September 2009

I face a quandary: write my NaNo using the Dyson Sphere setting invented by my gaming group and friends of ours a few years ago or write another Withrow story?

Pros/Cons of the Dyson Sphere world:

  • new setting (pro)
  • new setting (con)
  • characters that aren’t yet fully defined and the ones that are don’t yet wholly interest me (con)
  • a whole world of societies and cultures to create, or at least several different societies/cultures to create (con)
  • opportunity to design whole societies & cultures (pro)
  • a setting that I find really engaging and interesting after having had it in the back of my mind for years (pro)
  • what I consider, on first examination, to be a pretty clever use of the undead in a story (pro)
  • a genuinely creepy thing about how the undead work in that world (pro)
  • possibly way too much story for 50K (pro & con)
  • no idea where the story ends or what it’s about beyond some very vague one-line thematic descriptions, such as “fulfillment is living to see the realization of a goal, not dying in its service” and “to run away from one situation is usually to run towards another” (con)
  • five weeks before NaNo starts (con).

Pros/cons of the new Withrow story:

  • characters that are pretty much fully-formed and interesting to me (pro)
  • it’s a semi-sequel to a NaNo I’ve already written and my one experience with a sequel was terrible (con)
  • set in the town where I live, so super-easy to research with many possibilities for field trips (pro)
  • too much opportunity for distraction in the name of “research” (con)
  • possibly not enough story for 50K words without padding like hell (con)
  • a character I already know I love to write (pro)
  • a character I’ve already possibly written too much (con)

I’m at a loss. In the meantime I’m trying to do character sketches for the Dyson Sphere world. I didn’t have a name for it until five minutes ago, which was itself almost enough to get me to abandon it. I guess my real quandary is, do I do NaNo to challenge myself (Dyson Sphere world) or to enjoy myself (Withrow story)? No one reads them and I have no delusion of turning them into a great literary career so they really are for my enjoyment alone but I also really do like to approach it as an exercise, not just an entertainment.


The following are things I occasionally find myself shouting from my car, while driving, thus marking the onset of years:

  • Cross with the light!
  • Cross with the fucking light!
  • Don’t wear yourself out trying to get out of the way!
  • Hang up and fucking drive!
  • Hang up and fucking walk!
  • Who taught you to look both ways? Helen Keller?
  • It’s the one on your right! The long, narrow pedal on your right!
  • That must be some great life insurance, asshole!
  • Do not just walk out there!

Honest to the gods, I do not know how people survive being pedestrians. When I was a freshman (yes, yes, make the back-in-my-day joke, just go for it) at orientation they made a thing out of warning us – since so many of us, myself included, were from hick towns with no sidewalks or crosswalks or the like – that we needed to use the signals and look both ways and everything. Now the undergrads just walk out in front of you or, better yet, walk out in front of you with their hand up in a STOP motion. That’s real nice, kid. I hope Student Health can sew that hand back on after someone’s grille snaps it clean off.