If you’ve haven’t kept up with my cblogs over the past month, I’ve attempted this year’s National Novel Writing Month challenge, and I promised to do a reflection on the results of that challenge afterwards. Here we are, one month later, and… well, I’m happy with what I’ve done, but I think what I expected it to be was quite far off the mark from what I anticipated it would be.
As promised, here’s a link to the complete compilation of my story from the month. I didn’t mention mention it on the community blogs, but the protagonist, Felsac, is actually an OC whose design I commissioned about a year ago. I’ve always wanted to introduce him with an excerpt similar to what I for this challenge, so it’s satisfying to finally get off my butt and write that…!
As far as where I wish I had written things differently, there’s not too much else to add here other than what I summarized in a previous blog. In a nutshell, I got off to a bad start by trying to rush my plot forward. Instead of speeding up my word count, I just took longer to find ways to make the plot progress faster, at the expense of establishing my characters and scenes and what should make them interesting to read. For the first couple of chapters I wrote for this project, I was less proud of them than I was of that short story I invented on a whim in less than a week two years ago.
From that, I learned a valuable lesson about the pace I like to work at and my style of writing. I revisited some plot points I was drafting and added more meat to the first chapter to string things together in a way I’m much happier with, and from there I started to feel a lot more optimistic about this project. I also still have a lot to learn about pacing, my narration, and the ways I provide exposition to readers without dumping it all on, but I feel I’m getting there one step at a time.
Unfortunately, at around the same time, I developed medical issues that quickly complicated my ability to work on this, and I became much more concerned with the realistic probability of needing surgery than continuing my project. Thankfully, it turned out to be a much less severe issue than we originally thought, and as my medicine proved to actually cure the issue instead of merely reducing its symptoms, we realized we overestimated the issue and surgery was unnecessary. I finished my prescription meds weeks ago and I'm still feeling normal, so that should be all taken care of!
I was back on my feet sooner than I expected, but even after I didn’t make much progress. I had expected to get five chapters done at bare minimum, probably seven, hence the teaser of “things to come” at the end of chapter 2. Yet I only went as far as chapter 3. At the very least, I’m glad I revised chapter 1 to introduce more elements to better segue into the scenes I built in chapter 3, as that turned what I felt was an important-yet-unimpactful scene to something that feels at least a bit more meaningful and character-driven. At least, that makes me happy with what I accomplished this NaNoWriMo.
And this is where the reflection gets more personal than about my progression as a writer. I procrastinated much more than I expected myself to, but I knew from the start that I wouldn’t hit NaNoWriMo’s traditional 50K word goal. And that’s okay, because I simply wanted to use this project to usher me on to write more than I have been. And I did! I finally started the story of a character I’ve been cooking in my imagination for over a year! It’s far from the whole story I want to tell, but I finally got a starting point!
I’m not going to be harsh on myself for accomplishing something, even if that something isn’t as much as I expected or wanted it to be. But still, my expectations of my work ethic were far off the mark. And I want to reflect on that in particular. I don’t like making promises only to not commit to them.
One part of it is probably just trying to find a new work-life balance -- I gotta admit I still feel new to the whole 40-hour-job thing, even if I think I’ve adjusted pretty well to the actual work. But more than that, I’ve yet to fully commit to a story or series of stories I want to focus on as my passion project (or projects). I’m indecisive between writing about my “main” shonen-flavored kaijufolk universe, new stories in new worlds on a smaller yet still notable scale, one-shot side stories in their own universes, one-offs in settings I’ve already established, and so on.
Not only that, I’m unsure what medium I want to develop in most. Part of me wants to branch out into visual novels with Ren’Py so I can flex some of my coding skills and commission enough assets to weave together a truly beautiful project that combines my high concepts with some of the many artists I always want to hype up to the high heavens. Part of me wants to develop a tabletop game of some sort to get on the gamier side of things without making my programming muscles TOO sore after a standard work day. Part of me wants to stick purely to the written word like I’ve been doing so far because that’s a lot cheaper and I don’t want to risk dumping a lot of money into assets for a project in a field that I have literally no experience in and-
Well, you get the idea. I don’t have focus. I’ve done a lot of tiny work on a dozen, maybe two-dozen ideas, some of which I’ll probably never pick up again, some of which I will return to later, and several more will probably be added to that pile in the future. That’s fine for having fun as a hobbyist, which honestly is the goal I think about most with these projects. It’d be awesome to be a full-time passion project creator, I’d love to make that dream come true, but that kind of work has never come with the income security that I value so much more right now in my life.
At the same time, I don’t think I need to be a full-time author or game designer to make one of the awesome end-game products I want to make. It will probably take me years to do so, but that challenge sounds truly exciting to me. I just don’t know exactly what kind of passion project I want to spend literal years of my free time working on. Not yet, at least.
I think right now I want to put less effort on developing ambitious projects and more effort on experimenting with smaller ideas to find THE ambitious project. I did talk about something similar in the quickposts a while ago, to which BNix recommended doing more one-offs, and I said “Yeah, I should” but then I did NaNoWriMo instead. Consider this my public announcement of “Yeah, I will shift gears towards one-offs”. I might even do some blogs less about fiction excerpts and more about sharing high concepts that I’m having fun toying with and designing for visual novels or board games or whatever else I might tinker with, who knows?
I also want to continue Felsac’s story! Consider that an ongoing project I’ll update infrequently. I’ve barely begun setting up the building blocks, it’d be a shame to just leave them as they are. But our buff butterfly friend could use a little break for the aforementioned reasons.
He’ll be back. Cedi always brings back the bugs. They are coming. We are coming. And we will be your friends… unless you call me a mean name in the comments. Then we will all suplex you simultaneously. It’s a very over-the-top suplex.
So yeah, thanks for reading the blogs!