Camp NaNo: or Apparently I Have Some Commitment Issues


The future of London’s Skyline? The inspiration for my London in Sentience, original design by FACTORY FIFTEEN.

I knew this was going to be a bit of a challenge, mostly because although I’d made several attempts over the last few years, I’d never finished a novel. Short stories are my safe zone, little snippets of bigger plots or random disjointed narrative prose that, although hopefully interesting and entertaining, are as easy to pick up as they are to set down once I’m finished.

I was so focused on the word count, that massive number floating around inside my head, I had neglected to consider my biggest obstacle.

A single story.

Not only single, but complete. I’ve never had much of a talent for actually finishing anything. I can end a poem or piece of flash fiction easily enough, sure, but describing an entire story event from the inciting incident right through to the resolution? Uh, not as such.

So week one has come and gone, and like any stumbling newbie I’m playing catch up. Scrivener sets my overall word count at 9,877 words as of ten minutes ago, and I should have broken 11k at this point. I’m perhaps not as worried as I should be, proud of myself for sticking with this still and remaining hopeful that I’ll finish.

I suppose I’m surprised at the fact that even now, as I struggle to update my word counts and keep on top of this blog as well as working full-time, I’m still in love with this story in my head. I just hope the way I’m telling it will do it justice.

I’ve posted a little about it before in another NaNo related blog post, so I won’t outline the story again, instead I offer up a little about my favourite character, Michael Redmond, whose tragic accident begins my story:

Being ignored and lost and labeled a vagrant wasn’t actually as bad as all that, Michael thought. There was cold occasionally, and hunger now and again, but the street walkers of old London were surprisingly well cared for. With dozens of shelters, outreach centres and back door hostels in Zone 1 alone, there was never very far to walk before there was a light to be drawn into. And never a shortage of young impressionable ears to listen and coo with sympathy.

Michael’s story was rather boring, well the truth of it was anyway. He’d learned pretty quickly to embellish here and there; the more tear jerking the tale, the more tea you were offered. He put on an accent now and again. Pretended he was an American once, at the sound of a soft low drawl from the other side of the counter at the outreach behind St. James Park. He’d gotten an extra sandwich out of that one.

There wasn’t much about Before he missed, content to wander without responsibility through the capital, left in peace for the most part. His once short hair had grown to cover his forehead now, dark brown strands curling round his ears. He had been offered a shave at the shelter he favoured more than once, but he rather liked the beard now. He rarely bothered with his reflection, but he felt that coupled with the long, now stained trench coat it rather completed his look…

What do you think? And more importantly how is everyone else handling this challenge? Being part of a cabin and checking updates on Twitter is helping boost my confidence and helping remind me I’m not alone, I hope others are finding the same! Who is your favourite character so far?

4 thoughts on “Camp NaNo: or Apparently I Have Some Commitment Issues

  1. You’re actually pretty much right on track, so don’t beat yourself up too much. I’m literally right at the goal, but this is “behind” for me, because I usually try to stay about 15-20% ahead of the goal and finish early. Not being ahead stresses me out in a particularly unpleasant way. But my story- for all the weeks I spent preparing- is less inspiring for me than I thought it would be. Some of the characters feel flat, and I don’t know enough about them yet to give them dimension.

    BUT! The goal is not to create something awesome but, simply, to finish. Stop wondering if its good and just write. And if it makes you feel better, Michael does sound interesting enough to carry an entire story.


    • Michael isn’t actually my planned main character, but as I’ve written I find I like him more than Kate, the main protagonist. Worrying but kind of exciting at the same time. It’s something to consider in editing though because I guess you’re right. I need to be thinking more about finishing than rethinking everything and second guessing myself!

      I’m just so used to editing and reworking as I write, because my pieces are no more than 5,000 words (often far far less). It’s like retraining all the little habits you’ve picked up over the years. Thanks for your comments as always, I really appreciate the advice! :D


      • Maybe an easier way to look at it then, if you’re more comfortable with short stories, is that a novel is just a series of short stories. And they honestly are…each chapter has a full arc- setup, climax, conclusion- and serves a purpose in the greater scheme. Maybe thinking about it that way might satisfy your inner short story writer.

        Oh, and…if Michael is speaking to you more than Kate, there’s a reason for that. Listen to him :)

        And you’re quite welcome :)


  2. Pingback: Camp NaNo: or A Few Realisations Now the End is Near « The Robotic Hermit

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