My best bloggish intentions always seem to fall by the wayside. Sometimes I have no excuses, simply failing to regularly review what I’ve been up to. Other times, things like, oh, grad school get in the way.
And sometimes, other large undertakings get in the way. Good undertakings, the sorts of things one tried for years ago and failed, but somehow here, now, the planets lined up right, and I jumped for it.
I’m writing a Thing. It feels pretentious to call it a Novel yet because it’s a heaping draft of messiness at present, but I dove into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year for the first time in seven years.
I didn’t write about it here because I wasn’t sure I’d do it. In fact, right up to October 31st, I wasn’t sure about committing to it. I hadn’t drafted an outline yet, hadn’t read enough craft books yet, hadn’t really prepared much of anything. If I waited for an outline, I’d lose the momentum of November and its accompanying deadline of 50,000 words in one month, and maybe there’d be next year, but by another year, I’d be even rustier at writing and possibly more reluctant to get back on the bike. However, what I had in mind had a pretty straightforward plot structure, and if there was ever something I could reasonably “pants” my approach, this would be it. So on the evening of October 31, I dashed out some notes for myself, and on November 1, I dove in.
I tried this once before, but it was a bad year. I was teaching and still on a semester schedule, and aspects of my life were falling apart around me. The month started out grandly, with writing being a much-needed escape, but it meandered around, and I chased myself into a corner with a plot that wasn’t driving toward a real conclusion, giving it up at about 32k words. I discovered that file recently, and it’s every bit the hot mess I remembered it being, though there are nuggets I think I could rework into something more cohesive another time.
This year has been the first November in over a decade now that I have been off of the semester schedule between grad school, teaching, and more grad school. Life’s calm these days, not thrown into upheaval by school or learning a new job. If there was a time that I had a decent shot, this would be it.
And readers, I’ve made it.
Technically, a NaNoWriMo win is 50k words. I’m there already, well ahead of November 30. The biggest hurdle to writing is ass-in-chair time, and I’ve been putting that time in every day this month, even with an election that went in an alarming direction, even around a work schedule that includes working some evenings (my prime writing time). My yarn crafting has suffered a bit in the process, but I’m crafting something else in a different medium, so I guess that’s a small cost to pay.
It turns out hitting 50k is easier than finishing a novel, because 50k has come and gone, and I’ve still got story to go especially since some of the early word count material is stuff that would’ve been background sussed out in pre-writing if I’d done it “properly” and will probably be whacked out mercilessly in revision. That’s neither here nor there, though. I’ve won the month, if not the novel yet. But I’m feeling pretty good about my chances now, and I’m requiring myself to write every single day until it’s done, which should be before the year’s end. I know there will be plenty of editing ahead of me before it’s any good, but I’ve taken a big first step.
I’m writing one of the sorts of story I want to see more of. There are other, bigger stories I want to write too, but I’m not ready for those yet. And I won’t be ready for them if I never start somewhere. So this is my somewhere. One word at a time.