10 November 2014

How NaNoWriMo is like being in Interstellar

I have not fallen off the face of the Earth. It just feels that way. To me and probably to all of you--any of you--well, you know who you are. Feels like I lost 23 years as I fitfully slept last night.

Last time I was pulled to the keyboard by the blog muse, I teased you with news that I had taken a leap of faith into the black hole that is the National Novel Writing Month competition. Competition is really a misnomer because, like youth soccer leagues everywhere, we are all winners--as long as we hit 50,000 words by midnight of November 30 (by time zone). I thought I could crank out 50,000 sorta-good words in a month, even with a day job that requires me to read stacks of student papers on a fairly constant schedule during the month of November. I thought I could be heroic.

Then came the film INTERSTELLAR (official website)(early teaser trailer #1 and trailer #2), which I knew I would see as if my life depended on. I knew that at the instant the first trailer passed my eyes months ago ahead of another, much lesser film. The opportunity finally came on Saturday. But no! Two-thirds through the film--and I was into it hook, line, and quantum physics--it all stopped. The theater went dark, the screen went dark, and for a minute or so all anyone could do was make-out. We all expected the problem would be corrected and the movie would continue. 

Not a still from the film INTERSTELLAR but a shot of Iceland where the film was, umm, filmed.

Then emergency lights came on and youthful theater thugs told us to get out. Actually, they asked us to "carefully evacuate." Everyone walked through the bowels of the mall's multiplex to the exterior door--just as the Ranger spacecraft would be docking with the mothership, Endurance, which kinda resembled a bracelet of Pandora ornaments. We feared to exit the safety of our theater for the cold of the parking lot. Outside, there was chaos as people did not know what to do. Wait to be called back in to finish the film? Wait for fireworks? Rush to cars and get in line to exit the mall? It was pandemonium without even a single panda! 

Long story short, I had been expecting to piggyback my evening's writing session on the inspiration from that film. I've noticed that seeing a movie or reading a book can spark that part of my brain that I also use for writing stories. It has nothing to do with the kind of story or film, or what the story or film is about, just that it fires neurons in the same part of my brain. But no movie--no conclusion, that is--so no writing session.

Why did I latch my writing session to a film like Endurance?--I mean, Interstellar

Because my little NaNoWriMo novel is a sci-fi space opera, too. Except there are no humans, no Earthlings in it. (I reserve the right to add a throw-away human later in the book.) In my working-titled novel THE MASTERS' RIDDLE, an ordinary guy, Toog of planet Sebbol, is captured in the middle of the night and awakens in a prison cell. What has he done wrong? he wonders. Lots of time to wonder, bolted to a flat surface in a dark chamber as he is. 

I know what happens next, of course; I've worked out the details about that already. But it would be cruel to give you those spoilers. Suffice to say, this story is about a diverse group of beings from across the galaxy who must work together to escape their awful circumstances. The only way to do that is to solve the riddle of who the Masters are and what their power is.

Which brings me to my slacker word count. Granted, there is the day job and its attendant duties, but evenings and weekends are free, one may argue. But it's just not as simple as that. My recently launched anti-vampire novel A DRY PATCH OF SKIN was easy to start: I was essentially writing about the quirky things I experienced last spring, then veered off into the Gothic. I even ended up in Hungary, by golly, without ever leaving my computer! But this so-called "easy knock-off" novel is tough going--much like the 130% gravity of the Waterworld our heroic astronauts encounter after passing through the Saturnalian wormhole (Nope, no hints about the Masters' riddle here, ahem!) 

So I'm struggling to make the word count each day. As the NaNoWriMo website calculated last night, I will achieve my 50,000 words somewhere after December 5--which is like January 20 in non-NaNoWriMo time! The deeper into November one gets, the slower word count rises. Coincidentally, the faster the month seems to go, too!

If you do not hear from me again, I probably slipped on the ice on some far-off planetary stage and landed head-first in the orchestra pit. Nevertheless, I shall endeavor to produce the necessary word count to pull my novel through that *wormhole, kicking and screaming, no matter what the organist is playing, nor the crop burners burning, nor the scientists scienting! As any blight-stressed, dust-choked farmer might say, "I'm gonna getter done!"

Now you are up to date. Expecting a free ticket, I hope to return soon to start the film from the beginning again! Then I shall write a proper review. Your indulgences, please. Thanks.

*If you are interested in learning about interdimensional travel without using a spaceship and cryosleep while transiting to Saturn (as in Interstellar), then you may wish to visit this Facebook page: Interdimensional TravelOr you may wish to follow the adventures through an interdimensional doorway by reading THE DREAM LAND Trilogy.

(C) Copyright 2010-2014 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.


  1. Quote: "bolted to a flat surface in a dark chamber as he is."
    Okay. I'm gonna hafta read this.
    Just sayin'.

    1. It's a rough way to start a story but...it does help keep the plot nailed down.

  2. LoL!!! If you gonna write story like interstellar story.