It’s been a year since last NaNo, and longer still since I’ve won. This year, I’m determined to succeed. I want to write at least the requisite 1667 words per day. Per day. That means every day. I am focused. I am resolute . And I am stubborn. (Stubbornness is one particular failing that can be harnessed into a positive quality. Or so I tell myself.)
That will all fall apart in Week Two, of course. “This year, I’m going to stay ahead of the curve!” only lasts until the first day off.
One of the problems I’ve noticed in myself so far is that I want to get it right. I’ve been playing with short fiction for a long time now – and enjoying it, and I think making some good work. I enjoy the flavour of writing short fiction, the continual editing, the refinement of the prose. I write it out by hand, write it out again, transfer it to computer, editing every step of the way. That works well in short fiction. But it does not work well when you’re trying to write a novel in 30 days.
I’ve lost track of how to smother my inner editor, to keep going in the face of nonsense and bad writing. For NaNoWriMo, that’s a problem. One needs to continue on, to push through, to leave all terrible writing in one’s wake in the great journey towards December and a Finished First Draft. In editing, you might gain another 50,000 words, and lose a big chunk of the original draft in the process. But you’ll have something to work with. You’ll know what you’re doing, where you’re going, what needs to be cut and what should be expanded upon and what should move back to the first chapter and that character can be lost entirely….
I have, by the way, several pages of written notes on the world I had been building in October. Day one of NaNoWriMo, I decide it’s better to just set my novel in an unnamed city in the present. And it is better. The story works well in the present, or rather a darker, grittier version thereof. More importantly, I’m more enthusiastic about writing it now. I don’t know why it was so important earlier on to have it be somewhere more post-apocalyptic. I always run into trouble with that sort of scenario, anyway. It becomes important to me to know how all the little things that make a world run are supposed to work. Where does the food come from? What about birth control? Are there still tampons? …until I spoil the whole experience for myself.
Regardless, the novel is chugging along sufficiently so far. It’s not what I want it to be, but it’s getting done, which is the important thing. I’m working on a manuscript I’d already started; I had only managed something like 5000 words, although I loved the idea. That first 5000 words is in a particular style and relatively well-written, so in comparison whenever I find myself wanting to open that original file to check some fact or other I have to quash the desire lest the difference in style and quality stop me in my tracks. (My WriMo style is “forget it, it’s good enough, keep moving”. It is rather less… good.)
For today, a quick shout-out to my bro Raymond Chandler for giving us this timeless advice: “When in doubt, have a man come through the door with a gun in his hand.” I have used it once already. I intend to use it more.