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I was poking around on my hard drive last night, and I came across 1000 words of a mystery that I started a few years ago and never finished. It was actually pretty good. Good enough that the thought "hey, I should finish this thing and send it somewhere" crossed my mind. Followed immediately by the thought "aw, who are you kidding -- you don't even have the work ethic to finish a bowl of raisin bran, much less a short story."

Curiously, this followed just hours after another bout of literary defeatism. Earlier that day I had been at the National Novel Writing Month website, thinking, as I always do this time of year, that I should sign up and finally write my long-planned fantasy novel about obese wizards*. But then I did the math ("let's see, 50,000 words divided by 31 days -- no, wait, November only has 30 days -- carry the one, comes out to ... 1,700 words a day?! Fuuuuck no!") and that was the end of that.

So, yeah: writing a novel in a month ain't gonna happen. Not this year, not for me. But, hmm ... you know what I could probably do ...?

defective yeti is proud to announce


"The NaNoWriMo For Lazy People&trade!"

(Now with 100% more website)

Yes kids, October 31-November 4 is the blogosphere's first annual Write A Short Story Week!

Here's how it works: ummm, you write a short story. In a week. The End.


Wherein I answer questions that have been neither frequent nor, to be honest, asked, given that I just made this whole thing up 15 minutes ago

Q: No for real: how does this work?

A: Your goal will to be to write a short story approximately 5000 words in length over the course of five days. That's equals 1000 words a day! Even a someone too listless to divide 5000 by five themselves can write 1000 words a day for five days!

Q: What if I want to write a longer story? Or a shorter one?

A: A thousand words, ten thousand words, whatever. Hell, I don't care if you write it in Aramaic, so long as you have a rough draft by November 4th (unless you are Mel Gibson, in which case I am going to object to you writing it in Aramaic).

Q: Isn't "WriAShorStorWe" a pretty stupid name?

A: Yes. That's why it's funny.

Q: As a blogger I have conditioned myself to only write material that I can then post to teh IntarwWeb and have fawned over by millions of anonymous surfers. I must therefore regretfully decline your offer to participate in WriAShorStorWe.

A: Not so fast, Thomas Nast. On November 4th I will put up an official WriAShorStorWe post here on dy, in the comments of which you can link to your masterpiece. Actually, I think I'll have a WriAShorStorWe post each day of next week, so that those who want to post their story incremenatally (e.g., "Here's the 1000 words I wrote today") can do so.

Q: Is this like NaNoWriMo where I'm not allowed to start writing until the official start date?

A: Nah -- start now, if you'd like. Given that I already have 1000 words of my story written, it would be a little unfair for me to disallow other folks from headstarting (<--- just made that word up, you can use it). In fact, my plan is to get my rough draft done by November 2nd and then spend each day of WriAShorStorWe polishing 1000 words or so and posting the thing in installments.

Q: What if I plan to actually submit my story to a magazine or something? Wouldn't posting it on the Internet be kinda dumb.

A: Probably. But your story ain't gonna get published unless you write it, and if WriAShorStorWe is the only way to ensure that happens (as is the case with me), it's kinda of a moot point. Just do what I plan to do: save the story as an html file and then specify that webpage in your robots.txt file. This will ensure that search engines do not index it. Keep the story up for a week or so, remove it from your site, polish it up and fire it off to "CO-BALLED: The Magazine Of Contemporary Erotic Fiction By And About COBOL Programmers" or whatever-- Google should have no record of it.

Q: If I have questions about WriAShorStorWe, who should I contact?

A: Send 'em my way, and I'll add them to the AAQ (Actually Asked Questions). Since I'm just making shit up, here, you can expedite the process by including, with your question, an answer, which will then become part of Ye Olde Stardard Rules if consider it consistant with my overall concept of the event and/or I am too lazy to think up a better reply.

P.s. Do not write me if you don't know how to write a short story and are looking for tips, because I'm just gonna fake my way through this like everyone else. Go here and read until you have an epiphany, that'd be my advice.

Okay, I think we're done here. So, in conclusion: WriAShorStorWe October 31-November 4, you're gonna participate, I like pudding, excelsior!

* Totally not kidding about this. Someday I will write it and then you'll see.
Posted on October 24, 2005 to WriAShorStorWe


COBOL programmers?

Posted by: regan on October 24, 2005 3:10 PM

Betrayed by spellcheck yet again.

Posted by: Matthew on October 24, 2005 3:14 PM

Wow, that's the best idea I've heard for a long time. I've been looking at the NaNoWriMo page and wishing for a lazy person's option - I'm grateful for the one you just made up fifteen minutes ago.

Posted by: maven on October 24, 2005 3:16 PM

Great idea! I'm too busy/lazy to write a novel, but I might be able to focus for a week. Plus, I have an idea I've been kicking around for a while, but never got up the gumption to actually write it. Can't wait.

Posted by: Squirrelly on October 24, 2005 4:18 PM

Damnitall Yeti! The obese wizards story...THAT'S MINE!

Posted by: miel on October 24, 2005 5:06 PM

Excellent, can't wait another week, starting now.

Posted by: Easily Distrac on October 24, 2005 5:09 PM


Posted by: Brittanie on October 24, 2005 5:12 PM

i'm in. i plan to ration myself one red stripe a night for four nights, then the rest of the twelve pack that final night. (spellcheck? CHECK.)

and y'know, the indians of this region used to tell tales of the wriashostorwe. how it used to roam these forests at night, running into things and falling over. (the name actually transliterates to, roughly, 'thump, then louder thump, in the moonless woods, followed by soft cursing in an unknown language.'

what ho, the what wriashostorwe.

Posted by: jack_babylon on October 24, 2005 6:48 PM

Nah, I'll pass. 100 words or less is more my speed.

Posted by: The Sanity Inspector on October 24, 2005 7:24 PM

I think I busted a lung when I read the "counting-Fuuuuck no!" part. Hee! Although seriously, I think I popped something.

Posted by: Ryan on October 24, 2005 7:45 PM

I'm totally game. No idea how well it'll work out but I'm totally going to jump on the wagon. Will it hold me? I'm kinda big.

Posted by: geoff on October 24, 2005 9:48 PM

A few more details about when distributing a story counts a "publishing" to a magazine. The general guidelines seem to be that you are OK if

- The story is not publicly accessible (either in a non-indexed page, as Mr Baldwin suggested or protected with a password).
- Distribution is limited to a small, targeted group of people. (How small is "small" can vary from market to market: some people say under 50, others say under 500.)
- Exceptions are made for workshops, too, so structuring the site as asking for critiques and offer critques in return gives you a much wider range.
- The story is significantly changed from the publicly posted version. So if you vomit forth your 5000 words (like I do) and then go back and rewrite the whole thing anyway, you've got no problem.

(Here's hoping that several years of fiction workshops can help someone else. Since I'm way too lazy to finish anything, I don't get to use the advice much.) :-)

Posted by: Dorothy on October 25, 2005 6:33 AM

I signed up for NaNoWriMo a few weeks ago and have been paralyzed by panic ever since.

I think I like your short story week much better.

Posted by: EverydaySuperGoddess on October 25, 2005 7:05 AM

While I have hopes of actually doing the NaNoWriMo one year, I can't imagine this is the year, so kudos on this idea! Also, there is a thin film of very bad office coffee on my monitor thanks to "CO-BALLED."

Posted by: nick on October 25, 2005 7:56 AM

That's fantastic. Now can you get this guy carrying a short pencil and walking slowly across the logo?

Posted by: k_sra on October 25, 2005 8:32 AM

Despite the frame (perhaps because of it?) this is a totally excellent idea. We'll see if I can get it done . .. ...

PS: Obese wizards, obese wizards, where have I read about those . . .hmmmm. Ah, yes! Here: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0061020672/ref=pd_sim_b_4/103-9494031-5969449?%5Fencoding=UTF8&v=glance

Posted by: cedrictheblack on October 25, 2005 10:03 AM

Didn't terry pratchett's novel's include stories about obese wizards?

Whooo hoo another excuse to write something I should've writtent, and mailed to publishers weeks ago...

Posted by: Opopanax on October 25, 2005 11:13 AM

Mr. Baldwin, I now have a crush on you.

Posted by: Jenni Powell on October 25, 2005 11:31 AM

I like the pudding comment especially much. I think if I do participate in this ShorStorWe I'm gonna call my main character "Excelsior Pudding."

Posted by: k_sra on October 25, 2005 11:39 AM

Psst. Jenni, he's married.

Posted by: k_sra on October 25, 2005 11:40 AM

This sounds fun. Yes indeed, I will play.

Posted by: TB on October 25, 2005 12:05 PM

Hrm. Yup, I've heard this idea before. Last year, actually:


Admittedly, nothing ever came of it, but I knew it sounded familiar to me for some reason :)

Posted by: Kristy on October 25, 2005 2:03 PM

Wow, there's a lot of hostility towards NaNoWriMo out there. I can understand not personally wanting to do it, but I don't really get hating it...of course, I personally thought it was kind of fun, in a tortured sort of way. So, whatever.

On the other hand, I think the WriAShorStorWe idea is sheer brilliance. I would just lobby for it not to overlap NaNoWriMo in future years, in case any true masochists want to do both!

Actually, I suppose a true masochist would do both--at the SAME TIME.

Posted by: no name slob on October 25, 2005 7:28 PM

You are an idiot. Lazy and dumb. Retarded. Analfabeta. Brutísimo. Pedante. Gringo huevón.

Posted by: Ana on October 25, 2005 9:35 PM

Un poco porque estoy segura que no me vas a entender, por eso te escribo en español. Para qué quieres escribir un cuento o incluso una novela si evidentemente, no tienes idea de lo que esto significa. Podrías comenzar por aprender a LEER y luego tal vez (aunque lo dudo) después de 80 años podrías comenzar a hacer algunos ejercicios de creación literaria.


Posted by: Ana on October 25, 2005 9:39 PM

Actually, I spent nearly three years in Bolivia as a Peace Corps volunteer and can speak Spanish fluently. But nice try, there, champ.

Posted by: Matthew on October 25, 2005 9:44 PM

analfabeta. thats a neat word. like not-a-b, like ya dont know your a's and b's... thats cool.

and gringo huevon.. thats like green eggs, sorta.

i remember when columbus came ashore he had this whole ritual where he carried on about this new land and what it meant and who he claimed it for, etc.. but of course, no body here understood his european crap... just out there talking for his own satisfaction. ana reminds me of that. but in this case of course shes carrying on in a medium that has translation tools like babelfish and carrying on about the subject's illiteracy while avoiding the obvious route to being understood. unless matt and ana are buddies and this is a paly-paly type thing, but i'm thinking not...eh?

Posted by: powers on October 26, 2005 7:22 AM

//Actually, I spent nearly three years in Bolivia as a Peace Corps volunteer and can speak Spanish fluently.//

Hehehe. Ana got owned!

Posted by: k_sra on October 26, 2005 10:14 AM

Thanks for the heads up k_sra. It won't be the first time a crush has gone unrequited.

Woe is me.

Posted by: Jenni Powell on October 26, 2005 2:16 PM

Do we get pudding if we win?

Posted by: Marlespo on October 26, 2005 3:29 PM

How about fan fiction? (runs away before anyone can hit her)

Posted by: Catherine Cook on October 26, 2005 6:40 PM

i love it!

Posted by: vicki on October 27, 2005 4:19 AM

I think Catherine Cook is on to something -- my guess is the field of Matthew Baldwin fan fiction is largely untouched.


Posted by: G. on October 27, 2005 10:03 AM

I call dibs on writing the definitive Defective Yeti / Star Trek crossover, wherein it is revealed that not only is the Squirrely one of Q's relatives (and thus actually *can* levitate unaided), but all of those people Matt overhears on the bus saying bizarre things are in fact sinister Romulan spies. And the Queen invents transparent aluminum. Or something.

Posted by: Jake Boone on October 27, 2005 12:36 PM

OK, my Spanish is mighty rusty (please correct me where I'm wrong folks) but it looks like Ana's mad that the rules want writing in English, because Ana writes in Spanish. And then gets insulting.

Gee Ana, I'd think the complaint would be more relevant in a language you thought your audience could read! While Matt obviously can read your comment that was a really great way to be a nit picker.

Have trouble winning arguements that aren't stacked in your favor? Sheesh.

For the record, any contest like this has rules, a set of common elements to allow those who participate to compete on a level field so that their talent will differentiate them.

Submit in Spanish, go ahead. But don't expect to win. Maybe you can get the best foreign language award, like at the Oscars.

I'm not knocking your ability to write- haven't read any so I can't judge, but neither are the rules truly discriminating against you. But if you want to showcase original writing in Spanish (which I think you should!) then there needs to be a forum to do that from. This may not be the spot for that.

Posted by: cedrictheblack on October 27, 2005 1:39 PM

Well slap my butt and call me Squirmy!

You're on!

Posted by: harry on October 27, 2005 11:17 PM

This is a delightful idea. I am simply one of the hundreds of readers funneled to this site from "The Morning News," but consider me signed up for WriAShorStorWe. I am no blogger, though, and cannot post my story. What do I do?

Posted by: Evan on October 28, 2005 7:20 AM

I think I might actually do this. Maybe.

Posted by: Jenny on October 28, 2005 1:57 PM

This sounds easier for me. I write a lot, but I have no clue how to put 50,000 words together in one story. I tend to write shorter ones.

Hey, do we have a nifty graphic like they do?

Posted by: Maquis Leader on October 28, 2005 5:12 PM

OMG... Finally something I can do with my Master's thesis prospectus. Thanks Matt... Enjoy reading it.

Posted by: Wende on October 28, 2005 6:28 PM

Okay... I'm ready to post... say when.

Posted by: Goldie on October 31, 2005 5:51 AM