So…I did it. I managed to “win” NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for those that are not writer-geeks). My official count was 50,018 words for the month (see my earlier post of squee…). This was in spite of:
- A week-and-one-half long visitation by the parents-in-law…which was great, but not inducive to solitary writerly pursuits…
- The Thanksgiving holiday…again, great fun, but not a good time for sitting alone pounding out words…
- General mental malaise on my part…just been in kind of a funk of late. And not the kind that George Clinton can be held responsible for. No explanation as to why. Brain chemistry…whatchagonnado?
This year’s experience was a bit different than last year’s. I wasn’t nearly as socially active with fellow NaNo-ites this time around. Not that I was a social butterfly last year, but I did participate in a write-in or two. This year…not a single group activity. As to an explanation, please see the list above. I did tweet a bit with some and checked the message boards from time to time. And the folks that participate in this event are, as always, a great and mightily inspiring bunch. But, well, I just played hermit this time.
Another difference was that last year I really did write at least every other day–or at least three days a week. This time…not so often. I got in about 24,000 of my total in a four-day push at the end. It was hard work, but it did get me to the end. I was really sweating it until that last weekend. I followed one guy on-line that got in that many words in like a day, maybe a day and a half. Amazing.
Like last year, I didn’t actually finish the story, but met the word count. However, unlike last year’s entry (a weird little novel I had called Better Angels), I will be returning to this year’s entry. It’s actually a follow-up to my gaming group’s decade-long campaign…a kind of epilogue for their long-played and beloved characters. I can’t not finish it. They won’t let me. There was talk of water-boarding and Yanni. They can be very persuasive.
I think I learned a bit about actually creating a novel this time around. I usually work in short stories, so a novel has always seemed very “next phase” for me. Something to try when I’m a “real” writer (whatever that is).
It’s not that I think short stories are a lesser form, but, for me, they seem easier to tackle. Not quite as complex. Of course, the trick of the short story is to have a point and get to it. Thus, I have a short story that has turned into a novella on my back-burner. This has taught me that some stories just aren’t short and some, to be told well, need room to grow. And some “stories” are merely ideas…not tales, not narratives. These are the short stories that often need the most work. But I digress…I was talking novels.
For this work, I was working with an established world with lots of back story and “history”. That helped a lot. I was also working with characters that I feel like I knew pretty well. But one thing that I found in writing this follow-up was that what I thought of as a single work was actually two different things. I wrote epilogues for the characters (the “what-happens-next” narrative) and then I started writing a whole new story starring their older selves. Instead of combining them into a single narrative, I think I will need to separate them into the epilogue and the actual novel. I can then take the later story and make it much deeper and more complex. Plus, I need a good villain.
The point is, at the end of the process, I finally began to think a little like a novelist. And that, for me, is kind of exciting.
Despite the various set-backs and stress, I still enjoyed the experience and, at this point, plan to do it again next year. I’m also hoping to have actually completed this novel by that point and that it will be a suitable gift to my players who worked hard to create such an enjoyable roleplaying experience. They deserve my best effort in return for theirs.
Pingback: A Bit of Self-Indulgent Navel-Gazing « Serial Distractions