On NanoWriMo


For the uninitiated, NanoWriMo is a yearly collaboration for creatives, traditionally pressed with the daunting quest of completing a 50000 word novel in the span of a single month. During the month, I conceptualized, outlined, and completed the task by November 30, creating a story that I like to refer to as a conceptual liminal horror. 

The plot beat I constructed days prior to the event was an exploration of hologram theory. The idea suggests that the reality in which we live is a digital creation, a projection of information against a cosmic void in the same vein as transparent plastic paper was to classroom projectors back in the day (do they still use those? Am I carbon-dating myself?). 

I started with a singular character, a shameless exaggeration of myself as a college student; a reclusive, aloof individual more concerned with their aspirational body of work than human interaction (look, I’m working on being more sociable, okay? Give me a break; I’m an ancient reptilian). Over the span of 50000 words, I explored the potential reality of the world as a simulation within the trappings of a small town discarded by the rest of the country. 

Expectation: The pressure would consolidate into diamonds, having been forced into producing a finished ‘masterpiece’ within the span of 30 days.
Reality: Hoo boy. Well, it certainly is written. 

What I learned most from the exercise, which was one part fevered desperation and one part desperate time management, is that writing a novel in any span of time is an undertaking. I’m no stranger to novel writing (if I could show you the Frankenstein’s mess that is my digital draft book, no doubt most of you would have me committed), but doing so within a solitary month was one of the, if not, the most insane thing I’ve ever done (that includes the time I had someone jump on me off a ladder for a wrestling spot, but that’s a story for a different day). 

Within this hellacious four week span, I ignored my better instincts and wrote by the seat of my custom pants (it’s hard finding pants that include a hole for a tail, let me tell you), ignoring any semblance of sense or good grammatical decency. For two hours every day, I smashed letters into a word document and shelved the contents once the predefined word count was achieved. 

That was when the nightmare started. Sure, I got my shiny badge from nanowrimo.org after logging my total word count at the end of the marathon, but little did I know that what I submitted for the contest was an incoherent mess of disparate scenes and characters with the tonality of a broken CD player (again, do people still know what this is? Should I just get in the amber now and wait to be fossilized?).

When December 1 rolled up, I opened the finished document and boy, was I surprised. There were plot threads that went nowhere, characters that evaporated like dried milk in the sun, and a long winding conclusion that might as well read like a serial killer’s manifesto written for a social media dating website.

I was stunned. This wasn’t the book I’d written, I thought. Surely, the lucid dream that I’d endured for the past month generated something far better than this. I closed the document and re-opened it. Nope; it was still the same piece. I shook my head. What on earth was this? This is the part where people expect to see some sort of grand revelation, that everything turned out alright in the end, or that somehow this stream of consciousness soup turned into a New York Times’ bestseller, but this isn’t the case. This is my current reality; one that has no clear path to resolution. 

All in all, NanoWriMo has taught me that just because you can write a novel in thirty days, doesn’t mean that it’s written. Maybe there are some freaks out there, virtuosos that pull masterpieces from the ether like some modern day Oracle of Delphi that write down the whispered secrets of the universe into masterful prose. I sure as Hell ain’t one of them. The good news is that the framework is done, if you call a framework created out of non-Euclidian ranting a foundation. I know I do. 

The main takeaway is this; you can’t edit something that doesn’t exist. If you have no clay, you can’t create a sculpture, can you? It’s better to have something that exists that you can mold into a vision rather than a grand nebulous concept that lives rent-free in your head. Real art is about creating something out of what already exists, even if that something is little more than a dodgy warped figure with doughy arms and a dilapidated face. 

Render should be out by next year because I’m a lunatic. I hope you all stick around for the madness to come. 

Ad Maiorem Gloriam Crocodili,



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