Jon Thysell

Father. Engineer. Retro games. Ukuleles. Nerd.

Month: December, 2010

Writers draw water from a shared ocean

As a writer, programmer, and maker of things, I keep myself abreast of the various developments in copyright law, and the evolving media landscape. The past decade has been a mix of amazing progress (powerful cheap/free creative tools that remove the barriers to entry), and horrifying regression (the abuse of copyright to support outmoded businesses at the cost of culture).

Today I found this quote from comic book writer/artist Dylan Horrocks:

When we’re honest, most writers will admit that our work is not entirely ours. We don’t invent our stories out of nothing. The truth is, we make them out of what’s come before and what surrounds us every day: the world we live in, people we know, stories we’ve read and images we’ve seen. We swim in a deep ocean of culture, and in a very real sense, everything we make is made from that vast, shared sea. We are part of it, just as we are part of the world in which we live. If we treat that ecosystem as nothing more than raw materials to be torn up, exploited and sold in the marketplace, then sooner or later the whole system will fall apart. And if we draw water from the shared ocean — as all writers do — we must also learn to give something back. The relationship between a writer and their work is vitally important and must be respected. But we must also respect the countless other relationships that form around our stories and ideas: those who read them, share them and respond by making something new.

Owning Culture via Techdirt

It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged links and/or articles,  (I usually just put the links in my feed) but I thought that this was particularly noteworthy, because it fairly accurately articulates my own feelings about writing, art, and culture in general.


Draft 0 of Hester and the Kookaburra King is 430 pages long, 2 inches thick

NaNoWriMo is over, I decided to take my 550 kB text file manuscript of Hester and the Kookaburra King (which I’ve dubbed Draft 0) and format it for manual editing. It took an hour in OpenOffice Writer, and I ended up with 430 double spaced pages.

That’s almost a whole ream of paper. It measures two inches thick. That’s right, that’s two inches of solid paper. Maybe not so green, but for the first draft I just have to edit on paper with a red pen.

Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me.


P.S. In the meantime I’m already brainstorming the next stories, I’m thinking three novels (everyone loves a good trilogy) with short stories in between for the Guineawick Tales canon. One thing at a time.

A NaNoWriMo postmortem, 2010 in numbers

It’s finally December, and with National Novel Writing Month over, I thought it would be fun to put up some statistics about how the month went for me. Let’s look at those word counts!

Scenes per Day

Graph of the scenes written per day for NaNoWriMo 2010

Goal: 3.7 scenes per day
4.3 scenes per day
Least: 1 scene on 11/22 (0 on 11/19, when I took a break)
Most: 9 scenes on 11/20 and 11/26

Buffer Average: 8.8 scenes ahead
Least Buffer: 1.2 scenes ahead on 11/04
Most Buffer: 14.8 scenes ahead on 11/26

Words per Scene

Graph of the words written per scene for NaNoWriMo 2010

Goal: 500 words per scene
907 words per scene
Least: 600 words
Most: 1,580 words

In addition to the text in the scenes themselves, there were 231 words of titling in the story.

Words per Day

Graph of the words written per day for NaNoWriMo 2010

Goal: 1,667 words per day
3,881 words per day
Least: 1,305 words on 11/22 (0 on 11/19, when I took a break)
Most: 8,357 words on 11/20

Past Years

Just for comparison’s sake, I’ve whipped up these charts to show how well I did my first two years doing NaNoWriMo.

Granger (NaNoWriMo 2009)

I had a lot of distractions in 2009, but ended up hitting 50,003 words, just over the finish line.

Graph of th words written per day for NaNoWriMo 2009

Goal: 1,667 words
1,724 words
Least: 245 words on 11/06 (0 on a couple of days)
Most: 6,003 words on 11/01

10,000 Butterflies (NaNoWriMo 2008)

My first year for NaNoWriMo, and I got 52,644 words out of head and into that text file.

Graph of the words written per day for NaNoWriMo 2008

Goal: 1,667 words
1,755 words
Least: 177 words on 11/19 (0 on a couple of days)
Most: 5,536 words on 11/29

Three Years of NaNoWriMo

And because I couldn’t resist, here’s all three years side by side.

Graph of words written per day for NaNoWriMo 2008 to 2010

NaNoWriMos Won: 3/3
Quickest Win:
12 days in 2010
Longest Win:
29 days in 2008, 2009

Eventually I’ll get around to posting a more qualitative postmortem for this year’s novel writing adventure.


Note: The program I used this year, FocusWriter, while awesome in many respects, had one little flaw; namely that it counted hyphenated words (guard-mouse) as two words. The algorithm that NaNoWriMo uses (wc -w on unix systems) does not. I didn’t realize this until the middle of the month, so all of my numbers are slightly inflated. For example:

Word count (wc -w): 100,227
Word count (FocusWriter): 100,916

So overall that’s 689 hyphenated “extra” words, which I think is statistically insignificant enough to ignore. Since I don’t have the “real” numbers for each day, there’s nothing really I can do about it now. Anyway, onwards!