Yep, this is about NaNo, the National Novel Book in a month. Thousands try, only a few succeed. And all of us end up with sore wrists, sore elbows, and a fresh respect for those authors who do this every day. We also learn a lot about ourselves and our writing. Sure, some writers turn out thousands of words each day. Good words, well thought out and part of good books. So for them NaNo’s suggested goal of 1,667 words per day would be holding back their progress.
There are other writers, though, who worry over every word put on the page. They debate between mauve and lilac for the heroine’s scarf and rework the scenic descriptions until they exceed travelogue detail. For them, NaNo is writer torture, and probably not a road they could travel without great distress.
Then we have those of use with vivid imaginations and what we know are wonderful story ideas. We’re convinced this is going to be the best and brightest and most exciting book ever. At least that we’ve ever written. And we’re willing to delve deep, write for long hours to reveal that book.
So we start the week before, plotting and planning. Fingers poised at the stroke of midnight November first, we begin the mad dash to accumulate words, piling scenes on top of scenes and in the process
beginning to realize maybe we weren’t quite as ready as we thought we’d been to write that perfect book. But that’s okay, we’re keeping up our numbers and sticking with the scene plan. We’ll just need a bit of polish. We can handle this. We stock up on coffee and ignore the growing mountain of dishes at the side of the sink. December first seems further away than ever, yet not far enough since that last scene just went badly south.
Then somewhere along the way we come to the conclustion we’ve totally lost the thread of the book. Or
as happened to me, my macho Alpha maybe a bit too overbearing hero just plain did not fit. Not only that, but he has **gulp** feelings. Sure he’s been through ten kinds of misery in his life, but the thing is he has been through it and he’s come out the other side stronger and more in touch with what really matters. Which is fabulous in real life and yeah he is going to be a knock your socks off great character. But all those nifty argument scenes already written are simply not going to work and there is no way this is going to be anything cohesive in the next five to ten days.
And it sucks. Big time and without any sugar coating. Coffee just doesn’t taste as good as it did last week, and that bottle of wine is looking a bit too tempting. Not only is the hero not a stock easy to visualize brawny tough guy. But the heroine’s past isn’t as traumatic as first planned…which might have been a bit (overwhelmingly!) over the top, but seemed like it would also be a good way to gain quick sympathy for her. Cheap shot? Yeah, probably but it sounded really good during plotting time.
So, here I am with 39,000 words which I could have faked into 50,000 or more but that would have been a waste of energy not to
mention a strain on already sore wrists, back, elbows…getting old isn’t nearly as bad as FEELING old. I put the story aside, thinking about where I’d wanted it to go and trying to find something to move forward with. Scenes start to rewrite themselves in my head, some changing only slightly, others jumping off the stage entirely to be used for some other story. I’ve known the ending of this book from the first time I framed it out so long ago. And I’ve known the beginning. It’s what happened it between that stopped me cold last month. But I think I’ve found a way to save what’s good and nurture it into a cohesive story. Which will give me something to do while the snow builds up outside and the temperature starts breaking records.
5 responses to “Thirty Days of Writing Dangerously”
Nice summary. And the very best of luck with that story.
Thanks! Too bad I couldn’t illustrate with colorful birds but all we have right now are ravens and fluffy pigeons
NoMo is a wondrous challenge, but the words still have lives of their own. Easier to wrangle cats.
You do have a way with words, Mona. Humorous and a sense of poignancy throughout this post. Lots to think about as the snow falls and I sit writing, difficult to concentrate as my husband begins radiation for prostate cancer. We’ve got the radiation blues.
Thinking of you on this late winter evening. Heck, it’s almost midnight!