Saturday, December 20, 2008

so, yeah... the status of novelaborate.

Yes, I actually am being serious about Novelaborate. I know posts have been infrequent but here's why: I'm marinating on some ideas and questions I have about things, before this meeting I described last post, with Emil Kang, and before things really get rolling.

A few people, via Twitter and other blogs and e-mail, have shown interest in being involved, and after a little more time spent on getting people together, we'll talk for the first time about the actual story - the writing style, the way we go about co-authoring, etc. - and start the actual project going.

So for a bit longer, sit tight. I'll try to entertain with other things, but feel free to contact me or have your friends contact me at if you or anyone you know is interested.

And happy winter solstice, everyone.

Monday, December 15, 2008

A meeting with the master awaits

So I decided I needed more help with getting the word about the Novelaborate project out.

Again, for the uninitiated, check out the first few blog posts to see how I want to get people together collaborating on one work of creative writing.

I realized a few days ago, however, that I was not taking advantage of a crucial source of advice right in my own backyard of Chapel Hill. I have contacted Emil Kang, UNC-Chapel Hill Executive Director for the Arts and head of Carolina Performing Arts. Emil is the go-to guy for most any arts related queries one might have in Chapel Hill, and an extensively knowledgeable, authoritative source for me when I worked as arts editor at the Daily Tar Heel.

So at some point in January I will be meeting with him to seek his advice on getting the word out, as well as, I hope, some advice on the project itself, be that contact information for people who would be willing to be involved or get people involved, or anything else.

I will obviously update on this afterward, and it is not for a little while longer, so sit tight, but this might be one of the best opportunities yet to get this all going together stronger and faster.


And on a side note, please check out the Web site for PoetryAssignment, located at! Contribute your poetry today! It is already becoming a great community of poets who are sharing some wonderful work!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Some word games before I make word gains (I hope)

So the other day, a buddy of mine and I were talking on AIM about word games. We are both obsessed with them, they’re super time killers, etc.

So if you’re alone in your car on the drive home from work today, or you’re in church, or at a really lame concert (actually, no. Wow - that really would have to be one hell of a lame concert), you can try some of the ones we discussed. Some require other people (you have friends, right? Isn’t that what Facebook and Twitter and blogging are for?)

a.) Try to make a sentence (or several - go as long as you can!) by having one person say a word. Whatever letter that word ends with, the next word that the other person then adds must start with the same letter.

Example that makes little sense: (You can go quickly and make it ridiculous or slower and try and make a super long sentence. Person a in bold, person b in italics, person 3 regular):

Blogging gets so overrated daily! You understand dudes seldom make even nickels starting grassroots sites, so orate elsewhere!

b.) Try this weird rhyme scheme. It is a good bit more difficult game. Start with a two syllable word. That is your first line. Then follow with four more syllables on the next line, where every other syllable matches the corresponding syllable of the first word, repeat repeat repeat. But you have to make a coherent rhyme. See how far you can go!

Another silly almost nonsensical but good enough to get the point across example: (corresponding syllables divided by / for emphasis on structure)

Mu /sic
Can you / dance, Dick?
All men / who do / wear pants / and kick

Clear? Mu rhymes with Can you, Sic rhymes with Dance, Dick
Can rhymes with all men, you rhymes with who do, dance rhymes with wear pants, and Dick rhymes with the last two words, and kick.

It can take a while, but we actually did make a really good one. Just be prepared to not end up at all how you started!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sprucing things up

I changed a few things around on the header, in hopes that pretty pictures draw more people in. More general design/layout improvement will come tomorrow, once I get a faster internet connection. (On a crappy computer at home in Raleigh right now - surfing the internet is pretty much a waste of time.)

More importantly, though, when I get back to Chapel Hill tomorrow, I'll finally be able to meet up with a few friends and get input and advice on the entire idea. And in the coming days, as I mentioned earlier, all-out publicity will begin. Like I also mentioned before, I want to be able to hit the ground running (and running hard) within a couple weeks after students get back from winter break, and that will require lots of planning in the coming days... so stay tuned, as always, keep spreading the word, and thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for your patronage...

City or State?

Here's some randomness for you, while I work on Novelaborate stuff...

After watching an intense Monday Night Football game last night (go Panthers!) I was thinking about where all the NFL teams are from. Why are some of the 32 teams representative of just a city, while others are representative of an entire state? I kind of explained it to myself this way (Keep in mind this is just the NFL... I can do other sports leagues, too, but for now, football...) :

Some states have more than one team.

NY: Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, New York Giants... You're okay.
PA: Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Steelers... You're cool, too.
TX: Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys... Fair enough.
FL: Miami Dolphins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tampa Bay Buccaneers... Gotcha.
OH: Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns... Yup.
CA: Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, San Francisco 49ers... Mmhmm.
MO: Kansas City Chiefs, St. Louis Rams... Sure. (But your state sucks this year. Sorry!)

Some teams represent major cities with large populations, so that makes sense.

Seattle Seahawks
New Orleans Saints
Atlanta Falcons
Washington Redskins
Chicago Bears
Detroit Lions
Baltimore Ravens
Indianapolis Colts
Denver Broncos...

all OK, I guess. Some are more obvious than others, though.

Lastly, some states represented have relatively small populations, or at least their major metro areas aren't as large or as well known, so one football team per state, I suppose, makes sense.

Tennessee Titans
Arizona Cardinals
Minnesota Vikings...

That's okay with me I guess. Minnesota might be iffy.

That leaves three (in my opinion) oddballs:

Green Bay
New England

And why are they oddballs?

Green Bay Packers- the only team I'd say that is supposedly representative of one city, a city which is truly small-market and doesn't, at least initially, make sense. Green Bay? Is that even the capital of Wisconsin? I didn't think it was... Or am I wrong? If so, apologies. But what's so wrong with Wisconsin Packers?

Carolina Panthers/New England Patriots- the only two teams whose supposed area of representation covers more than one state. While the Panthers play in N.C., this isn't reflected in the name. Did they think "North Carolina Panthers" would sound too weird? I guess it is a bit odd... Who knows. And then New England... well I just don't know what to make of that. They play in Massachusetts. I guess "Foxboro Patriots" just didn't have the ring they were looking for.

Anyway, perhaps this post isn't even of much value. I was just curious. And now it's official... I only have a problem with three NFL team names. Not bad, I suppose.

Maybe I'll examine the NHL next. I am a big fan after all...

Monday, December 8, 2008

#poetryassignment has a home!

Check out this sweet new Web site, courtesy of @jeffreyoyler, for #poetryassignments. I'll continue to encourage anyone who's interested to start posting their poems! We'd love to have more friends join us!

Again, each assignment, one of us picks one word, and you write a poem that has that word in it. Easy as that! So check it out!

And... more Novelaborate info to come in a few days. Keep telling friends, please!!!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Somewhat unfortunate timing. Somewhat.

I'll be getting back to Chapel Hill on Wednesday and talking with a couple folks about doing non-electronic publicity for Novelaborate (fliers, word-of-mouth, etc.). Unfortunately, it's smack dab in the middle of exam time for UNC students, after which they'll all be headed home for break. Though I am aware of the fact that there are tons of creative minds in Chapel Hill that aren't enrolled at UNC.

But after round 1, we'll wait for students to get back and do another round of publicity. I'm also trying to get English dept. professors to send out e-mails to their listservs so students can check out the blog and wiki over the winter break. I'm hoping they'll be receptive to the idea.

If anyone has any flier/poster concepts, I'd love to hear about that. I'm coming up with a few on my own. Will post pictures after they're completed.


Friday, December 5, 2008

Wiki update and #poetry assignment

So since I'm not on my own computer (haven't been for the past week because I'm at my aunt's house in Virginia); I can't download files for MediaWiki, which I've been advised is superior to other wikis and more popular. But I might switch over when I'm back in Chapel Hill. Update when possible... probably will be back home on Tuesday.

Today's #poetryassignment word is phone book:

i saw you by chance today
sipping a latte on the patio
of a tiny cafe
at 18th and main
looking as cute as i remembered you
the same red shoes i recall from before
matching your scarlet jacket
the one i got you two christmases ago
the sparkle in your eye said you liked it
when we passed by the store window that day
you sat alone
"the stranger" by camus in your hand
your expertly polished nails
flipping the pages between sips
your lipstick staining the lid
swiftly i made my way home
flurries in the air
made the landscape look
like a pristine renoir
i looked you up in the phone book
after i got to my humble apartment
and draped my green sweater
across the back of the couch
to see if by chance you were listed
i found you
i wish i had the nerve to call...

i hope that's not too cheesy?

oh and here's @coderster 's
Heather's poem here
Phil's here

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wiki = up and running!

Hey everyone (I feel like I can assume more than one person has dropped by? I hope? :-D),

As promised, I looked into some wiki sites today, and found ZohoWiki - a seemingly user-friendly, reasonable one to use for Novelaborate's purposes.

Check it out here! I have a test page up if anyone wants to just mess around or say hello or whatnot.

Obviously, this is where most of the creative process will happen. And once that starts, this blog will be more of a home base for discussion; a headquarters if you will. And I'll try and keep my personal stuff to somewhat of a minimum at first, to stay organized, but as you can see, I like to post some writings like #poetryassignment stuff.

So, yeah, go wild! And start to recruit people (or start, if you're just coming by for the first time)!




#poetryassignment - Again, today's word is cathedral. see if you can figure out what I'm referring to before you get to the last two lines.

inside the air is cold
where once the prayers of many rose
now silence, sacred silence
where once the holy beads of water purified
now dry and dusty, unforgiving
the smoke plumes all around
the shriek of jets, the thud of bombs
no longer piercing the air
but still piercing the memories
the city surrounding still ablaze
but the cathedral
the steeple, still standing upright
for all teary eyes to pay homage to
still rising above the ashes
and soon the citizens
steadfast and hopeful, prayerful still
the flock, they will return
st. paul will guide them
as he always has

(Still not sure? Perhaps this famous photo will jog your memory!)

Check out Melissa's poem here!
here's @coderster 's poem (what's your real name?! :D)
Phil's is here
Heather's is here

Oh, and re: Novelaborate - as promised, more news on a wiki will be posted this evening. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wiki? Wiki. Wiki!

Many thanks for Mr. Jensen/Buckley for the comment on the first post. I saw a tweet of his earlier (you can follow him - @firemeboy) and realized that a wiki would be of utmost importance for this collaborative process.

I'm extremely occupied with a short story of my own at the moment (I had fits and fits of inspiration today - three cheers for sleeping in and resting the ol' noggin!), but I'll discuss the wiki idea more tomorrow. Many thanks for the concept.

And if you happen to stop by here, again, please note things are still in the publicity/recruitment status for the most part, but if you have more general ideas (again, see Mr. Jensen/Buckley's comment on the first post re: a dinner/murder story) I'd love to hear them. For the record, I'm quite intrigued by that thought.

So, like I said, more to come soon.

Oh, and the word for tomorrow's #poetryassignment is "cathedral." - Looking forward to some poems! That's something else to get more people in on, for sure!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In the mean time...

So to pass some time before I start getting more attention, my new Twitter buddy Melissa ( told me about a series of poetry assignments that some folks are getting involved in. You base your poem off one assigned word. Today's word is salsa. So here's my attempt:

I'd never set foot on a dance floor
those shiny black shoes gliding magestically
across a landscape of puffy gowns and flashy suits...
So naturally I practiced all month long
once you invited me to your stylish soiree
and told me to bring my finest salsa...
I didn't realize you meant you were bringing chips.


here are salsa poems by: (updated)
@muttmutt (Phil)
@melissaoyler (Melissa)
@writerbenjamin (Benjamin)
@baronessheather (Heather)

check out some other examples: the previous assignment was "baseball:"
@melissaoyler 's baseball poem
and her friend's: @baronessheather

Getting the word out...

I've spent a good portion of the past day alerting folks to this project's existence on Twitter,, Facebook, MySpace, etc. If anyone knows of other social networking sites or other types of sites that might be advantageous to look into, let me know. And spread the word on those sites yourselves!

Oh yeah... so who am I? (And a couple other odds and ends)

I'm a bit forgetful, so you'll have to forgive me. I haven't even really introduced myself. I'll take just a minute to do that really quick so you can know you you're gettin' involved with here.

My name is Bennett Campbell. I would be a senior at UNC this year, but I'm taking the year off for, let's say, some perspective. I've always loved writing of all kinds - I've kept an (almost) daily journal since I was 10 years old. I wrote for my high school paper and until recently was the arts editor for UNC's The Daily Tar Heel.

I also am extremely intrigued with where people get their inspiration and, additionally, how they interact with other people. Obviously, this project is an experiment in both areas.

I currently still live in Chapel Hill, N.C., where there is an abundance of creative minds, many of whom - without even knowing it - were the inspiration for me to start this project.

Aside from reading and writing, I enjoy sports (mostly soccer and hockey), going to see movies, an excellent cup of coffee or a good beer, and myriad other things.

But that's enough about me. I just, as I said, kind of wanted to officially introduce myself as not to appear to be some far-off, inaccessible guy with an unrealistic dream. My hope is that if I can start getting to know more people and continue to interact with the people I do know already, I can get more and more people involved in this process.

A couple more odds and ends:

*If you're interested in getting the word out in large quantities, please e-mail me ( with any ideas, and we can start working out a more concrete, larger-scale method. Whether it's using listservs of various types, putting up fliers, word-of-mouth campaigns, or more unorthodox ways of publicity, I'll need all the help I can get.

*As far as a timeline: Slow and steady wins the race. I'm committed to spending several weeks (or longer if necessary, but honestly I hope its at least started to pick up by that time) getting the word out before getting too involved in the writing process. I want this to get to as many people as possible first so that everyone has input from the beginning. I've put enough thought into this project that I'm not going to be discouraged if it takes a little while to start getting feedback. Perserverance is the name of the game.

Monday, December 1, 2008

I would be remiss to leave out these details

A few bits of information that I realized I should probably share before I go to bed and set the wheels in motion for good:

I had thoughts about how to foster the growth of this project once people start noticing it:
-Online chats/forums to discuss things - Once I get people involved, I will set up a Web site to discuss every last little aspect of the story, so everyone can easily contribute. But for now, leave comments, e-mail me, MySpace or Facebook me, etc.
-Networking between contributors - once we get our army of writers/contributors, those who would like to have a method of contact to be publicized or shared will be listened to. I'll set up a list of some sort for those people so contributors can collaborate together to more easily share ideas.
-Storyboard - I'd also like to set up a thematic, well-organized place to put down ideas that people come up with. A list of ideal characters, settings, plot elements, etc. This will be forthcoming.
-Other ideas - I also think it would be cool to have a place for all contributors to share their other work - writings, published works, Web sites, blogs, etc. Inspiration can come from those places, too - it doesn't have to all be completely new ideas. I'm sure there's already loads of great stuff out there that can be taken into consideration.

Seeking Inspiration

Where will this start?

If you, or a friend, or a brother, or an in-law, or a boss, or a philosophy professor, or a former gynecologist - anyone - has ever wanted to write a story, or has ever started to and not finished... it can all start again here.

I'm purposefully leaving this beginning as vague as possible.

Will this story start with a college kid forging his identity as a singer in a modern urban area? Or will it start in the impoverished city streets of 18th century France? Or perhaps it'll take a more comical tone? That is up to everyone to decide.

Where do you want it to start?

So for now, I'm going to stop typing. It might take a couple days to get the word out, to get contributions. It might take a few weeks. But I want to make it work.

So get the word out! Contribute yourself! See what kind of collaboration we can bring about!

Post this blog on MySpace and Facebook! Tweet it! Email your friends! Write the URL on a bathroom stall! Text your friends! Do what you can!

And as far as leaving contributions:
-Comment on this blog!
-E-mail me at
-Find me on Facebook (Raleigh/Durham, NC network) or MySpace (

Let's see where this starts!

The Preface

So what exactly is going on here?

Well, an amazing story is about to be written. But not just by one person. Not just by me. By you. By your friends. By anyone else who stumbles upon this place here. This is an idea I've been hatching in secret for quite some time now. I was never in a position to carry it out... until now.

I won't claim to be the first to try this. I honestly don't know if it's been done before. But that doesn't really matter. What matters is that it's going to happen here. We're going to write a book together. Well, I suppose I'll be writing it, but it's going to be a collaborative effort. (Hence the name - Novelaborate.) And this is how I envision it working:

For the time being, until I get some publicity (we are kind of starting from the ground up here, after all), this will, I think, progress somewhat slowly. But that's where you come in. It's up to you, and to me as well, to spread the word. I'm going to be looking for inspiration. Looking for:

-Plot Keywords
-Any other idea I can solicit

You might have some questions right about now, and I'll do my best to answer a few of what might end up being frequently asked questions:

Why are you doing this? Will it work? - I'm doing this because every writer draws their inspiration from outside sources in some manner. I'm simply making that connection - the connection between the inspirational sources and the one technically doing the writing - much more explicit. It will work as much as people allow it to and encourage it to.

How long will it take? - I'm not sure. Like I said earlier, it will be slow starting probably. But once the word spreads and the inspiration comes in faster and stronger, things will inevitably pick up.

How much are you leaving up to your contributors? - Well, just about everything. Like I said, I'll be looking for character ideas, settings, plot ideas, and everything of that nature. Obviously I'll kind of be stringing everything together, but by and large this will be the product of many authors and sources of inspiration.

What will be the format? - This is still being fleshed out, and it will depend a lot on feedback. But my thought was that after getting a significant enough base of material, I'll write a "chapter" or a segment and post it on this blog. Then, based on what I post, people can continue to guide the story. Twists and turns and the progression of the story will come as time goes on. And if a lot of people think what I post is crap, then I'll ask them how I should change it, to a certain degree. I must confess therefore that I'll have a slightly larger amount of artistic control than any one future contributor, but not by much.

What is your goal? - To furnish a story that is inspiring and inspired, thoughtful and thought-provoking. And fun, of course! This will be fun and creative and something to behold. The goal is not to publish anything. The goal is not to have x number of pages by a certain date. The goal, quite simply, is to bring together as many creative sources as possible and see what comes of it.