I got blisters on me fingers!

Actually, I have one blister on one finger and it doesn’t have anything to do with the amount I’ve been typing. Some plates just shouldn’t be grabbed after spending five minutes cooking bacon in a microwave. As an aside, bacon shouldn’t be cooked in a microwave, but that’s another story for another day.

So, I promised a progress update on my NaNoWriMo project.

After one full week of writing, I’m only a few hundred words behind pace to finish the full 50,000 by the end of November 30. I’m not displeased with being slightly behind. Frankly, I wasn’t sure I could churn out as much as I have already. There was a time when 11,000 words seemed like a lot to write. I did it in five days and I actually don’t hate what I’ve written so far.

Why five days instead of seven? Well, I spent most of last Thursday puking my guts out. I couldn’t even look at the computer screen without wondering what it would look like covered in vomit. Then, I took Saturday off to spend some time with the family and play some poker with the boys.


I have, in most cases, done my best to not think so much. In the past when I’ve tried to start a long writing project, I get bogged down in research and details. While that’s not really a bad thing, this sprint-marathon is not tailored for research. I did spend about an hour researching some natural history, but other than that, I’ve written from memory and heart.

In the past, I’ve always started by thinking I have to write the next great literary masterpiece. Much like how I used to play poker (wanting people to think I was the best player at the table), I used to write with the idea that if I wrote something big, it HAD to be publishable and it HAD to impress my friends and say, “Man, that’s worthy of a National Book Award.” That’s no way to run a railroad. Now, I can sit back and write fearlessly. I already know that there will be people (if I ever let them) that will wonder why I’m not writing more introspectively.

That leads me to this: I’m writing a fun story and I’m not ashamed of it. In the past, I’ve always thought I had to write a deep literary masterpiece full of emotional subtext and unconventional themes. As it turns out, it’s a lot easier (and more fun for me) to write something that makes me laugh than makes me cry. I’m not saying my story is funny. It’s just fun. I used to dream about being a songwriter. In the process, I wrote some perfectly awful sappy or sad songs. Later, I started writing stupid songs, dirty songs, and fun songs. Those are the ones I remember. Those are the ones some folks still ask me to sing.


As I suspected, setting aside the time to write has been a struggle. I spend my entire working day on the computer. When I’m done working, I often want to play poker on the computer. Add writing to that, and my laptop is now fused to my junk. I’ve also found a lot of excuses. A sick wife, a sick kid, a busy work schedule. Other blogs. It’s been busy. But I’ve done it. I just have to find a way to keep up the pace.

I also see trouble looming on the horizon. I’ve nearly exhausted my favorite part of writing: exposition. In any reading, writing, film-watching I do, my favorite part is the set-up. I’m nearly through with that part and really have to start getting to the thick of the plot. I have it in mind, but the transition is not going to be an easy one.

Finally, I’m 20% finished and I’ve yet to come up with a title. That’s no big deal, I know, but sometimes a working title helps. Discarded titles: River Town; Statue Afire; Pluck; Buildings.

So, what the hell is this mystery thing?

Well, I’m not quite ready to say yet. I know what it’s not. It’s not Faulkner. It’s not Hemmingway. It’s not HST.

Beyond that, I can tell you it’s a completely fictional tale that was partially inspired by some real events in a real city.

And here’s another short excerpt:

The rules with Mr. Smith were stricter.

Dancers were only allowed to call him “Mr. Smith.” They were not allowed to remove his baseball cap. They were not allowed to talk about him with other dancers. In return, anyone who danced for Mr. Smith got to keep everything he paid.

“Good evening, Mr. Smith,” Pebbles said.

His voice still lowered by an octave, Mr. Smith said, “Hello.”

KISS exploded out of the speakers overhead. As “Lick it Up” began, Mr. Smith slid down until his head rested on the arm of the couch. Pebbles untied her sarong and let it drop to the floor. She put her hands behind her back and undid her top. She bent over and brushed her hair against Mr. Smith’s chin. Under the music, she heard him moan. His right hand fell to his side where Pebbles let the side of her leg slide. She put her hands on his shoulders and threw one leg to his other side.

“What would you like tonight, Mr. Smith?” It was a question she asked every time, knowing the answer would be the same every time.

“Just pinch them, Pebbles,” was the answer that came from below the baseball cap.

Now, I have some writing to do.

Brad Willis

Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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