How Nanowrimo’s going…

I was hoping to write something each week here about how my Nanowrimo project is progressing.

I’m a few days past the end of the first week, and I apologize if this is rather stream of consciousness, but although the project is moving along at the correct pace, I have also been doing a lot of thinking about it.

To review, I am ostensibly working on a collection of connected short stories related to the novella I recently finished.

The novella is about people who harvest uranium snowflakes from the interiors of white dwarf stars and live in a Dyson sphere-like structure.

This current Nanowrimo project is about the people who built that structure and the stories are all set well before the events in the novella.

While I have been saying it’s a collection of short stories, I am starting to wonder about that.

I began November with 15 very short story outlines/beginnings/proto-stories (around 750 words each), with the intention of expanding each to 2000 words to begin with (so that would cover November 1-15).

I am on track with that. Today is the 11th and I finished the 11th one today.

For the other 15 days of the month, I was planning on going back to each of the now-2000 word stories and editing them. Not necessarily editing to completion, but definitely getting them in better shape.


The more I write, the more I see what I am doing as not so much a series of discrete though connected stories, but rather, as scenes from a novel or even a series. (There is a lot going on and these people are all-but-immortal.)

Or maybe it isn’t that, either.

Perhaps it is more like a series of encyclopedia entries about the all-but-immortal people or a selection of different documents from the construction of the Dyson sphere. Maybe it is both of those and they are different stories!

I want to explore all the many facets of this world that I’ve imagined and this all amounts to how to best accomplish that.

I am definitely interested in using different forms to explore narrative and this specific context seems like a good one to do that within. I had been thinking of this with regards to the novella (which does a few excerpts from documents in it), but it didn’t seem the right match.

But then, there is also the question of what story exactly am I trying to tell? Because the more I think of all these different things, the more they seem to split off into many possibilities.


That’s a long way of saying that I’m not going to be editing these stories after the 15th

I’ve decided that, instead, I am going to go through the 15 stories and extract the worldbuilding details and collect them into encyclopedia-ish entries. As I’ve written, I’ve thrown in off the cuff remarks that, at times, are not consistent with other elements. So, at the very least, I need to clean those up and figure out what the canon interpretation should be.

There are also some areas and themes that I’ve noted as I’ve worked that I haven’t fully explored. So, if I have time, I will work on developing those, too (not as stories, but as more of those entries on specific topics).

So that’s where I am.

Take care.

October wrap up and what comes next

I put off this week’s blog for a few days so it would be an end-of-month (not just end-of-week) post. (Procrastinating? Very possibly!)

So! To review my plans for October:

To finish and submit the novella I was working on.

I did that in the first week of the month!

Complete two stories and submit two stories (not necessarily the same two!).

So, in addition to the novella, I submitted one very short piece and one very long piece (another novella I finished last spring).

I didn’t complete two stories, though I did get one finished (that I did then submit).

Specific stories:
  • Incorporate comments from workshop along with general notes from class
  • Finish by end of month

It’s not finished, but I am very happy with how it is progressing, so it not being done isn’t a problem or any kind of fail. It will only be better for the further work.

A large part of the reason why it is taking longer than I anticipated is that, once I incorporated the comments from workshop, the story got a lot longer (like 5000 words to just over 9000). 

That very large jump was a bit of a surprise, as I wasn’t paying attention to the word count as I added items (sensory details, a few scenes to provide better context). Oops.

And a longer story means it takes longer to get through each edit of the full thing and it also, in this case certainly, means that I need to think about how to get it back down. A short story is up to 7500 words and I really want this to get there (ideally, I’d prefer around 6000 words, but that doesn’t seem very likely).

I do have a bit more research to do (another oops), so I will be adding a bit more to two scenes near the end, but once I have that done, I’ll work on tightening the whole thing up.

There’s still laundry/Mondays are for laundry
  • Tidy up and submit for critique week

I worked on this, submitted it for critique week, renamed it (Mondays are for laundry), worked on the comments and suggestions from the critique session (which were, as always, incredibly helpful) and managed to send it out by the end of this week.

This is the opposite situation from Dispersed. It is such a short story (~1300 words) that going through it in its entirety took very little time. I made changes, thought about them, changed some more things, read it out loud several times, etc. And it still only took a few days to polish.

I need to write more stories with this sort of word count 🙂

If you give a clock an enchantment

There was the opportunity to submit a second story for workshopping, so I did. The comments and suggestions I received on this were very helpful. I like this story a lot, but I really needed other eyes on it to give me suggestions (I had previously submitted this to critique week in spring and used those suggestions, too, so it was better, but still bothering me in a few ways).

The more I work on this, and based on some of the feedback I received, I think this might be part of a longer piece, rather than the short story I was aiming for. I’ll return to this once Dispersed is done. 

Generation Pothos
  • Finish by end of month

With what I’ve been working on, I didn’t have the time to devote to this. I have some fragments written and some ideas, but I still am largely in the thinking about stage.

November and Nanowrimo

My plan for November is to prioritize the Nanowrimo stories I’m working on and supplement that with work on Dispersed (when I have larger chunks of time). If Dispersed gets finished, I’ll move on to If you give a clock an enchantment. 

And I wrote a blog post a week, as planned! I want to continue with the regular posts, so for November I’ll post weekly on my Nanowrimo (and any other) progress. Since the month starts on a Monday, I’ll post on Mondays, beginning on the 8th


I finished the class I was taking. It was really helpful and I’m going to be going over my notes, as there is a lot to think about, particularly regarding my process.

The slush reading I’ve been doing is winding down for this submission period, but I have a couple of other writing-adjacent volunteer things right now (checking transcripts from a con for accuracy and formatting a newsletter), both of which are nicely technical.

That’s all for now. Take care.

This week’s work

I’ve given up on Thursdays as a good day to write and post to the blog. It doesn’t work with other things I have going on at all. The weekend is better, so I’m going to shift to Saturdays (earlier if I can manage).

This week I had a couple of stories to tidy up before letting other people read them, one for a critique group through Story A Day and one for the short story class (that is almost finished). Both these stories are a little different from what I usually write, so we’ll see what people think.

Of course, that also meant I had stories from other people to look at and comment on, which is such a useful exercise. I know it’s a bit clichéd, but you really do see your own problems reflected so much more clearly in other people’s work.

It has also been interesting to do the critiquing/workshoping at the same time as doing slush reading, because they are so similar yet utterly different. 

The critique process is all about providing constructive suggestions to a work that is still *in process* so that the writer can make their work stronger *as they finish it*, whereas slush reading is looking at the finished product and deciding on whether it works (for the market, etc). Of course, it is all subjective, but doing the slush reading has made me think about my own work differently. Are my initial paragraphs super compelling? Do they telegraph what is to come in the story? Am I establishing a world and characters quickly? First impressions really colour how you read the rest of the story.

I also did more work on my not-very-short story “Dispersed” this week, which is really coming along. Last week, I resolved all the current comments I had on it and started to incorporate further sensory details and fussed with language usage and stuff like that. In other words, it’s almost finished. Hopefully, I’ll get it done and submitted by the end of the month.

It does take time, and more so with longer work, but that’s probably not a bad thing.

I’ve been re-watching Babylon 5 (currently half-way through season 3) and I want to write about it (since I have some thoughts), but I haven’t sorted out in my own mind yet how I want to frame it. I don’t know how many times I’ve watched it (although I remember an awful lot of actual, verbatim dialogue), but it’s been a while.

Regardless, it holds up remarkably well for a series from the mid-90s (although the very noticeable lipstick on the female characters is somewhat distracting). I’ve long been interested in what science fiction says about the time period in which it is written and SF television shows offer such a rich opportunity for  considering that. What we can imagine for the future is both confined and defined by our current circumstances and experiences (not to mention the budget of a weekly series) in ways that we can only really appreciate in retrospect.

Anyway, that’s all for this week. Take care.