Another week of Nanowrimo (& more)

This week, I thought I would write not just about Nanowrimo, but what I’ve been doing more generally writing-wise as well, mostly because my Nano project is coming along as planned.

Last week, on Friday, I attended a really interesting panel, Imagined (Lunar) Communities: Hope, Habitation, and Humanity, moderated by Smaran Dayal with Manish Melwani, Malka Older, and Fabio Fernandes. The structure was particularly notable, the panelists had received a prompt and each wrote a short piece about an imagined lunar habitat that they read. Then the discussion that followed incorporated aspects of what they had written, how they had approached the subject, etc. (A more detailed description is avialable on the Eventbrite page (, click details.)

Throughout the week I worked more on my “maybe it’s a long short story/maybe it’s a short novellette”, Dispersed. The word count has been bouncing around between about 7200 and 8000 as I work on it. But I’ve also addressed what I (and others in workshop) had identified as problem areas. In particular, there were a few weak spots nagging at me that required more explanation, a few new scenes, a change of gender for one character, and one whole new character.

I’m pleased with how it is progressing. I’m hopeful I’ll have it ready for submission in mid-December.

Nanowrimo-wise, I completed the outlines for the four novellas (or novel parts or whatever they are). They came together widly easily, I think because of all the previous work I’ve done on this world.

I also did some worldbuilding/brainstorming on various areas: general and some more specific thoughts on characters (including issues around who leaves Earth on the ship), what Earth is like at the beginning of the story, day to day life on the ship, and ideas around colonization/exploration/adventure in the context of the story world.

Additionally, I reviewed the stories I was working on earlier in the month and extracted those story ideas that might work as stories separate from this story world/universe/whatever we might call it.

And I also started putting together a review of what I’ve done writing-wise in the past year and plans for next year. I’ll post those here in the next couple of weeks.

What I’m reading, listening to, and watching

I’ve been watching The Handmaid’s Tale (finally). It has been a long time since I read the book, but I’m enjoying the series quite a lot. I like that so many of the characters are given solid backstories in the form of flashbacks.  

And I do appreciate watching something that already has several seasons (looking at you, Squid Game, with your nine measly episodes).

I’m reading Jeff VanderMeer’s Hummingbird Salamander very slowly, but it is really interesting and the writing is just so wonderful. (The slowness is totally on me and general tiredness.)

And I started listening to the audiobook of Kim Stanley Robinson’s latest book, The Ministry of the Future, after hearing multiple people (in different contexts) recommend Kim Stanley Robinson in the last week. I have read some of Robinson’s past work (like the Mars trilogy), but it’s been a while. I enjoy the broad scope approach that Robinson takes (different points of view in different locations; lots of ‘this is how the world is’ explanation). It wouldn’t work in all cases, but it really grounds the story in a very relatable world. 

That’s all for now.

Nanowrimo 2021, week 2-ish

Let’s review where I was last time I posted…

I had decided that most of the stories I was working on for my Nano-rebel project wouldn’t work as standalones (there are some that will, but more on that later).

And the more I thought about my idea for extracting material for encyclopedia-type entries (and began working on it), the more I was unsatisfied with it. It isn’t that I don’t want to do it (or won’t necessarily), but it felt insufficient to what I was trying to do with the ideas that I had.

But this past week, I finished expanding the 15 little stories I was working on, which involved a lot of worldbuilding and stream of consciousness writing that generated a lot of random ideas. So they total over 30 000 words now.

I also did a couple of days of narrative-less writing on a couple of elements of the universe/whatever it is and one day re-planning everything once that was all done.

(As an aside, this is why I find being a Nano rebel tricky. Give me 1667 words a day and I can do that. I have done it a bunch ot times. But having to constantly fiddle with the plan is something else entirely.

Because it isn’t just about changing what I’m doing — that happens all the time in my writing — but it is also figuring out how to track what I’m doing in a Nano-friendly way.)

As I worked on the 15 proto-story ideas, I was struck by a few things.

One was that, in part because they were spaced out over a really (really) long time period and also because there was a lot of big picture worldbuilding, there was way too much telling.

Additionally, the stories themselves, although they showed little snippets of daily life, weren’t driven by much of a narrative.  Again, the details contributed more to worldbuilding than anything else. There wasn’t much in the way of tension or conflict, however defined.

As if that weren’t enough, the stories didn’t really hang together well, either. There were too few characters (most of them focused on the same two characters, with two others in some of the stories) and, again because of the very long time period covered, there were a lot of gaps and questionable timelines.

So. New idea! (Which is kind of bonkers, given that I keep saying I want to write more, shorter work…)

I think it makes more sense to group the ideas and themes into four novellas (not really long ones, all in the 20 000 word range).

Each book/novella/whatever will reveal a little bit more about the world than the previous book did. Each one opens things up a little more and provides more background, which addresses issues that were raised in the previous book, but also ends up raising further issues that are addressed in the next book.

And, yeah, also they go backwards in time, sort of. The first one is the novella I have already finished and is out looking for a home. Then, book 2 ends before the beginning of book 1 and book 3 ends right before the beginning of book 2 and so on.

So in each book you think you understand the people who are in it (particularly in a collective sense), but then in the next book you pull back one step further back into the past and realize you do not (or at least, not entirely), and this repeats.

This may or may not make sense to anyone but me right now. Hopefully, it will make sense to others once they’re done.

My plan for the rest of the month is to outline those four novellas (because why not) and do further worldbuilding. I have rough outlines of two of the four done already. I’ve spent so much time thinking about this world that once I started considering things it in this way, a lot came together rather quickly.

And the one other thing I’ll do is go through the stories I have to extract ideas that would work as standalone stories completely separate from this project. I noted a couple as I was working on them, ideas that are good but won’t fit well with my new plan.

So that’s all for now. I’ll also need to figure out a plan for writing these things, but that’s for December.

Take care.

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.