A terrible novel or two

In the challenging-myself-to-do-ridiculous-things-just-to-see-if-I-can category: in 2020 I wrote a novel in a month. It was so bad. So, so bad.

But that’s okay! The point wasn’t to write a good novel.

For one and a half to three hours a day (however long it took to reach ~1700 words), and right before bedtime, I sat at my computer frantically typing. I hated every moment of it, which is how you know a challenge is truly funny. The best jokes are the ones you play on yourself.

After all that, you’d think I’d have learned my lesson. But, no. Instead I roped a bunch of friends into a shared goal for 2021: writing another bad novel, but with a twist (there wasn’t much of a twist). I would do a bit more planning and try to make it slightly less terrible. Still bad though. That was important.

I finished it on my birthday (the eighteenth of April), which meant I accomplished the first part, if maybe not the second. But in stranger news, I’ve now written two novels in six months. Which is kind of neat!

They are very, very different.

Interestingly, I found I my wordcount didn’t seem to scale linearly with time when compared against last year – a thousand words a night in about an hour. So either I’ve become faster at spewing words, or there’s some cutoff point between the two where I slow down. I’d guess the latter.

Here is an excerpt from the beginning of the first book, unedited and honestly just untouched from when I first clickity-clacked it out all those months ago – maybe you’ll hate it! Weirdly, I don’t. It’s bad but I don’t hate it.

“Come here, boy.” My grandfather called from the doorway, his voice rough.  A silhouette against the dawn’s light.  He was a tall, weathered man, his height barely blunted by age.

It took him two steps to reach the hearth.  Even in shadow its embers were dull against the morning light.  He took up a stick and began to poke at them, coaxing what life he could.  

I could feel the twigs and leaves under the callowskin insulating me from the cold earth. I pushed myself to my feet shivering against the cold, and shuffled over to join him at the hearth as he tossed in another log and the air was flooded with dust and ash.

He knelt before me, his hands on my shoulders and his expression stern.

“Winter’s time is ending, and you know what that means.”

I looked at him blankly, sleep still dragging on my mind.  Not yet fully alert as is the privilege of one who knows he is safe.  My grandfather pursed his lips and shook his head ever so slightly.

“The assessment is in a fortnight.” 

I felt my eyes widen.  Two weeks.  The cabin softened; my grandfather’s face was no more than a blur before me as tears welled in my eyes.

“Easy, boy.” His voice was gruff and I could picture vividly the stern look that must have taken his warbling face.  “None of that, now.”

I suppressed a sniffle and rubbed my eyes with my palms.

“That’s two weeks to ensure you’re ready.”

I nodded to him, barely listening, not sure what to think and my mind thrashing for it.  He mistook the cause of my concern and smiled at me.

“You’ll catch someone’s eye, boy, we’ll see to it.  See to your chores and we’ll do some training.”  He nodded again, this time to himself.  And with that I staggered through the still open door, and out of the cabin.  Just two weeks until my life would change forever.

Thank you for accompanying me on this generic first-person, past-tense, in a fantasy world journey. That is all.


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