The Blog

#NaNoWriMo update number 2

So today and yesterday have been slow going. I’m on Chapter Eight, which is the first (and may end up being the only) chapter written from the POV of the captain of the ship. I’m not entirely certain why this one has been so maddening, but the first draft mojo that carried me through the first seven chapters seems to have evaporated. Writing this chapter has been like a day trip to the DMV, and I hope to finish it tomorrow so I can get to Chapter Nine and close out Part Two (out of five) of the novel.

Stats so far: 25,000 words, about 6500 of which already existed. So call it 18,500 for the month then. The total word count so far works out to about 90 pages or so, and I’m on track for a first draft total word count of about 70,000 (I seem to write short first drafts; with How I’m Spending My Afterlife, the first draft was about 65,000 words, but the published version ended up with 82,000).

Next update (but probably not the next blog post) will be sometime next week.

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Unreliable narrators

I wrote an Author POV column over at Shotgun Honey entitled “We are unreliable narrators of our own lives:”

Self-deception gets in our way, trips us up, makes us do bone-stupid things. We all suffer from it from time to time. Luckily, most of us recognize this and, at least sometimes, try to compensate the best we can.

But sometimes we don’t confront our self-deceptions until it’s too late. For me, that happened when I was coming out of graduate school with an eye on a tenure-track teaching gig. Turns out, the entire professional landscape for college professors—and especially the job market—had shifted in a major way while I was locked away inside the ivory tower, and I’d failed to notice it.

Wait, scratch that. I had noticed it. I just used my own powers of self-deception to convince myself it wouldn’t affect me. Spoiler alert: it did …

Self-deception is probably the primary theme of How I’m Spending My Afterlife, but it wasn’t until I had actually published the book that I fully understood how it had once also applied to my own life. Click on over to Shotgun Honey to read the whole thing.

It’s NaNoWriMo 2017

So I began last November intending to crank out 50,000 words during NaNoWriMo. I got off to an erratic start, as I recall, and then the election completely sapped my desire to write anything for … well, for longer than it should have.

This year, I will be – once again – working on what I hope will become the follow-up (but not sequel) to How I’m Spending My Afterlife as part of NaNoWriMo. I know that, in its purest form, this event is supposed to be about writing 50,000 words toward a fresh project during the month of November. But I’m modifying the rules a bit here, since I just recently FINALLY figured out what this novel is going to be, and breaking off to start something new at this particular moment would be foolish.

So: my NaNoWriMo goal is to have an entire first draft of this novel completed. I have, in various forms and in a wide range of acceptability, about 18,000 mostly very raw words already written toward this goal. For that reason, I’m not going to use the word count goal (since I have a bit of a head start there), but will use the binary metric of Finished / Not Finished instead.

I’ll be giving updates on my progress every few days. Here’s the first:

I only wrote a few new paragraphs yesterday, mostly due to a severe bout of insomnia the night before (I could hardly keep my eyes focused on my screen). Today I wrote about seven or eight hundred words toward three of the more polished parts of my manuscript. So, for those of you who require running word count totals, I’d say the manuscript so far has ten thousand words over three chapters, with nine hundred of those being NaNoWriMo words.

A slow start, to be sure. But the month is young.

As promised, a fun time was had by all

Thanks to everyone who came out to Adobe Books on Saturday night to celebrate the release of How I’m Spending My Afterlife – it was a great fun evening, and I thoroughly enjoyed seeing and talking to each one of you. I hope you had as much fun as I did.

And if you weren’t there, well, I have to tell you that your absence was noticed and in fact was the only thing preventing it from being the most perfectest book launch event in the history of the written word.

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Just kidding, of course.

I’ve done readings before, but they were always as part of a larger program where I shared the mic with half a dozen other writers. This was the first time I’d had the spotlight to myself, and I’m very grateful to my friend Ken who stood in as the emcee and really helped take the pressure off. (I’m terrible at crowdwork.) It also helped that I knew so many of the audience.

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The program was pretty straightforward: I read the first chapter of the book (which is available to read for free at Disclaimer, in case you’re interested), then took questions for a bit, and then read the part of the book that was the most fun to write.

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It had actually been a little while since I’d read any of the text. Once I had the book all ready for publication, I felt free to jump back into other projects I’d started but temporarily set aside, like the first draft of the next novel, for example. And even after all the time I’d spent with those sentences and those words during the course of writing the book, I still found a few bits that felt new and unfamiliar once I was finally reading them aloud in front of an audience.

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The whole thing was a great experience, and it was something that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Not because I love being the center of attention or anything – I think most people who know me will tell you that I do not, in fact, love any such thing. But because it made the whole thing feel official, which is important when you publish your own work. And even more important, it made How I’m Spending My Afterlife finally feel done, in a way that gives me the ability to move on without guilt.

The book is officially no longer mine. It belongs to its readers now. Thanks for being one of them.

Oh, and before I forget, I want to thank my dear friend Julia for her contributions to the refreshments table (she baked all the delicious bourbon-based treats).

Event tomorrow: Book launch party for “How I’m Spending My Afterlife” in SF!

If you are in the San Francisco area, please come join me for a DIY-style book launch party for my newly-released novel, How I’m Spending My Afterlife. I’ll be reading a couple of the good bits from the book, you can ask me questions, and you can have me sign your copy – or if you don’t have one yet, you can buy one there!

Also, there will be wine and some amazing bourbon-based sweet treats, courtesy of my good friend Julia. I guarantee* a grand time will be had by all!

(*Note: not a guarantee)

Here’s a link to the Facebook event page, if you’re one of those people who finds that helpful. For everyone else, here are the details:

Event: Book launch party for How I’m Spending My Afterlife by Spencer Fleury

Date and time: Saturday, October 21st, 7-9 pm

Place: Adobe Books, 3130 24th Street, San Francisco, CA (between Folsom and Shotwell, just a few blocks from the 24th & Mission BART station)