Off like a herd of turtles in a pot of glue.

As my girlfriend will tell you, I am pokey. My son is pokey. When you want to go anywhere, it always takes us a bit to get going. My dad used to say, “And we are off like a herd of turtles in a pot of glue.”

That is how I feel about NaNoWriMo this year. Last year, I came out of the gates swinging, knocking off three or four thousand words a day like a machine. But, of course, last year I didn’t have grad school. Last night, essays by Aristotle, Leo Tolstoy, and John Hosper. Today, a defense of James Joyce’s “The Dead” as a fantastic work of art. Tomorrow, Alice Munro’s “Love of a Good Woman,” read, study, and analyze.

When am I supposed to write again? And of course, I have my son full-time, rather than half-time like last year.

As of writing this, I am sitting at 4800 words. I am hoping that by the time this post goes live, I will be over 6000. Far off last year’s pace, but pretty good, considering all I have going on.

It has been going well. I started with nothing more than a cool name for a book, “Heaven’s Edge.” Since then, it has evolved to be a hardboiled dystopian story starring a private investigator that is a throwback to Dashiell Hammet, Raymond Chandler, and Mickey Spillane. ¬†First-person narration Lots of witty sarcasm. Short sentences. Set in a futuristic dome perched above a smog-blanketed Earth.

It has taken me a bit to isolate the voice from my usual style, but I think it has a chance to be a lot of fun. I don’t have any sort of plan. Bad things will happen to lots of people, and we will see who is left standing.

Hopefully, in the end, I will be left standing with a finished novel. So far, my morale is intact, even with feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Jack Campbell, Jr. is a dark fiction writer in Lawrence, KS. His writing has appeared in various venues including Twenty 3 Magazine, Danse Macabre, and Insomnia Press. He writes about reading, writing, and life on his blog at

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