Instead of NaNoWriMo…

I wish success for all those who are participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo. More importantly, I’m cheering for all of you to learn something new about the craft of storytelling, and to have a lot of fun in the process. And, if you’re so wired, I hope you learn something about yourself as well.

I chose not to participate this time around. So, instead of NaNoWriMo, I attended to other things:

  • I completed my Department of Criminal Justice Services recertification for the state of Virginia, meaning I could go back to working private security if I wanted, but lately I’ve been having a more fulfilling time as a security control center officer. If only I could get it through to certain employees that locking themselves out of their own office does not grant them use of the site’s emergency phone number…
  • I spent a lot of time helping out a particular family member in need, including standing with that person in court. It does a soul good to help family, something I’ve always known but which I can always do better at.
  • Most importantly, I did exactly what I said I was going to do: I worked towards completing some of the stories that got shoved to the side every time I came up with a new idea. My mountain of unfinished manuscripts doesn’t look any smaller than when I started, but it will shrink very soon. And, if I do my job right, my bookshelf of published works will fill up at the same rate.

I still feel somewhat bummed that I skipped out on NaNoWriMo this year, so I’m thinking I will make up for it by participating in one of the upcoming Camp NaNoWriMo events.

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Time Well Spent

As it should be obvious by now, I am not participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo. Yes, I always welcome an opportunity to expand my creative mind. This time, however, I felt it more important to cash in the time I would otherwise use to write 50+K words on expanding my abilities to finish the works I’ve already started. I’m not sure how long I will stay on that particular tangent, but the fact I’m there now is very much being driven by how much I would rather see some of my stories in the hands of editors and readers instead of collecting digital dust on my hard drive.

This extra time also affords me the opportunity to accelerate my world building exploits. Much to my disappointment, I realized my alien worlds and species weren’t nearly developed enough to write the type of stories I have envisioned, so I’m jumping right back into it.

Any leftover time I thought I had after all this work has already been claimed by personal issues. Last year at approximately this point on the calendar, I was spending most of my supposed creative time putting out fires I didn’t start. This time around, some of the fires were my doing; controlled experiments, to be more specific, some of which are still in progress and still requiring my attention and energy. The classic part is that some of these projects are ‘life’ experiments whose tales and results could very well end up in some of my stories.

Wow. I just read back on these three paragraphs, and realized how much time I’ve actually spent on these tasks. Of course, I’m just getting started with some of them, but I’m not entirely sure where all the extra required time is going to come from. I still have to go to work. I still have to eat. And, as I’ve discovered a few times in my past, I really do have to invest some time for sleep. Regardless of how I get all this work done and what condition I’m in when it’s over, I will still say this is time well spent.

So, maybe I should stop posting blog entries and get to it, huh?

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NaNoWriMo 2018 – The Flip-Flop Pre-Game Show

With only a few days to go before the start of NaNoWriMo 2018, my participation debate with myself is based on what kind of story I want to write.

That’s heavily insinuating I’m actually going to participate.

And that’s because I’m also telling myself the debate of whether or not I will participate is irrelevant. I should always embrace an opportunity to create new stuff. Ergo, I should participate.


Except…I already have mountains of incomplete story ideas waiting for me to flesh out and put on paper. Why should I add yet another incomplete story to this mountain? Wouldn’t it be more beneficial in the long run if I take some of these waiting works off the mountain and complete them so I can hand them off to the reading public?

But, then again…why would I pass on an opportunity to expand my mind with the challenge of creating a brand new character and/or culture and/or technology and/or planets and/or species? Or, anything else I can come up with, for that matter!

Because coming up with a brand new character and/or culture and/or technology and/or planets and/or species has never been that hard for me. Excuse me if you’ve heard me say this before: our sun will run out of fuel long before I run out of ideas. What has not been easy for me is mastering the challenge of following through on the ideas that I have already come up with.

Which is why my mountain of unfinished works is a mountain in the first place.

So, as of right now, I will not be participating in this year’s NaNoWriMo challenge.

Until I change my mind again.

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NaNoWriMo 2018 – The Planner / Pantster Approach

Towards the beginning of each NaNoWriMo campaign, I usually see plenty of digital traffic detailing how each participant is going to handle the task of creating their new first draft of a novel: are they going to plan ahead, or are they going to make it all up as they go?

For the uninitiated…

Planners: The name gives their method away. These participants create some sort of outline for the story, and even work out the bios for their main characters, ahead of time. That way, when November 1 hits, they can start writing the actual story because (most of) the behind-the-scenes work already exists.

Pantsters: These are the participants who might have some idea of what they want to write about, but they don’t have much in the way of a solid or coherent game plan, leaving them to make up most of their story as they go. In other words…when November 1 hits, they are chugging their way through NaNoWriMo by the seat of their pants.

When I finally talked myself into participating in my very first NaNoWriMo campaign (November 2014), I already knew I wanted to bring one of my ‘in the queue’ story ideas to life. I also decided the best method in which to create my new story would be the Planner approach. I spent half of October working on basic character sketches, a fairly detailed order of events, and I even created a schedule of college football games that my main character’s team would play during the course of the story. My game plan was, once NaNoWriMo started, I would simply draw from all my notes and write until my wrist went numb. Every once in a while, I started making up scenes that had nothing to do with the original story line; but, with just a bit of extra brain wattage, I was able to fit those ideas into the established framework as if they were supposed to be there all along. Once November was over, I looked back at what I created and decided no writing method other than Planner could have yielded the results I held in my hands.

Two years later (November 2016), it took me until Halloween night to decide I was even going to participate. The only problem was I didn’t have a novel length story idea I was comfortable bringing to life at that time. However, earlier in the year, I was playing around with the idea of creating a story with at least a dozen POV characters and multiple story arcs; I never tried that before, so I decided this was the perfect time to experiment with it. I had only a vague idea of where the story would take place and what I wanted to accomplish, so I decided to make it all up as I went along. Of course, I knew I was following the Pantster approach. It was definitely unfamiliar territory for me, and my story showed it; leafing back through the notebook from that NaNoWriMo, I have to laugh at how many course changes the story made during those thirty days. Yet, while writing from the heart and/or soul instead of following a pre-defined pattern, I uncorked some of the most profound and personal material that has ever come from my mind. Some of that content, as I would find out during the passage of time, shaped how I do things within the realm of writing…and even, to a certain extent, outside that realm. Once November was over, I looked back at what I created and decided no writing method other than Pantster could have yielded such profound revelations. Oh…and the story, as disorganized as it was, has good potential for the future.

Last year (November 2017), I wrote a story based loosely on an event in my family’s history, so the primary character sketches and order of events were already created for me. Planner approach? Yep. Writing it, however was done by feel and emotion, as if the events were happening before me in real time, and I was thrust into the role of family chronicler. Pantster approach? I’d say so. This process more than once left me emotionally drained, and the scenes were almost always written out of order. The end result, though, turned out more coherent than any of my other NaNoWriMo attempts, which is why I’m leaning towards turning this one into a novel before any of my other NaNoWriMo exploits. Once November was over, I looked back at what I created and decided no writing method other than whatever I just pulled off—a hybrid of the two primary NaNoWriMo approaches—could have yielded such an intense story.

I have very few rules that govern how I tell my stories, but one of them states: ”The story will tell me which method I will use to bring it to life.” AS you can tell, I followed that rule over my past three NaNoWriMo attempts.

Now…as far as NaNoWriMo 2018 is concerned…I’m not even sure I will be participating this time around. I have some detailed ideas for novels that would definitely benefit from thirty consecutive days of writing (Planners). I even have a few rough ideas for other novels which have not yet been fleshed out (Pantsters). And, as it seems to be my tendency, I have a few life experiences that might be fun to bring to life (Hybrid). Or, I might invent an entirely new and different way of constructing my story. Whatever I decide, I already know it will be a rewarding experience for me, and will no doubt be decided on at the last possible second.

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I made a life changing discovery today.

My writing sucks.

Compared to where it was a year ago.

That was the discovery.

I’m dedicating my efforts so I can say the same thing about my writing this time, next year.

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Random Bouts of Randomism

Every summer, just before the new school season starts up, a major retailer sells the old school 100-page marble notebooks for 50 cents each.

I’ve been known to grab a handful of them each time I shop.

Currently, I have a stockpile of about 40 marble notebooks. Probably more.

Last night, I gave my high school junior son 2 of them for his classes.

Now, I am compelled to buy 10 more to replenish my stockpile.

I’m not the one with the problem, you are.


If my life goes in the direction I’m currently aiming, I will be back in school fairly soon. I haven’t quite narrowed down what I want to study (it seems I have as many desired directions as I do marble notebooks), so I still don’t even know which institution to enroll in. Either way, I am going to study something. Self-studying is cool, but getting back into the flow of academia (even if it’s an online school) will be a nice change of pace.


It’s still only September, but I’m already seeing lots of NaNoWriMo traffic on line. One of the most prominent threads…whether or not the poster will participate this year.

I haven’t yet made my official decision, but I’m leaning towards not participating. I’ve said this before…I’ve got so many started stories that I really should finish; that’s what I’ve been dedicating my time to these last two months (not including starting “Back Nine” from scratch), and I want to keep that momentum going. Yeah, I know this is a boring approach, but I’d really like to see some of these unfinished stories of mine out there where the reading public can get to them.


I’ve been watching college football since I was a kid…which, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, is directly related to having grown up in a college town.

Five seasons ago, my home town team, the Maryland Terrapins, moved from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten Conference, which meant I had to get my inside information / entertainment from a different blog.

For a few years, I have been visiting the web site of a major sports broadcast company for all things Big Ten. Other than the fact there was some mild but still noticeable bias and/or uncertainty from the writers towards accepting the newbie Terrapins’ into the conference, and the fact that several of the site’s regular visitors had no respect for the newbie Terrapins being in ‘their’ conference (I took a small amount of twisted solace in noticing they were far more brutal to fellow conference new arrival, Rutgers), and the fact that it seemed two out of every three posts were about the Michigan Wolverines, this blog nevertheless became part of my regular routine during the college football season.

However, a week before the start of this season, I discovered they haven’t posted an article since April (a Michigan article, of course). No biggie, I thought, I would check back once the season actually started. Exerting a great deal of patience, I waited three days after Maryland’s opening season 34-29 victory over Texas, then revisited the site.

The same April-dated Michigan article was still at the top of the page.

Either this blog was completely abandoned without warning or apparent reason, or I accidentally set my browser’s refresh setting to ‘never.’

I searched around, and found what, so far, looks to be my new official Big Ten football blog…

Off Tackle Empire

Yes, their writers have their individual biases towards their favorite teams (and the expected converse yet mostly playful dislike for their favorite team’s rivals), but, from what I’ve noticed, these writers are first and foremost fans of these teams and of the Big Ten in general. And, although I’ve since come to realize there will always be old school Big Ten patrons who will never accept the presence of these two East coast schools, the OTE writers and visitors are a quite a bit more creative in how they dispense the smack talk. Rutgers still takes a beating, though, I’ve noticed.

So, as it stands now, Off Tackle Empire is my Big Ten blog of choice. I’m Steve Husk, a life long Maryland Terrapins fan, and I approved this message.

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When Characters Talk Back

It’s a known issue I like to work on multiple stories at any given time. What should be inherently expected from that practice is some of those stories fall through the cracks for unfortunate amounts of time…which means some of my favorite characters end up in an unintentional state of suspended animation. Recently, several characters have said something to me about that:

Lindsay (Metzgerhund Empire): Lindsay and Billy (the story’s main character) have been each other’s personal tormentors and partners in crime since elementary school. Now that they are in their teens, they’ve both been experiencing the usual feelings and urges for others, but so far not for each other. Lindsay wants to know whether or not I’m going to let her finally hook up with Billy. Suffice it to say, she was not happy when I did not have a definitive answer for her, but I did offer her a different boyfriend…which she accepted because Billy didn’t show any signs of jealousy…nor any signs of interest, for that matter…which Lindsay wasn’t sure if that meant Billy was completely comfortable with their continued friendship or really didn’t like her that way in the first place…which Lindsay immediately blamed me for. Billy, on the other hand, said he was cool with whoever I hooked him up with. Lindsay blamed me for that, too.

Jack (Back Nine): I paused on the written part of this story to redesign part of the golf course Jack is currently playing. In the meantime, Jack and his friend have been stuck on the same hole for about a week. I’ve played behind some slow foursomes during my golfing days, but not quite like this, so I thanked Jack for his patience, and hinted I might reward him with a birdie on one of the final holes. Oh, wait…the final holes are the ones I redesigned to be tougher. Sucks for Jack.

Craig (Battle of Fort Cappello): I can understand Craig’s frustration with me not having worked on his story for nearly a month. While he wasn’t happy with some of the miserable circumstances I was setting him up for, he got a glimpse of the story’s ending, and decided the rewards I have waiting for him at the finish line will be well worth the impending pain and hardships and humiliation he would have to deal with while getting there. Mostly, though, he was excited when I proposed promoting him to the story’s main character. Who is the current main character, you ask? His wife. Hmmmm…I see ‘in-house complications’ being added to Craig’s list of miserable circumstances to deal with.

Yes, I do talk to my characters.

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