I bet you’re wondering why I’ve been so silent here (actually, I’d put money on the fact that that thought hasn’t even crossed your mind!). It’s because I’m trying to participate in NaNoWriMo, or, as it’s know in complete English, National Novel Writing Month.
I’ve signed up for the event in past years, but I only half-heartedly participated. This is because I knew that fast writing—50,000 words in one month, or about 1600 a day—just wasn’t my style. I plot as I go, and spend agonizing hours trying to figure out what happens next in my book. Will the characters fly to London? Will they go to dinner? Will they confront a thief? Will they have to deal with an incident at their child’s school? Is Grandpa gonna die?
So, while writing fast is theoretically easy for me—I’m typing this blog post in about five minutes—I can’t plot fast, thus, my writing is slow as that proverbial molasses. (Or treacle, if you’re British.)
I wish I could say that this time around, NaNo is working the way it’s supposed to, as a jog to creativity, but no, I haven’t suddenly discovered a way to regurgitate 1600 words a day with ease. However, NaNo IS working for me this time, although not the way it was intended. I’m finding the support from my NaNo buddies, who are checking in with each other on a private Yahoo group we belong to, to be invaluable in motivating me to press ahead. (I found the group here, at Outreach International RWA chapter.)
Before NaNo, there were days when I let the inertia build and build until writing anything was simply impossible. I was paralyzed with fear, fear I’d write the wrong thing and then OMG I’ve written the WRONG words and the WORLD WILL END or at least my novel will end badly. Now, I just ignore that voice telling me I’m writing the wrong thing, sending my characters in the wrong direction (yes, literally, London) and keep writing something. Not much—I’m only averaging about 500 words a day, with some days’ word count topping 1000, and other days equaling zero. Yet when I’m not actually writing—that is, most of the time—I’m thinking about the book, rearranging scenes in the running timeline (sort of like a half completed outline) and trying to figure out what is needed to fill in holes in the plot.
Yesterday I re-read what I’ve written so far (this is a book I’d started a long time ago, and already had around 35k words) and that gave me a better idea of where the book was going, and what sort of scenes it needed. While reading (and jotting notes) took most of the day, the time was well spent.
It’s hard work. This book is probably one that’s above my pay grade—I don’t have the skills, as a novelist, to weave together such a complicated plot (and sub-plot, which contains several other POV characters). It’s a more mainstream book—at least that’s how it’s presenting itself, and I will be as surprised as anyone at how it turns out.
So, my NaNo progress is much better this year, but I have to credit the encouragement I’ve found among other writers, and my reluctance to admit to having written absolutely nothing each day. NaNo’s word count calculator (a really nifty tool) tells me I’ll be finished, at this rate, with this novel on February 3. I’d love more than ANYTHING to finish by February 3, so if you don’t see me here until then, you’ll know what I’m doing.
That’s right, I’ll be killing Grandpa, on the way back from London.
Happy writing, and best of luck to my fellow NaNo-ers.
Samantha Ann KingNovember 19, 2013 at 2:40 pm (10 years ago)
I tried Nano last year and for the first time was paralyzed with fear. Stopped writing until it was over. Won’t do that again.
Kathryn BarrettNovember 19, 2013 at 3:34 pm (10 years ago)
Samantha, I’m pretty much like that all the time anyway–paralyzed with fear. So I have nothing to lose!
Samantha Ann KingNovember 19, 2013 at 4:13 pm (10 years ago)
Yeah, I don’t know if that was a coincidence because now it happens about once a week. Fortunately, it only lasts a day.
AshleyOliviaNovember 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm (10 years ago)
I’ve never written creatively (except for a few attempts in junior high where my protagonists had names like Antoinette, possessed violet-colored eyes, and only wore spaghetti-strap tank tops–I thought spaghetti-strap tank tops were the height of sexiness at the time), but I’m surprised how similar the dissertation writing process sounds to writing a novel. I’ve managed to get a lot done this semester, but only because my second reader is the very best: I go sit in her office every week and make her tell me what to do next. Thankfully, I don’t have to decide if grandpa is going to die on his way to London; I just have to figure out if this author is indeed satirizing Queen Caroline in this text, etc.
I have a built-in Nano buddy system in my cohort, but as encouraging they are, the group can also be unintentionally discouraging when everyone is more productive than you are!
Best of luck on your new novel, Kathy! I can’t wait to read it.
Kathryn BarrettNovember 19, 2013 at 4:31 pm (10 years ago)
As difficult as I find writing fiction, I think I’d prefer it to writing a dissertation. Unless I were writing about something as interesting as you are–history is just like stories that were real.
I always wondered about violet eyes…has anyone ever actually had violet eyes?
Thanks for the best wishes! I can use all the luck I can get. Same to you with the dissertation.
Samantha Ann KingNovember 19, 2013 at 6:12 pm (10 years ago)
Supposedly, Liz Taylor’s were violet.
Kathryn BarrettNovember 19, 2013 at 6:45 pm (10 years ago)
Oh, I’ve heard that too. I’ll have to examine a photo of her. I think if I ever had a character with violet eyes she’d have to be an alien!
Samantha Ann KingNovember 19, 2013 at 10:14 pm (10 years ago)
Every time I see a photo of her, I try to see it, but I don’t.
AshleyOliviaNovember 20, 2013 at 10:38 pm (10 years ago)
The nifty thing about dissertations (and critical writing in general) is that you occasionally get to insert nice, long quotes which make you feel better about your overall word count.
Samantha is right; I got the idea for violet eyes after reading about Liz Taylor!