A macro shot of a single leaf from the Hoppe Leaf Mountain - November 2009.

Des Informations, des Idées, et des Opinions Suspectes - rarement mises à jour et de qualité douteuse.

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

See you in December

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My name is Estefan and I am the Mexican attache to the United Nations. Not the actual United Nations in New York City mind you, but the United Nations Waffle House in St. Louis, Missouri where we got a nice sausage and waffles special every Monday.

These are possible openings for the novel that I will be writing over the next 30 days as I participate in /www.nanowrimo.org">NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month. Billed as a literary orgy of "really big" proportions by its organizers, NaNoWriMo is an opportunity for fledgling wannabe writers such as myself to deliver hurried, disjointed, and poorly edited prose to the world, whether the world wants it or not.

Here are the rules: competitors must produce a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. That's 1666 words or 6.6 pages of copy for each and every day of November. It doesn't have to be Theodore Shakespeare, with NaNoWriMo it's quantity over quality. You can't start until November 1st and you can't finish after the 30th. That's it.

The prize? Nothing, except the satisfaction of being able to say that you finally wrote that novel you've always been meaning to write. And a web page badge for your home page. Because of the dearth of prizes, I guess that's why there will be little verifiable cheating amongst this year's 150,000 plus participants - because what's the point?

I've tried NaNoWriMo once before and failed. Back in 2006, I wrote down barely 2000 words before unceremoniously quitting and then furiously rationalizing excuses for why I quit. My one big reason, and it's the one I'm sticking to, was that I chose a plot that required research, which I did not do, and then when I got stuck on one small point, I had neither the time to research or the ability...ah whatever. This time, I have no plot idea. The words will be the thing. And to help me succeed I am going to drop out of sight until the end of November - I will host no fabulous dinner parties, I will do no web site updates, no checking email; I'm not even going to do dishes, take out the garbage, or beat the children (though Patti doesn't know that yet...) I swear on my mother's grave that I am going to do at least the requisite 1666 words per day even if I must resort to: "It was a rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy, rainy day, yet strangely, I was dry..."

And I know that the only way I will be able to generate that many words in such a short time will be if I minimize all distractions while writing. I think I have found the most beautiful tool with which to do that. It's called Q10 and I'm actually writing this post with it right now. Q10 is a minimalist editor. It runs beautifully on a USB key. It has a fully customizable auto-save that actually works. It has spell checker, it has word counts, it has a notes feature, it has auto-correction. It has quick-text and alarm timers. It even has the ability to make a typewriter sound as you type. Including the carriage return bell! (It's funny, my kids have no idea what typewriter even sounds like...) It has been custom-designed for NaNoWriMo. It's well documented, and it's free. You can tell it was programmed with skill, certainly more skill than I have. And it works perfectly. Beautifully. It's pretty light on instructions though, so I've created my own Q10 Reference Card and printed that out to refer to when necessary...

So! Wish me luck! Pay me a visit at some point during November to see how I'm doing, and I'll talk to you in December!

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

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Maybe read No Big Deal, a story I consider to be the very best thing I ever wrote.