NaNoWriMo 2015

NaNo2015 ParticipantGoodness me, it seems like an awfully long time since I was last blathering up the blogosphere. What’s that? “That’s because it has been an awfully long time?” Yeah, well, try not to sound too pleased about it, because I’m back to befoul the cyberwaves again. You lucky, lucky people!

So why have I come back? Well, partly because WordPress renewed my domain name and it would be a shame to see $26 go to waste, and partly because there’s another NaNoWriMo on the way!

Now, if at this point you are wondering what the hell a NaNoWriMo is when it’s at home, then seek ye the National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo sees lots of people hunker down over their laptops and writing pads during the month of November, all feverishly trying to squeeze 50,000 words of a novel onto the empty page before the end of the month. That weighs in at just under 1,700 words every day, which is chickenfeed to seasoned pros like Alexander McCall Smith, who can push out 1,000 words in an hour, but often proves a little trickier for most mere mortals.

Now, your least humble servant, Mr Poll, here, did alright in the 2012 and 2013 NaNos, scoring just over 50,000 words in them both. (I was on hols for 2014’s NaNo.) 2012’s NaNo yielded my sci-fi horror novel, “The Floors”, which you can still see shamelessly plastered all over this blog. 2013’s NaNo brought about a solid chunk of a novel called “The Forum of the Dead”, which I then took around the back of the house and shot so as not to distress the kids.

Looking back, there was a big difference between my first and second attempts at NaNoWriMo. Back in 2012, the whole concept of “The Floors” was like some all-consuming forest fire sweeping through my mind. A maze of thirteenth floors? Bam! The idea had taken root, and it was more or less all my brain could think about until the book was finished, redrafted, edited, redrafted and put out there to buy. Sometimes, when that happens, the only thing I can do is to go along with it and try to enjoy the ride.

“The Forum of the Dead” was where things started to go a bit wonky. It started off as another simple idea: someone comes into possession of a laptop with a corrupt bookmark that, when clicked on, takes them to a web forum used by the dead. The whole thing was going to cover witchcraft and possession and the strange and valuable things squirrelled away in people’s attics, but by the end of 50,000 words I had barely scratched the surface of the story and, alarmingly, elements of it were beginning to resemble L. Ron Hubbard’s first draft for that whole Scientology thing.

Scrapping all of the effort that went into those 50,000 words – research included – wasn’t exactly a great confidence booster. Far from it. Since then, I’ve barely been able to finish anything fun and creative, which isn’t exactly spiffy.

So why am I going to put myself through all of that again? Several reasons. First and foremost, I need to get back into the writing habit again, otherwise what’s the point of this whole Lucian Poll thing? (Let me stop you there before you start.) I’ve had a story rattling around my head since “The Forum of the Dead” that I wouldn’t mind getting onto paper so I can go around thinking about some other things. I also hope that by getting back into the writing groove again I’ll start to enjoy my reading a little more. (It may just be that I’ve hit upon a string of duds on my bookshelves.) Last, but my no means least, I’m also keen to see who of my 2012 and 2013 writing buddies are taking part in this year’s event. If NaNoWriMo makes me dip more than the occasional toe into the murky waters of social media then maybe that would be a good thing too.

As for this year’s novel, it’s tentatively called “Year Zero” and, contrary to the zombie-esque title, will be a straight science fiction yarn. You may therefore see a… ah… rebranding going on here over the coming however-long. 😉 I feel I have a stronger grip on “Year Zero” than I did “The Forum of the Dead”, but it’s not burning a hole in my brain a la “The Floors”. I also reckon, should I win, 50,000 words won’t get me a huge way through the story, but I’m fairly comfortable with that. Science fiction and fantasy are a tad more forgiving of long stories than most other genres.

So, crises of confidence and life aside, you should find me at this year’s Norwich NaNo launch this coming Hallowe’en, where I’ll listen to the splendid story ideas of my fellow WriMos before stammering and blurting out mine.

If I get to the end of “Year Zero” then, with a bit of luck, I’ll have a story that fits this here blurb:

Welcome to Newich, a most unusual city.

In a strange and shapeless world, and surrounded by Erdd’s warm, blue-green oceans, there stands the makeshift metropolis of Newich, a four-hundred square mile patchwork quilt of a city. Except there’s a problem. Newich simply should not exist. Everything about the city is wrong, from its corrupted streets to its fused buildings, from its stuttering politics to its ten million lost and lonely inhabitants. But then the same could be said of Erdd itself, and the universe around it. Why else would the night skies blaze with the light of a billion, trillion stars?

No, something has gone very badly awry, something that has placed all existence on a knife-edge, and the root of it all lies somewhere in Newich. Inquisitor Eleda Paraczek is determined to unearth the truth, whatever the cost.

All she needs is the right confession.

Well, it’s early days.

In the meantime, keep your eye on the word count shown at the top of the sidebar, and be sure to crack the whip if you see me slacking. Especially given Fallout 4’s imminent release. (Come on, I’m only human!)


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