Tuesday, 2 May 2017

CampNaNo April Autopsy

Camp NaNoWriMo” is an offshoot of the November “Novel Writing Month”. I thought I’d done my own personal version of it in July 2012, but apparently the only options back then were June or August, so I don’t even know. How random.

Anyway, April is usually the third worst month of the year in terms of emotional trauma and insane work hours, so this is never really on the table. But since I’m not teaching, I decided to give it a whirl here, for 2017.

I saw a message about registering by “Sunday March 26” in order to be slotted into a “Cabin” before the April 1st start. So I did that, even though I was in the midst of doing two “April Fools” updates (serial and webcomic) along with accompanying “Behind the Scenes” posts. Meaning I tossed in “Fantasy Revision” as a title with “60 hours” as a goal (2 per day), and came back to it on April 2nd.


I started by checking out the Cabin, looking over the messages for the week. (Which turned out to be over 80% of the messages for the month.) I commented myself, offering to answer any teaching questions. I also decided that the work for the month would be, in order: (1) Editing “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra”. (2) Writing a T&T short for a Guest Post in May. (3) Getting some new TANDQ and other statistical columns done. After that, I’d re-evaluate.

Seiko aka Probability
There were three main edits I wanted for “TGWSWA”. First, Seiko’s trait had been insecurity about her abilities, but Rose had a lot of that in her story (and personality) too. And since any escalation for Seiko never really happened, I felt I needed to eliminate the overlap. The solution? Have Seiko be insecure about her choice of major. Give her some fashion sense (considering what happens in Part 29) and make Seiko wonder if she’d be happier in arts, like Rose, instead of math.

Second, the original extension of the Rose and Paige conflict beyond Paige’s backstory needed repair. Heading into the “having sex” angle, things had felt... off. Almost like filler, between the two story climaxes. Wasn’t sure how to fix that yet. Third, I needed to cut down on my use of exclamation marks. That’s one of the main things that stood out for me in the post-NaNo editing session given locally back in December. (I see it in T&T too. In retrospect, I’m not sure why everyone’s always so surprised.)

April 4th was the first day I put time into this. I pulled apart the “TGWSWA” Word document into 32 individual files, since it would help track my editing, plus the individual documents is what I’d want for a serial anyway. I also made a file for the chapter headers. (In the end, I think I only changed one name. Also never moved around any of the math concepts, which I’d wondered if maybe I should.) That took an hour.

Sunday April 9th was when I got back to it again, after having posted in my Cabin that I was going to try to actually do at least 6 hours of edits that weekend. Part of the reason for the slow start was because I was starting to do a bunch of sketching for a Character Bible for my Math Webcomic, which I wanted to coincide with Entry #300. Drawing isn’t writing, so I didn’t count those hours.

That weekend, I realized pretty quickly that every Part of “TGWSWA” was going to take an hour to edit (each part being 3,000 words or more), which was more than I’d figured on. Partly due to me not being a fast reader, partly discovering some barely justified logic leaps. (Spelling and grammar errors are pretty rare.)

For instance, Rose trying to pull Sine out of the dreamworld, failing, and suddenly thinking she has to deal with emotional issues. Hmm. Maybe clarify some disappointment and conflicted feelings in a paragraph between those two events?

I continued edits into April 10th to get past my 6 hours. Then I did some work April 12th, getting me to Entry 12. And that was it until April 20th, because most of the 13th through the 18th was compiling my Webcomic Bible. I did end up doing 12 hours of writing in conjunction with that, but it wasn’t edits, nor was it really new material - it was summarizing lots of previous math serial work. So I didn’t count it.


One has the option to change one’s goal up until Day 19. I saw that, but decided to stick with what I had on that day (10 hrs of 60 hrs) despite it being nearly impossible to achieve my (arbitrary) goal. Because frankly, failing felt like a thing I needed to do. Largely to get a “fail” out of the way, removing pressure for the future, but there was also how I went into this pretty unprepared.

Paige aka Calculus
Thursday April 20th through to the 22nd I got through an additional 9 hours of work, bringing me up to Entry 24 of “TGWSWA”. (So not quite an hour each part.) More work was done on the 23rd, then not from the 24th through the 26th... unless you count T&T edits for RRL, parts 40 through 48, which I didn’t. Aside from removing tabs, splitting parts into “A and B”, and removing exclamation marks, there’s not a lot going on there. Though I guess it was partly to put me in the mood for the second planned effort.

April 27th (my birthday) I dove back into “TGWSWA”, but not from Entry 27, rather back to Entry 1 and doing adjustments from the start. I wanted to see if my Seiko adjustments and “sex” fix (giving Rose insecurities along with Paige) worked in context. That work bled into April 28th, which was when I *finally* cast an eye towards the T&T Guest Post. I made a file of Carrie’s powers.

There had been a number of ideas tumbling through my head for that writing. Everything from doing something with Carrie preventing an explosion after T&T Book 4 by temporally doubling an artifact Chartreuse received (tentatively titled “Minute Waltz”), to having something else happen during early training sessions before Book 3 (the time when I’d written Jim’s Guest Post last summer). A final idea didn’t crystallize until Saturday April 29th, which was when I finally did some writing there.

I nearly went to a local write in on Day 29, but decided I was doing okay with self motivation by this point, plus I’d have to get dressed. By the end of that day (with one day left), I’d completed “TGWSWA” edits to the end, and spent about 4 hours on the T&T Post, for a total of 36 hours. (CampNaNo gave me the amusing message that I had 24 hours remaining of my 60, and thus only needed a daily average of 24 hours going forwards. Not likely to happen.)

On Day 30, I spent five hours doing a third run-through of “TGWSWA”. I had in mind to see if the past tense writing by Rose was consistent, but it sort of degenerated into a 'yay reading' kind of deal, with more minor adjustments. I also spent two hours in the late evening finishing the T&T short story (about 3,000 words total), logging my last hours at 11:59pm. 43 total hours completed.

On Monday, May 1st, I spent another couple hours doing edits on that T&T effort. May 2nd is when I drew the pictures to go with this post. Obviously, none of the other writing got done.


I’d say it’s good that I did this, because otherwise “The Girl Who Speaks With Algebra” would likely still be sitting in it’s archive. Also, I got to see what an actual CampNaNoWriMo was like. Other things I learned?

Rosemary aka Algebra
Well, that editing takes longer than I might have anticipated. Related, two hours per day is actually a heck of a lot more time than it might seem to be, particularly after falling behind early. (And if it takes me 5 hours to write 3,000 words, a real NaNoWriMo seems increasingly unfeasible. It’s nice you can set goals for the Camp by time.) There’s also the fact that I’m pretty pedantic about what I count for these sorts of things. I do feel like my writing is good and improving though, lest the takeaways seem a bit negative, and my goodness do I love Rose as a character.

I kind of wish I had participated more, by sending some private messages, maybe doing something in real life, but my focus was definitely split this April. Which probably explains why it’s such a challenge for anyone to do this while working - and why I’ve never done NaNoWriMo prior to being away from teaching. I’m not sure if other Cabins might have had people who were a lot more vocal, mine was fairly silent. But then I am naturally a bit of a recluse.

Incidentally, I got an email from the site saying I might not have “won” but not to get down on myself. Nice sentiment. As I said earlier though, I think I needed this to be a fail. And that's how it all went down.

Does anyone have experiences they’d care to share? Is anyone pulling more revelations from this post than what I mentioned? Feel free to comment and let me know. Thanks for reading.

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