I feel like Kramer in the Seinfeld episode “The Contest”: “I’m out.”
I’m going to have to withdraw from National Novel-Writing Month
(NaNoWriMo) before it’s begun.

After having my second book published ( ), then
successfully completing 24-Hour Comics Day on October 1, I felt as
though I could do almost anything creative I decided to if it had a
time limit ( ). A couple of weeks later, I decided
to google the infamous NaNoWriMo and see when it started this year,
which happened to be — a couple of weeks later, November 1.

I didn’t have much time to get ready, and I still thought of my entry
in the contest as provisional until a few days ago, when I started
taking it more seriously. I decided to write a novel-length story
about Kevin Goodguy, the dimension-hopping “gourmet/gourmand” from my

Within a couple of days, my job suddenly quadrupled in complexity.
That’s just an estimate, because this new phase hasn’t quite begun,
and we’re still costing personnel and counting hours, but it’s going
to require more of my attention more of the day, learning new
technologies, and possibly some overtime. The kicker? It’s pretty much
just for the month of November.

People say that as soon as NaNoWriMo starts, life will throw
everything it has at you, but I think that’s superstitious weak tea.
If I really believed in providence, I might redouble my efforts to
prepare for the contest. But I don’t, and it seems foolish to both
potentially damage my reputation at work, and almost certainly fail at

It’s a pity, because I was more than half-planning to use the NaNo
experience as research for my next book, but there’s always 2012, and
I can still work NaNo in if I plan carefully.

The River Styx as polluted stream of consciousness

Much as I prepared for 24-Hour Comic Day ( ), tonight I decided to see how fast I could write an 850-word piece
of fiction. I’m planning to participate in National Novel-Writing
Month ( ) in November, during which I must write
a 50,000 word novel. That amounts to 1,667 words a day over 30 days,
and various advisors have it that if you can write 850-word chunks
twice a day (say, morning and evening), you’ve done 1,700 words and
are therefore a bit ahead. Hence my 850 words.

I wrote 876 words in 37 minutes and 12 seconds, including one bathroom
break. I obtained a coherent short-short story, covering most of a
letter-sized page in single-spaced monofont. I won’t harm you by
making you read it, but I will tell you it involves a Balrog, who has
become a demon of sloth in this, the Seventeenth Age of Middle-earth,
carrying away a crabby girl named Lucy (no relation) to be distributed
as a fine mist throughout the pits of the Christian Hell. It has a
happy ending.

It’s pretty bad. It tries too hard to be clever. It relies too much on
pop culture. It even contains me as a character. But what are you
going to do? I wrote it at almost my typing speed.

I’m not sure I can write even twice as well if I take thrice as long,
but at least now I have some inkling I can write a thoroughly bad
novel in 74 hours and 24 minutes.


(edit) I mistakenly doubled the time needed. It’s really 37 minutes and 12 seconds, twice a day, times 30 days, or 37 hours and 12 minutes. Not even a workweek!

Melinda’s mathematical hat


Just in time for cool weather, I received in the mail today, from my
sister-in-law Melinda Hale Hautala, a mathematically-correct,
hand-knitted woolen hat in the shape of a Klein bottle. A Klein bottle
is something like a four-dimensional Moebius strip. (Yes, I know this
is not a rigorous definition.)

I’ve wanted a hat like this for years and years — really — and I’ll
be wearing it both outside and inside. (A little topological humor

Thanks, Melinda!

Amused at my mentions in Wikipedia

I find I’m currently mentioned in Wikipedia four times: in articles on
Mind Performance Hacks and the Linux kernel, as well as the Klingon
language and The World of Synnibarr roleplaying game.

But for how long… for how long?

Fame is fleeting, Wikipedia entries even fleetinger.

*Printable* pandimensional PDF of 24-hour comic now available #24hcd

I just made available a printable PDF of my 24-hour comic, “Inaction
Comics No. 1: Kevin Goodguy, Pandimensional Gourmet/Gourmand in ‘Good
Taste, Bad Posture’.”

Print it duplex and portrait, then fold the resulting stack down the
middle (you’ll see — it’s obvious), and you’ll have a little
funnybook with the pages in the right order. Stapling it will require
a long-armed stapler — sorry.

Please note the comic is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike license.

Marty comments that the balloons on page 1 should read, not “Uh, uh!”
and “Uh, uh!”, but “Uh, uh!” and “Uh, oh!” I’m not changing anything
— the comic was done by the 24-hour deadline and that’s that — but
I’m sure that’s how the edition of this comic that was printed in
Heaven has it.

A couple of things I’ve learned as a writer

1. No one wants to see your drafts, except (maybe) your writing group.

2. If you’ve written a book, and you want to show it to someone, make
sure it’s a brand-new, shiny copy and not your beat-up personal one,
or they will look at you as if you’re a homeless person. People really
do judge books by their covers.

(edit) Reword rule 1 to “No one wants to see your drafts, except *your editor* and (maybe) your writing group.”



Designing the game of my personal canon

I’m not reading as many books as I had planned off my list of those I
must read before I die.

Of the 50 books I’ve read so far this year, only 19 of them were on
the plan, and frankly, many of them were books I had just heard of and
added to the plan so I could check them off. (They were definitely
worth reading, of course.)

So I don’t think I’ll keep a Must Read List anymore. I’ll make a Worth
Reading List (that’s pretty much the same list), and just one rule:

I need not read every book on my list, but at least half the books I
read must come from it.

Perhaps, as my wife Marty suggests, I can treat this as an exercise in
game design, and judiciously add (or remove) another rule or two to
shape my behavior in the future.

Third definitive edition of my 24-hour comic retains "ick" #24hcd

This unified edition keeps the “icky” first page that’s so different
from the rest of the comic, but adds a little foreword talking about
what my intent was, and why now I’m not so happy about this “splash”

That’s it. I’m done.

Except for the printable version, which I’m producing for myself, at least.