold. And he came with all the bells and whistles: his mood was chemically regulated by the government; I could see the dark lines beneath his skin where anti-depressants were monitored and administered based on his stress and depression levels. He couldn't feel a thing. They couldn't fix his sense of direction, however, and I pointed him down to the next Section where he had originally wanted to go.

National Novel Writing Month 2014

National Novel Writing Month, abbreviated as NaNoWriMo, is a month long literary gauntlet to write a novel in 30 days. The specific number of words to write is 50,000 over the course of 30 days, which is an average of 1,667 words per day if you write every day of the month. I do not. In fact, I'm usually off to a slow start, freeze up in panic about the middle of the month, and race to the finish line. Almost every time. That's just my style, and my own personal writing problem. Everyone can write a novel in 30 days. That means you. I could tell you, but I'm better with visuals. So I've included a gallery of the past 3 years of NaNoWriMo and one side project from CampNaNoWriMo--a smaller version of National Novel Writing Month where I set my goal at 25,000 words in 30 days. You can see for yourself what it took me to write a novel over the past 3 years, and I'll tell you a little about my story this year.

For 2014 I've set a goal of 50,000 words in what was meant to be a Young Adult, comedy adventure. I went to my local midnight Kick Off party (local chapters of the NaNoWriMo groups get together to begin the month in-person or online), and I started writing.

And immediately didn't like it. This is not unusual for me. I went home that night and I didn't even save my document. I had a good start, probably close to 1,000 words. All gone.

And then I waited. November 2nd rolled around, then November 3rd. It took me 3 cups of coffee until I finally started to formulate another version of my NaNoWriMo masterpiece.

I outline lightly; no detailed bulletins, no character descriptions, nothing that organized. In fact, I usually only keep snippets of dialogue to guide me. This was the first scene that I wrote on November 3rd that helped me layout some of the goofiness of the upcoming story:

“That's a dragon!”

“That's a pizza!”

Suzi blinked and arched a skeptical eyebrow. It wasn't that skeptical, the dragon was sitting right there in the freezer with his tail stuck in the door. But still.

“Who calls a dragon a pizza? We eat pizzas.”

“You eat those things? You must be a land of brave warriors, indeed.” The strange boy bowed, the feathers on his helmet brushed the ground and were covered in marinara sauce.

“No, we don't eat... dragons. We eat pizzas. That--” Suzi pointed to the freezer door, which was now starting to shake as the dragon tried to remove his tail. “is a dragon.”

“There are no such things as dragons.”

My loose premise originally was a girl (now a first year college student in my updated version) was working at her part-time job making pizzas, and she ran out of ingredients. She searched the store, entered the "do not enter under any circumstances" bosses office, and found something that looked convincingly like oregano. It turned out to be alchemical components (her bitch of a boss was actually a witch of a boss), and when she threw it down on the pizza in such a way--BOOM--portal to another world. And then a Prince fell out. And then a dragon that looked suspiciously like pizza.

At least, that's the loose plan. I haven't written that far yet.

My point is that anyone can write a novel and it can be anything. I choose to keep mine light, fluffy, a little flirty and adventurous because that's why I like to write. I know people who write short stories (you could write 500 short stories of 1,000 words each, for example); poems, sequels to their existing novels (I did that for NaNoWriMo 2013 and finished the first draft to The Trials of Blood!).

You can even be a #NaNoRebel and write on different projects at once. Technically, I could even include this blog post towards my word count! As long as you are writing, in November, it counts.

You've probably got a better idea that I do at the moment for a novel. So here is where you start:

1. Go to the official National Novel Writing Month website: www.nanowrimo.org

2. Sign up! Choose a Home Region (this will lump you in with the rest of your local writers)

3. Fill out your Novel Information!

4. START WRITING, since you're already behind! Update your word count on the website.

5. WIN.

We can be writing buddies, we can help cheer each other on: http://nanowrimo.org/participants/blood_gate_key/

The trick to winning NaNoWriMo is staying focused, not letting yourself get distracted (this blog post is a distraction for me!), being encouraged by friends and family, and NEVER GIVING UP. Deadlines make magic happen. Let it loom over you, let it scare you, then beat the crap out of it. Or trip it and run away, but make sure you run towards the finish line and not away. Easy mistake to do in the dark.

Not sure you can jump in this year? The creator of National Novel Writing Month has a book: No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty. This is the updated and revised version and it runs for about $12 on Amazon (yes, that's my affiliate link you're clicking right there).  It's an excellent introduction to the history of NaNoWriMo and it is full of tips and tricks to set up your writing area and to re-arrange your life for 30 creative days.

Do you have specific tips and tricks you'd like to share about how you NaNo? Send them in! I'll happily feature them on this post.

[contact-form][contact-field label='Name' type='name' required='1'/][contact-field label='Email' type='email' required='1'/][contact-field label='Website' type='url'/][contact-field label='Your NaNoWriMo tip' type='textarea' required='1'/][/contact-form]

My personal pre-National Novel Writing Month trick is to make book covers or teaser posters. Nothing makes me more excited than making something visual. Even if it's silly:

pizzamancer-poster

 

How to make and keep writing goals

I want to show you how I make and keep my writing goals. Deadlines often mean the difference between finishing a project and giving up on a project for me: and I wouldn't wish that fate upon any writer. With National Novel Writing Month approaching in November -- I really wanted to bring my current dark fantasy novel up to 60,000 words. I started off by customizing a calendar to give me a clear set of goals and a sense of urgency. writing-calendar

My goal is ~17,000 words in October, and I've tracked my progress daily. My initial progress is usually slow, but I do my best work under severe pressure.

So far, I've reached 3,753 words of my 17,000 word goal. That means I only have ~12,000 words left to do, and that is 100% manageable. For me, personally, the trick to writing is to keep a schedule. I'm not saying the words will always be there when you need them (see day 11!), because they most certainly will not be, but taking your goal small steps at a time works.  After having a full day off, I came back to write 2,000+ words in one day. You know who else writes 2,000+ words every day? Mr. Stephen King himself. So I count that as a great success.

The above calendar has been modified, but you can download the original for October here. Or perhaps you can download one for November and start thinking about your National Novel Writing Month plans...

I also have writer friends who can't look at the numbers. "Never tell me the odds," as a certain roguish hero once said. If he was a writer, he wouldn't be able to use a calendar. In that case, I'd recommend turning to your writing friends and asking them to keep you on track. You'd be surprised how much a little encouragement makes all the difference when we're knee-deep in an avalanche of words.

I know it sounds simple, "Print a calendar. Write on it. Then write." Well, yes. I like that looming deadline, and I like tangible progress. I get instant gratification by showing my words--big or small--staring back at me. That doesn't work for everyone, but it works for me.

Are there any of my readers out there who are struggling to make writing goals? Do you have a specific set of goals you set each month, or week, or day? Any tips or tactics to trick yourself in to being productive? Share them in the comments!