That Magical Time of Year: NaNoWriMo

My novel for NaNoWriMo 2013
My novel for NaNoWriMo 2013

I know I have other things I should be working on. That’s not ever a question. Hell, other than the epic fantasy novel I’m currently somewhere past halfway done writing, I have a few short stories I really should write and submit.

And even if I was going to find time to write in the Cobalt City universe again, something I haven’t done in long-form for far too many years, why this? I have The Panda Sanction started and outlined from years ago. I should, at some point, write the final book of the Protectorate series. I mean, I already have a cover for it and everything. Why something out of the blue like Los Muertos?

The only answer I have is that I want to.

Honestly, I expect I could be the one protesting loudest over not working on those other projects. I feel obligated to write them, and damn if I’m not a creature of obligation.

But here’s the thing about Cobalt City, the reason I invited other people into the sandbox to write Cobalt City stories: the city is too big, the cast too promising, for me to ever be able to write all the stories myself.

I love Manuel de la Vega  and his alter-ego Gato Loco. But there’s a part of his story that is only hinted at with support roles in Cobalt City Blues before he goes about the process of reinvention in his own series, starting with Greetings From Buena Rosa.

Before he became this scarred, cynical vagabond with a panda sidekick, Manuel was a star police detective with a rich private life, navigating a difficult transition from vigilante lone-wolf Lothario to someone capable of forming lasting friendships and relationships. His friendship with Simon Floyd, the dead jazz pianist known as Mister Grey, never got the time it deserved. His relationship with The Hollows, never fully explored.

Why write Los Muertos?

Because the idea of Gato Loco and Mister Grey delving into a mystery with supernatural overtones gives me more glee than you can imagine.

Because it gives me a chance to write Tatterdemalion, which I did once before it was in my second NaNo novel, may it never see the light of day for as long as I live. Lynette Napaowski and the Parliament of Rags deserve better than that.

Because I remember standing in the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia looking at a collection of 19 skulls with holes punched in them thinking, “Now, THERE’S a story.”

Because it’s autumn. I love this season, and my mind is awhirl with ghosts and goblins and orange leaves and this sense that the world is dying around me, but doing it beautifully. And what better time to tell a Halloween story about a woman wearing haunted rags, a dead musician, and a guy dressed as a black cat?

Why write Los Muertos?

Because my very first NaNoWriMo was eight years ago, the Gato Loco novel Greetings from Buena Rosa (which I plan to make available for only $0.99 for the entire month of November in celebration of NaNoWriMo). Since then, I tried to write a new book every year. I finished four in the intervening seven years, three of which are worth revisiting at some point to do another draft and maybe publish. The mystery novel now called Murder Frontera, almost certainly once I find time. The pulp sci-fi of No Escape from Planet Motherfucker might get a few more passes to self-publish on a lark.

Eight years.

And while my success rate is better than 50% at this point, there is something magical about National Novel Writing Month, succeed or fail. For a month, I’m not that lone nutbar at the coffeehouse trying to write a novel. Our numbers are legion. And while most people won’t think to publish what they write, that doesn’t make it any less magical. Writing is writing and as such has value.

I don’t know if I’ll finish Los Muertos. I hope to. I hoped to finish the historical romance about the Russian women bomber pilots and that didn’t last a week. Time will tell.

Even if I finish Los Muertos, I may never publish it. One lesson learned from NaNo is that writing is easy compared to editing. There’s a reason I have several novels that never made it past first draft. Writing is fun. Rewriting and editing is work.

And yes, I know, that’s part of the job. This is not my first rodeo. But I get protective of my time, so I prioritize which books get revisions.

But there’s hope. Hope where there never was before. The “Golden Age” adventures of Gato Loco and Mister Grey are going to happen. I have a writing playlist built to push me through the process, to inform some of the beats and pacing. In fact, I put it on Grooveshark so you can give it a listen if you want.

I’m bringing a new novel to Cobalt City.

And hell is coming with me.

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