This is not Neil Gaiman’s Gazebo

Hi, my name is Zombie Joe and I am a NaNoWriMo.

At this point hopefully at least half of the three people reading this have recited “Hi, Joe,” at least in the internal monologue, picturing uncomfortable chairs in some dingy community center with the smell of stale donuts and burnt coffee coming from the back of the room. You know, over from that folding table with the particle board chipping at the sides with that construction paper pumpkin centerpiece – to make it seem more festive.

And by this point all three of you are like shouting aloud to your monitors, “What the hell does this have to do with Neil Gaiman’s gazebo?” Welcome to the blunderbuss that are my thought patterns every November. Now in case you have not seen it yet, you might want to check out Doyce Testerman’s blog on You Do not Need Neil Gaiman’s Gazebo – it’s really quite good. If you are too lazy (or like me have not finished your first cup of coffee for the day) then here is the general idea:

Anything that causes you to procrastinate and draws time away from writing is the same as building Neil Gaiman’s gazebo. And – while awesome – you fellow aspiring author – do NOT need Neil Gaiman’s gazebo.

I suppose there’s a reason that this comes on the day that it has. My first attempt at NaNoWriMo failed due to my uncle passing away. I was the driver from Wisconsin to Butler, Pennsylvania for my parents, an aunt and I believe my sister. eleven and a half hours there (thanks to getting lost in the middle of fucking nowhere Pennsylvania) and ten and a half hours back. I tried writing between the various family responsibilities, the only thing I managed to do was place one of my cousin’s kids in the story as a victim in effigy for giving me crap about how beat up my cell phone was. Once back, my mind was filled with thoughts of how I both hated and admired military funerals at the same time. All of this shortly after Veteran’s Day and smack in the middle of crunch time for NaNoWriMo. That was not my gazebo.

This year my obstacles are a bit more spread out. There are more of them, but they are more things that are under my control. More of the problems I am facing I can eliminate through force of will alone. That’s assuming that I can identify them.

A friend invited me out to sushi tonight. I love sushi and am not asked out very often for it. I don’t suggest it as my wife doesn’t like sushi. One of the people in my critique group was invited as well. This would be my gazebo. I am going to need to contact them today and let my friend know to definitely let me know next time, but I am to far behind in my word count to come out. It is to easy to say I can catch up on Sunday, even though I am going to Murder and Mayhem in Muskego this weekend.

Murder and Mayhem in Muskego is not my gazebo. It is a chance for me to sit in on panels and talk about writing, mysteries and have conversations like, “Well, the funniest autopsy I ever saw was…”* Also it gives me a chance to get my book signed by Kat Richardson, who I haven’t seen since Romantic Times this year. This event will make me feel more connected to the writing community and likely get me wound up enough that I’ll have to write before going to bed.

Running D&D Wednesday Night Encounters over at Misty Mountain (a game store owned by a friend of mine) is totally my gazebo. Steve, I’m sorry, but your store is totally a gazebo. That said, I am not going to ask someone else to take over running it for the month. It is two hours of my week and it allows me to keep in touch with some friends I normally wouldn’t. So while it is a gazebo, I am not going to be leaving it any time soon.

The Sunday Night gaming group is my gazebo. Even though we switched to Gamma World this month instead of D&D (as Gamma World is easier for me to prep), I still make a batch of cupcakes before the game which takes up a chunk of my Sunday. Of course this is the only time I see most of those friends and while the game is my gazebo, my friends are not. But that leads into another one…

Walking Dead is my gazebo. I mean come on, my online name is Zombie Joe. Way to many of my friends actually call me Zombie Joe in real life. At Wizard World Texas I was introduced to everyone as Zombie Joe. There’s really no way I am not watching this show. I’ve already picked out the piece of Adler art I would like to buy if I sell a story for a big enough payday. This show is entrancing and is totally my gazebo. And my wife thinks my gazebo is gross but still watches it with me.

NaNoWriMo Write Ins. This one might ruffle a few feathers in the local “Nano Community,” but the write-ins are my gazebo. Thought they don’t have to be. If I am doing word wars with people or bouncing ideas off of someone to get it clear in my head where these characters think they’re going, it is not my gazebo. If I am just casually doing “public authoring” around others doing the same, I can have problems staying focused and my word count suffers. So – while it is a small gazebo – the write-in can turn into my gazebo.

The Resolution

Here I sit in Cool Beans, the coffee shop near my condo – my literal gazebo as this is where I come to write. In front of the gas fireplace I sit in my Polynesian-looking shirt I bought before Romantic Times this year, my Marvel heroes shirt under it peeking out from the open overshirt, and I am clearing my mind of these non-story thoughts that are clogging up my brain. Easier than working through the death of someone close, but still something that needs to happen for the story to continue.

Family and Friends are not my gazebo as they are my support system that keeps me writing. If I have to pay for this with a game of Gamma World or two, then so be it. Of course that doesn’t mean I can justify sushi tonight – no matter how much I want to.

Of course I still haven’t determined what I’m going to do about deer hunting this year. I am writing about it, but I’m not feeling it in my bones like I usually do. Of course I have nearly the full week off and could really use getting out into the woods. Hunting doesn’t have to be my gazebo,but if I do it the whole week that will take up all of the vacation time I am using for catching up. I might have to limit myself to opening weekend again – or decide to write any time I’m not sitting with a loaded weapon in my hand.

And finally, before leaving the condo this morning, I grabbed a piece of poster board from my gaming supplies and brought it with me to make a NaNoWriMo sign for going to the write-ins. I am seriously considering adding “this is not a gazebo” to the sign as a signal for sitting near me will mean word wars. Don’t worry, I’m not doing slapbets this year. And yes, I do realize that this is the act of scavenging the materials from one gazebo to build another one.

Humor me, everyone has their own process.

Wrapping up I am noticing that I have put down almost 1400 words and none of them have been in my story. All of them have been about one gazebo or another – either physical or mental construct. 1400 words and I am still behind in my word count, but my path is more clear than it has been all month. 1400 words and 26 of them were gazebo. Shit, 27.



[*denotes an actual lunchtime conversation at a writers conference]


3 thoughts on “This is not Neil Gaiman’s Gazebo

    • I have “won” a couple of times. This year’s goal was 90k. I am revising it to a workable story. I don’t care when it’s done, just complete and edited into something that I can submit.

      But thanks, I think this might be my year. See you at the finish line. 😉

  1. Ha! Your attempt to invite me into your Murder and Mayhem gazebo has failed, Sir Zombie.

    I write lighthearted fantasy. I am immune.

    (The Teslacon gazebo was quite lovely, though)

    I’m afraid that write-ins would become a gazebo for me rather than a productive time – and that the monetary expense on drinks in a coffee shop would start to feel like I was paying for a gazebo.

    (gazebo is a ridiculously fun word, don’t you think? I can’t read or write it without thinking of the famous Eric & the Dread Gazebo, though >> )

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