Sunday, November 29, 2009

NaNoWriMo Redux (IOW TGIO)

Thank goodness it's over: the 50k words, at least. I have a few more scenes to finish in the draft, but that, too, is almost complete--I think writing short stories has helped me pace the story a little better, without a whole lot of floundering around trying to kill time before the conclusion. All the same, this was *not* an easy NaNoWriMo for me, and I am already thinking of throwing in the towel on next year's behalf. I think NaNoWriMo has run its course with me, and I've learned a lot through it, but it's time for us to part ways. It isn't fun anymore.

It wasn't that I had nothing to write about. I did. I had plenty of ideas. Actually, for once, I had the basic gist of the story in mind months beforehand: I started making character and plot notes clear back in June. A lot of them ended up not applying--a minor character who didn't even have a name until the last couple days of October became the female lead, and other secondary characters that were supposed to have fairly major parts slid off the screen almost immediately, but at least some elements lived on. I never truly got stuck with nothing to write next.

But I like to "remember" what I'm writing. I picture a scene, rehearse it in my head while driving or walking or lying in bed or doing the dishes until it's pretty close to right, then write it. You can't do that during NaNo. You have to just keep throwing words out. And I can't really get an entire story pictured in my head beforehand. Ever. Personalities change, or I realize the time line doesn't work (and this year's time line, simple as it was, gave me headaches), or someone needs an alibi or...something.

I wrote all throughout the year this year. Some of my writing, in my humble opinion, wasn't appallingly bad. Producing even a rough draft this thin and pale and disjointed makes me want to weep and pull my hair out. To make matters worse, I love my characters this year. I can picture them more clearly than ever before. And I let them down. I'm not sure if I can fix this story or not. I very much hope so, for their sake. I hope I can paint them as I see them, instead of the dim shadows in a flimsy shadowy world they currently are.

I did come to a new appreciation for the Alphasmart Neo--I switched to it from the wondrous Olympia SG-1 a little more than halfway through the month when it became apparent I was going to need to squeeze in more writing time, especially away from home. It had been neglected a bit this past year, but as I've said here before, it is the most practical writing implement I own. You get all the benefits of instant digital copy in a very durable, highly portable package, with instant-on, instant-save and all but limitless battery life. Someday computers may obtain those particular qualities, but for the moment, there isn't a gadget out there that completely compares. It's a very unromantic little thing, but it sure gets the job done. I'll switch to the netbook/computer for editing, but for pure writing, no current computer can hold a candle to the Neo.

Soundtrack for this year ended up being Matchbox Twenty, Ad Vielle Que Pourra, and various Harry Connick Jr. albums. There is no rhyme or reason to this. It just happens.

I should be able to finish the first draft in the next two weeks. And then, I guess I need to decide if I want to try to dive in and work on it right off, when I'm still a little jaded and a little too close to it, or put it away for a few months.

And speaking of jaded, by next fall, I may have forgotten all about this crabbiness. It was partially just a perfect storm of lack of morning writing time, colds, and life getting in the way. And maybe my story isn't so bad after all. Parts of it are pretty OK. Maybe NaNoWriMo '10 isn't *completely* out of the question. Whoa, do I have conviction or what?


deek said...

Congrats on winning!

I'm in the same boat. Won NaNo, but still have some writing to do to finish my novel. I will add that I am not trying to think about how bad my story is, I just make that a given that when the time comes to read back through it and rewrite, it will suck. With that out of the way, I can just write.

I'm not sure if I'll compete again next year (probably will, but I don't want to admit it), but I know I will be continuing to write on a regular basis. I have enjoyed the struggle, the high points and generally, just getting out there and typing.

I'm fairly certainly that after I finish this novel, I'll take a short time off and then start writing another one to get farther away from this one.

James Watterson said...

Congrats on winning as well! I am going most likely do Nano next year. My story was kind of like a Jack Kerouac story, you know, fiction, non-fiction style. Because of that when I do my second draft I am going to need to change everyones names.
But overall Nano I feel went pretty well. And man was that SG 1 a dream to type on. It was basically the one machine that got the most work done. 40,000+ I'd say.