By Philip (Norval Joe) Carrol
Have I written about perspective, recently? Or at all? (We use a lot of glue at work, putting liners in braces, or gluing the soles on shoes, etc. I’ve lost my share of brain cells and tend to forget simple things.) (I’ve probably mentioned that as well, and have forgotten.) (Anyway…)
It’s been two and a half weeks since the St. George marathon, and I finally got out and ran last night. Granted, I hadn’t run in over two weeks, but after just a couple miles, (I was only going four and a half) I was tired and didn’t think I could make it all the way. What was wrong with me? I had lost my perspective. Yes, in just two and a half short weeks my perspective on running had shrunk from thinking, actually knowing, I could keep going for 26.2 miles, clear down to thinking I was too tired after just two simple miles.
Douglas Adams in his ‘Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxies’ sends Beeblebrox into the ‘Total Perspective Vortex’, in the hopes of humbling him, I guess. This vortex is so terrible because you perceive the entire universe realize your influence compared to the infinite vastness of space. This change in perspective is so disturbing that people come out of the vortex a quivering mass of jelly. Except, of course, for Beeblebrox how, instead, realizes he’s just as cool as he thought he was.
In my current project, my main character is a freshman in high school. He’s just transferred in to a new school from another state, at the end of September. What could be worse for a boy just trying to fit in?
He runs cross country, and he’s actually pretty good. When he hears some of the boys, who typically are at the end of the pack, groan about a long run, he talks to them about perspective.
First of all, for freshman boys, who are running about a seven minute pace during workouts, your worst workout is most likely about an hour long. So you have to run ten miles. That’s seventy minutes. If you shower quick, you’ll still be home in time to watch Brady Bunch reruns. You won’t die and the workout will end. (But Brady Bunch reruns will go on in your head forever, destroying brain cells like the worst glue you’ll ever find.)
So, what’s perspective got to do with writing?
I’ve already mentioned Nanowrimo. I think more amateur novels are written in this one month than at any other time of year. (Because of the challenge, and the support of the camaradarie.) But why don’t people write more novels year round? Many a novel remains unwritten, because of a lack of perspective.
I’ve mentioned my current project already. It began at World Con at the end of August. I was listening to one panel and I got the idea for a story. I thought I would look up one of Jeff’s Fiction Tuesday writing prompts and make a short story for Pirate’s Cove. I typed out a detailed outline, which ended up being over 1000 words by itself. This gave me a new perspective on the story: It would go longer than the 2000 to 3000 word limit of Pirate’s Cove. As I wrote it, it gave me another new perspective. As I moved along my outline, I realized this story would go past 25K words. This morning I crossed the 50K word mark, and have about 1000 words to go to finish it.
That’s a Nanowrimo win, if I did it in 30 days. But you know what? I did it in less than 60. That’s not bad. To put that in perspective; If I dedicated myself to writing, I could put out six teenage or YA novels per year. (Or I could write them. I still need to edit the story twice, before I show it to anyone, and then comes more fine tuning. But you see what I mean?”
I mean, with an outline, and a decent plot, a Nanowrimo win is in the bag. Put it into perspective. 1667 words per day. If you get eight hours of sleep, then you have sixteen hours to write. That is just one hundred words an hour. You can do it!
My goal is to have my fourth consecutive Nanowrimo win, and continue to run four days per week.
Win with me. Let’s all win.
Philip ‘Norvaljoe’ Carroll is a staff editor at Flying Island Press, and amateur novelist, vast dreamer and avoider of reality. He and perspective have been at odds his entire life, whether it was running cross country in high school, practicing the trombone, or living on a budget. Fantasy is always more fun than perspective, but much less dependable.