The Portable Author Survival Kit, aka PASK, is a tool that I have found to be indispensable during this past month of wild noveling. It is a tool of my own invention, or at least my own interpretation of a common contrivance for us long distance sort of writers.
Basically, it is a document containing all the loose pieces of information regarding my novel that I will eventually need but will likely forget by the time I need to remember it. Obscure character names and their purpose for being, a detailed list of world specific slang and vernacular, and a growing list of made up alien names to steal from when I find the need to name a nameless character on the page.
Then there can be some odd plot points. Like world history to keep track of, lines of royal descent, or grand battles and the outcomes of them, and some character backstory from before they themselves were old enough to remember. All the things that cook in the back of my mind that could make convenient appearances and complications, or simple bits of intrigue that pass them by.
It is in essence, my novel light. It can run up to 14,000 words sometimes, depending on how in depth I allow myself to get. Which I have found counter productive because it is easier to search five pages of notes rather than twenty or more. But it is my novels Bible in the scary days before it comes to existence.
Also, as a sidebar, who else there is obsessively backing up their stories from NaNo? I have a copy on here, several copies that I have emailed to myself, a copy on a flash drive, and I intend to pick up a second flash drive just in case. It would kill me to have my thirty thousand words erased from existence.
Anyway, my purpose in putting in several writing days worth of effort into just to create a packet of notes is this. There may come a day where life takes over again, and knowing that I massive job search is on the horizon this could be coming sooner than I would like, and I will disconnect nearly completely from this story.
And if I let go of the thread, it is gone for good. Usually, these are the times where I end up creating a whole new story once I dain to come back to it. These packets are meant to deter that and keep a piece of the thread to find my way back once I am ready to write again. The thing is, they work too.
Well, for the most part.
The story preceding what I am working on now was very similar but again altogether different. The same people, but in different times and places doing different things. There were even different titles for the books. But what I have come to realize, after this break in the action, is that they were two separate stories of two separate groups.
While I had tried to tie the two together, they were running in opposite circles in opposite eras of this world. Which in spite of time travel being a vague possibility, it was a gap I couldn’t feasibly close. Thus giving birth to the series I am working on now.
Which brings me to today, as I write up a new updated PASK to take these changes into account. And that neat and orderly piece of me bounces happily inside my head at the thought of having a nice new crisp packet just for what I’m working on. Which if you follow my Instagram you’d see just how poor a shape the old one is in after years of being battered in all kinds of purses and bags.
Even if you are sure you don’t need to keep track of that simpleton half-brother, whatshisname, having a kit like this all nice and typed up gives you a sense of officialness. Like this is a real and viable piece of literary work, and this is your Tolkien-esque appendix. And for that reason alone, it is worth all the work I’m putting into it.