Sock Monkey Novel Dare # 1:  To write a novel - or complete one in
           progress - of at least sixty thousand words in one month. 

           Hmmm...Let's see.  I've been working on my current novel - Darkside - for about six months now, and have managed to amass about thirty-five           thousand words.  So coming up with another sixty thousand words in thirty days should be a piece of cake.  Yeah.  Right.  A piece of that dry, crusty, birthday cake my mom used to make for me.  You know the kind.  You hadto guzzle a whole quart of milk just so you could choke down a piece! 

Jan 1  Word count - 0. 
          I spent all day trying to create this stupid web page! 

Jan 2  Word count - 0. 
          Hey, I'm on a roll here!  My band - Chasing Trees - played again last night. We did great, but I didn't get home until about 4:30 in the moring. Conscequently, I didn't wake up today until about 1:30 PM, and spent most of the day trying to catch up on the critiques I owe.  I know, I know.  Excuses, Excuses. 
          I probably won't be able to tackle Darkside until Tuesday, which means I'm already behind in the running.  Oh well, I work best under pressure anyway.

Jan 3  Word Count - 0. 
          At least I'm consistent.  Played with the web page again.  Did some crits.  Talked to my fellow Sock Monkeys.  Had a nervous breakdown. 

Jan 4  Word Count: - 880. 
           So much for consistancy.  I dove in and started writing.  It felt good. 
           Outlines?  We don't need no stink'n outlines! 

Jan 5  Word Count - 800. 
          Hmm...I'm going to have to do a lot better than that if I want to reach 60,000.   Having a day job sucks!  Why is it that we spend the majority of our time doing something we don't want to just so that we can spend a few hours doing the things we do want to?  That's it.  It's time for a hostile take over!  Of course, I'll have to get time off work to plan it properly. 

Jan 6  Word Count - 1200 
           Not bad.  The good part is, I've got a pretty good idea what to write tomorrow.  The bad part is, I'm coming down with a cold.  Oh well, maybe if I'm lucky I'll get really sick.  Then I'll be able to just stay home and write. 

Jan 7  Word Count - 1080 
          Nuts!  I didn't manage to be sick enough to stay home from work, but I was sick enough to go and be totally miserable.  Oh well, I've got all weekend to get deathly ill.  Something to look forward to. 
          The writing's going pretty good (as long as I don't write things like "pretty good." Where has my grammar gone?).  Not good enough to make 60,000 words, but a heck of a lot better than what I managed to write for the month of December, which is zero.  Actually, with zero as the target to beat, I guess I'm not really setting my goals all that high, am I.  Still, it's the only chance I have of being an over-achiever. 
          I've decided to do a little more work on my web page--add a couple of sample chapters from Darkside, and my first work Naejin, and maybe some band related stuff; and pictures of the family.  Right now I have to go figure out a way to stop my hero from being forced to marry a troll.  Now there's something you don't hear in conversation everyday. 

Jan 8  Word Count - 0 
          I managed to drag my butt out of bed, make breakfast for the familiy, and take enough drugs (the prescription kind) to get me through the movies.  Ryan and I saw Galaxy Quest (great movie-lots of fun: I give it two opposable thumbs up!) while Pen and Chantel went shopping.  Got home, went to bed and stayed there. 

Jan 9  Word Count - 0
          Pretty much slept all day again.  Being sick is a real drag.  You'd think with all that sleeping I could at least get some good dream time in--you know, for inspiration--but zip, zero, zilch. 

Jan 10  Word Count - 0
          Hmmm....seems like maybe I'll manage to live down to my impossibly low standards after all.  I woke up today feeling--well, not deathly ill but still in the ICU.  Unfortunately for me, that's good enough for the military.  I had meetings scheduled all  morning and afternoon, so no writng there.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that tomorrow I'll be able to get some writing time in.  Of course, If I do, I'll have to uncross my fingers.  As soon as I do that, you just know something's going to go wrong! 

Jan 11  Word Count -350 
          Well, I got some writing time in, but by the looks of it, I may as well have kept my fingers cross.  Of course, the writing time consisted of 5 minutes here and there spread through out the day, but I was determined to get something down on pixels come hell or high water.  Unfortunately, I wasn't counting on hell and high water.  Who can see with all that steam?  No time to write tonight either; I have band practice. 

Jan 12  Word Count -2080 
          That's better.  I finally mangaged to scrape some time together (about 3 hours.)  It looked like the fates were conspiring against me again.  I got home from practice last night at 12:00 am, but couldn't sleep so I figured--hey, great time to write!  Just as I sat down at the keyboard we had a power failure.  I took it as a sign.  Then again, the book is called Darkside.  Anyway, I managed to lock myself away in my office for two hours this morning and an hour this afternoon.  Amazingly, the squadron didn't fall apart without me.  So let's see...that brings my total word count to...0...carry the 1....NUTS!!!  Hey, are you sure you didn't accidently tack a few extra zeros onto that dare?  How about 6,000 words in a month?  Yeah, that's better!  You're sure, eh? *sigh* 

Jan 13  Word Count - 1040 
          Not bad.  I was on a roll.  I've got band practice tonight with the Classic Rock/R&B band, so I won't have a chance to do any more writing. 

Jan 14  Word Count - 1100 
           Dumb job!  I've really got to win the lottery.  Pen's leaving for Toronto tonight to visit with her girlfriends.  They're going to hit the Casino in Niagra Falls tonight, then the ballet in Toronto tomorrow.  She's leaving right after work so it's one of those hello-goodbye, have a nice time things.  Oh well, at least I'll have some time to myself to get some writing done this weekend.  (Oh no, I've probably just jinxed that.  You hear that you fickle gods, I was only kidding!) 

Jan 15  Word Count - 1250 
          I wrote most of that in the morning.  I decided to treat myself to a movie so I went and saw Bicentenial Man.  I've always liked Robin Williams, and he didn't dissapoint me this time either.  I made a real pig of myself though:  had lunch at Taco Bell, and bought popcorn, licorice and candy at the movies, and a huge soda--which probably wasn't the smartest idea because it's a long movie.  I got home, made chicken soup from scratch, and baked chocolate chip cookies, then spent the rest of the night on the internet chatting and doing odd bits of reasearch.  I didn't get any more writing done, but it was productive none the less. 

Jan 16  Word Count - 2500 
          I spent most of the day writing, and napping, and writing, and occasionally eating.  It doesn't get much better than that.  Pen's home tonight. It seems like she's been gone forever.  Oh yeah, I finally took our Christmas tree down today! Me--procrastinate?  And you wonder why I never get anything done! 

Jan 17  Word Count  - 1000 
          Not bad.  I wasn't sure if I liked where my story was going at first.  I was almost afraid I'd have to do a bit of a re-write, and suddenly everything fell into place.  All the previous stuff that I wasn't sure of actually makes sense now!  It's amazing how that works.  It's almost as if my story knew where it was going all along.  Sometimes I wish it would let me in on the secret though--I'm getting to old for panic attacks! 
          Pen and I went to the movies last night and saw "The Talented Mr. Ripply."  It's one of those movies that you're really not sure in the end if you liked it or not.  It was a fascinating character study, and you just had to watch this guys life unravel.  It had one of those open endings though.  The kind where the movie finishes and you go...and? Then what? 

Jan 18  Word Count - 1150 
          I realised today that basically I was getting all of my writing done in about an hour and a half in the afternoon (just after I get back from the gym and before anyone figures out that I'm back in my office yet.)  If I could just scrape together three of four hours at once, I think I could really get somewhere.  I know I've said this before, but...Stupid Job!  Stupid, stupidjob!!!  Ah, to be independently wealthy...or even dependently wealthy.  I don't really care whose money it is as long as they let me spend it.  Any takers?  That's what I thought. *sigh* 

Jan 19  Word Count - 650 
          I could have written more, but I had to waste my time sitting through a lecture on the changes to the military justice system.  Military Justice--that's an oxymoron that ranks right up there with Military Intelligence.  As far as I can tell, nothing much has changed.  I'm still expected to happily follow all orders that any chuckle-head of a higher rank cares to issue.  The only difference seems to be in the case of a summary trial. (A summary trial is what you get when you weren't bad enough to warrant a court martial.)  Apparently they were seen as being unfair.  (Does the phrase "March the guilty bastard in" ring a bell.)  Now, in their infinite wisdom, the military has decided that a summary trial must be more fair, which I guess is better than "not fair at all," but still a far cry from actually being fair.  To think I had to give up valuable writing time for this.  Then again, it's almost as good as fiction.  I could never write something this warped! 

Jan 20  Word Count - 800 
          Not bad, considering I couldn't even get into my office this morning.  They were stripping, waxing, and buffing the floor.  Umm...that is to say they were stripping the floor, not waxing and buffing the floor in the nude.  Well, you know what I mean! I had band practice tonight so writing was out of the question.  On a fun note (hear that Charlie?) the OPP Special Task Forces guys have asked if I could scam an afternoon off sometime in the next couple of weeks to work with them.  The boss agreed, which only goes to show they're not all bad. Hmm...maybe I'll have to take back some of those nasty things I said about him.  Yeah, right.  Sure. 
          As for the writing, one of those neat ideas as to where the story is going popped into my head as I was working on it today.  It's always nice when my story decides to co-operate and let me in on what to write next.  It's time James met another Eternal. 

Jan 21  Word Count - 800 
          I'm just about at the end of this chapter, with a pretty good idea of where the next one is going.  I've pretty well got most of the pieces in motion for the big battle at Tae Con Ra, but of course, that's just the start.  Even though the battle will start there, I've decided that's not where it will finish.  I want the final confrontation to take place in Darkside (that's the here and now, in case you were wondering.)  I can make a lot better use of the juxtaposition between the fantasy realm and mundane everyday world that way, which is for me the most interesting and fun part of writing this.  Of course, along the way I still think I have to give the reader a clearer picture of who James is, both as an Eternal, and as a person.  I think I still need more work on the interaction between characters. 

Jan 22  Word Count - 750 
          I suppose I could have written more, but this brought me to the end of Chapter 12 which seemed as good a place as any to finish.  Besides, that way I get to start off tomorrow fresh with lucky Chapter 13!  It's funny.  Now that I'm this far into the book, I look forward to writing it everyday.  I can't wait to see what happens next.  I've realised that it's the same feeling I have when I really get into a good book I'm reading.  I'm taking this as a postitive sign. 
          Oh yeah, all you fellow Sock Monkeys--if you're reading this--UPDATE YOUR WEB PAGES!!  Marsah, Jason and I seem to be the only ones holding up our end.  (Charlie, you're excused seeing as you're at a Con and all.  But I expect a full report on your return)  Consider yourselves chastised. 

Jan 23  Word Count - 250 
          Pen and Chantel went to Oshawa early today, so I spent the day with Ryan.  We went to the movies and saw Deuce Bigalow--juvinile? Yes, but some funny bits none the less.  Sometimes there's nothing like low-brow humour to make you feel good.  You know, lots of laughs--no brain matter required. 
          Of course, by the time I got up, made breakfast for everyone(it's become sort of a tradition on the weekends) went to the movies, and took Ryan back to his mom's, the day was pretty much shot.  I managed to squeeze that 250 words in in about a half an hour.  At least it will give me a starting point for tomorrow.  Writing's great, but family comes first. 

Jan 24  Word Count - 1100 
          Work conspired against me today.  There was just to much of it to allow me any time to write.  I was undaunted though.  Okay, I got lucky.  Band practice was cancelled tonight, and Pen was sweetheart enough to allow me a couple of hours writing time.  This is one of those chapters that slow things down a bit after all the action that's been going on.  It gives me a chance to explain things  and fill the main character, James (and through him the readers) in on what's going on around him.  Charlie tells me this kind of thing is called pacing, and is convinced that I do it on purpose.  Hah! 

Jan 25  Word Count - 1500 
          I just realized today that I've only got four or five chapters to go.  I'm at about 60,000 words now and would like to tie it up at 80-90,000.  It's a good thing I have sequels planned because I'm really getting into this book.  Not that this story won't be complete in itself, it's just that the world and characters I've created are starting to take shape and opening up all sorts of possibilities.  I'd hate to have to quit just as it's getting really interesting.  I hope the publishers and readers will feel the same way. 
          Sometimes I can really see myself as a successful author.  It's such a clear vision in my head that I can't imagine how it could possibly not happen.  At other times I think to myself, "Who are you trying to kid?"  Things like this just don't happen for you.  Of course, that's no reason to give up now, is it? 

Jan 26 Word Count - 1000 
          It was a real struggle coming up with a thousand words today, but I managed.  If there's one thing this dare has taught me, it's that writing a thousand words a day is a goal I can meet every day, even with my schedule.  When I look at it that way, that's a book about every three months.  I have no excuse for not being more prolific, and if I'm serious about being a writer, which I am, I will have to stick to this schedule.  This dare has given me the discipline to do that, and writing is as much a discipline as it is talent.  Thanks fellow Sock Monkeys, and thanks to my wife, for supporting me and encouraging me. 

Jan 27  Word Count - 1200 
          The end is actually in sight.  I'm coming up to the last few chapters--the culmination of everything the book has been leading up to so far.  As usual, I only have a vague idea of what's going to happen.  No matter what else has taken place in the book so far, this part will make or break the novel.  Sheesh!  Is that pressure or what?  I only hope I don't let me down. 
          Of course when I say the end is near I don't mean that in a Jason Venter sort of way, where I'll just spit out the last 20 or 30,000 words by tomorrow.  It'll probably still take me a couple of weeks at least.  Still, seeing as I started this book back in June or something, what's another couple of weeks?  Jason, if you're reading this and you've got any extra words hanging around right now I could sure use them.  I'll even trade you.  You can  Yeah.  I hardly ever use that one! 

Jan 28  Word Count - 2000 
          Well, I've got another weekend to myself, which is great as far as writing goes, but sucks otherwise.  I'm hoping to write another 2000 words tomorrow and then again on Sunday, which should bring me in at about the 30,000 word mark for the Dare.  I know that's only half way, but I'm really pleased with it myself.  Of course, tomorrow I have band practice all afternoon, and I promised a friend of mine I'd watch his band play tomorrow night, so getting in those 2000 words could be a little work.  (Instead of the fun and games its been lately.  Hah!) 
          Someone at work the other day told me that maybe I should slow down and decide what it is that I really want, and then concentrate on that.  You know what?  That just won't work for me.  I want it all.  (Well, except for the job that I actually do have.)  I want the family time, and the writing, and the music, and the physical fittness, and the martial arts, and any other damn thing that happens to catch my interest (as often happens.)  Sure, I'm busy as hell, but so far I think I'm coping just fine.  
          As a matter of fact, the only stress I'm ever really under is the stress I feel at work when I feel the urge to tell them all to just quit wasting my time because I've got better things to do than this stupid, trivial, unimportant job.  So, until and unless I go postal or  something, this is me - Steve Perry: Renaissance Man. 

Jan 29  Word Count - 0 
          As I expected, I didn't get a word written today.  Band practice went from noon until about six, and then we all splurged and had pizza.  By the time I got home it was after eight.  I had a few things to catch up on, and then it was time to go check out my friend's band.  They were pretty good too.  They had a lot of great harmonies, and did a dead on job of some Bare Naked Ladies cover tunes.  Some of their stuff was a little weird for my taste (like playing Dueling Banjos and then the theme song from the Beverly Hillbillies back to back) but they all looked like they were having a great time, which is half the battle.  By the time I got home it was after midnight.  I thought about putting some writing time in, but figured I'd be better off getting a good night's sleep and starting fresh in the morning. 

Jan 30  Word Count - 2000 
          I got up at about the crack of noon today (if God had of meant us to see the sun rise, He'd have put it later in the day) and baked chocolate chip cookies for brunch.  After chowing down on several cookies and guzzling a can of Diet Pepsi (breakfast of champions, don't ya know) I was ready for my shower.  I threw a load of laundry in (after I had the shower--I'm not a total idiot) and then sat down to write.  
          I'm pretty happy with the way things are going, too.  New plot twists and neat ideas just keep popping into my head as I'm writing.  I love it when it works that way.  It really sucks when you have to struggle for every word, or have absolutely no idea where the story is headed.  I gave myself a break after every five hundred words and checked my e-mail (and tossed a new load of laundry in--ya gots ta have a system, ya see!)  
          My brother called, and I chatted with him for a while.  (He's a cop in Kitchner, Ontario--and no, he hasn't shot anyone yet.  I know, because I asked him.)  I was just getting to an interesting part in my story when Pen called and said she'd be home soon.  Perfect timing or what.  I got to finish at 2000 words, and I'm raring to go for tomorrow.  I just hope work co-operates and I get the time to write. To be honest, my biggest fear right now is that I'm going to tie this novel up in under 80,000 words. 

Jan 31  Word Count - 1500 
             Total Word Count for the Dare - 27,180 
          I was hoping to hit 30,000.  Missed it by that much.  The really important thing now is to maintain the pace.  Just because the dare is over, there's no reason not to maintain my 1000 word a day minimum.  YOU HEAR THAT FELLOW SOCKMONKEYS! 
          Oh, and that malarky about how I'd be raring to go today!  Pure and utter bull.  I must have sat there and stared at my screen for a good hour or so before I even got the first words down on phosphorus today.  Finally the words started to flow, and that's when it hit me.  I really can't write before at least ten o'clock in the morning.  The brain just isn't functioning--well, at least not creatively.  See, another valuable lesson learned.  
          Oh yeah, I solved the problem I had about coming in under the 80,000 word mark too.  (All things considered, it was a pretty good day for writing, I guess.)  Here I am, figuring I'm only two chapters away from the big finale and with at least 20,000 words still to go, when I realised that it wasn't really the big finale after all.  It was a mock finale.  Things really fell into place after that, with a couple of new plot ideas and twist and turns almost begging me to consider them.  I love it when it's this easy.  It's almost as if my story has decided to give me a bit of a sneak preview, just so as I wouldn't worry.