Working on a New Novelette (Update)

In my last blog post, I preached my new positive and productive outlook in the face of my cognitive troubles. My execution? Decent not great. I certainly accomplished far more than I would have if I had stuck with my doom-and-gloom philosophy.

My New Project

Image via Wikimedia Commons

I needed a project. My current state prevents me from taking on an ambitious task like a novel or novella. And I was tiring of the flash fiction pieces I was writing. I wanted something I could dive into, form strong characters, and follow them along their journey, but didn’t want to spend months writing it. So, I picked a form that I’d never used before: a novelette.

Between 7,500 and 17,500 words, a novelette was the perfect length for my purposes. The topic came to me immediately. When I first started my weekly short stories, I wrote a flash fiction piece entitled “The Clairalient.” In it, a man who could smell the future predicts his own death. At little over 1000 words, there was so much more story to be told.

I kept the premise but developed the characters and their relationships and added a better (and less confusing) ending. I succeeded in creating a strong emotional core, something lacking in much of my shorter fiction.  Meanwhile, instead of babying the characters, I threw every possible obstacle in their way.

While the conception of this novelette went smoothly, the writing itself has been a battle. I force myself to get in my 200 words a day. Often, I quit once I’ve reached the goal. But lately, I’ve been writing anywhere between 400 and 600 words. That’s the extent to which my brain can function at the moment.

That said, this week I convinced my physician to lower the medicine I’m on. I’ve started to notice the changes, however small. It takes a while for the drug to wear off, but hopefully, I’ll regain some semblance of my former self.

Still, I have good news. One of my new resolutions was to write 10,000 words a month. In April, I managed 11,995 (as of posting this). This goal is one of my biggest motivators to get words on the page. And I hope for even more next month.

Reading or Lack Thereof

Writing has been difficult, but reading has been the ultimate obstacle. Reading is my favorite thing to do, my reward at the end of the day. Not being able to sit down and read for hours is hurting me.

Like I said in my last update, my medication allows to me read only 20 to 30 minutes at time, my comprehension hampered. As such, I’ve only finished one book in April. But it isn’t for lack of trying.

I admit that I’m a DNFer (stands for Did Not Finish). Though some of the writing/reading community see this as a crime, I believe in not wasting hours of my life on a book I don’t enjoy. But with my foggy brain, I’m having trouble devoting the mental energy to follow a book to its end.

While I finished only one book in April, I’ve started seven! Each time, I get a hundred or so pages in and find myself unable to read any further. It took finding the right book to reach the end and that was:

The Cannibal’s Guide to Ethical Living by Mykle Hansen

I wanted to return to bizarro fiction. And what better place to start than the work of Wonderland Award-winning author Mykle Hansen? Told as a one-sided conversation between chef and critic, this novella takes place on a restaurant-ship where only the rarest meats are served, their specialty: millionaire. While the commentary on class was thick in places, I found myself riveted, especially in the second half. It was the perfect book to get me out of my reading funk and it now ranks on my list of 10 favorite bizarro books of all time.

You may have noticed that I’ve changed the way I title these monthly updates. I thought “Writing Update – [Month][Year]” was getting boring.

I plan to have a much more positive and productive month in May with my (hopefully) improved cognition. Writing these blog posts, while more difficult than they used to be, is one of the great joys of my life these days, so you may see more next month.

See you soon,


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