October has been a crazy busy month for me. During the previous two months, which were slightly less crazy, I spent some time poking at a novel I’ve technically been working on for a while, and getting hung up on–well, not minor issues, actually, but dithering over things that can be fixed in subsequent drafts (and there’s nothing that can’t be fixed in subsequent drafts), as well as rewriting and rereading the first 10,000 words more times than is good for me.
So. I’ve got to move on, you know? And NaNoWriMo is just around the corner (that’s National Novel Writing Month, although it’s actually quite international in scope, so by rights it ought to be called InNoWriMo, but whatever), so I decided, for the first time ever, that I’d sign up for it, force myself to stop fussing over issues large and small, and try to crank out another 50,000 words, producing a really crappy first draft which I can then start to shape into something that doesn’t mortify me.
I’m not daunted by the idea of writing something novel-length. I’ve written one novel which has its problems but is not awful, especially as a first effort, and I’ve written a couple of drafts of about 3/4ths of a second novel, which I fortunately realized was disastrously bad before I attempted to inflict it on anyone else. (No, seriously, it was–I’ve been at this for a while and I know the difference in “disastrously bad” and “my brain is playing the usual tricks on me to keep me from finishing this,” and this was definitely disastrously bad. Its core idea is kind of interesting, and I might return to it again someday, and it has a few good scenes which may make it into short stories someday, but quietly euthanizing it was the most merciful end for its present incarnation.)
So, if I’m not intimidated by the idea of a novel, why bother with something devoted to hurdling that initial fear, like NaNoWriMo? Well, here’s a little secret: unlike a lot of writers, I hate first drafts. I know a lot of people love them, love the rush and the invention, and hate the revision. I’m the opposite. The joy for me comes when I’ve got a framework in place, and only then can I really start to relax and play around and get those little rushes of inspiration. The first draft is mostly just stressful.
I’d say that my first drafts are like really extended outlines, but that would imply that they make sense, which is usually not the case.
Anyway, hating the first draft is one thing when you’re talking about a short story, 3000 or 5000 or 8000 words or so–that’s something I can slog through to the other side. Plus, the giddy flush of inspiration can usually carry me through a short story draft, and if it doesn’t, if I go back and rework the first few pages a few times before moving on it’s no big deal. It’s a different matter when you start looking at 80,000 words or more. And it’s been several years since I’ve written a novel, so I am a little rusty. So I’ve decided to use NaNoWriMo to facilitate a ripping-off-the-Band-Aid approach to this. I’m just going to go at it so fast and so furious I don’t have time to think about how much I hate it and at the end of the month I hope to have around 60,000 words (roughly 10,000 I’ve got so far plus the 50,000 NaNoWriMo words) that I can actually start to turn into something that won’t embarrass me in public.
I don’t really know much about NaNoWriMo, to be honest. I haven’t had time to look around the website much but there appear to be forums and people here in Athens who are doing it, and apparently I am supposed to get writing buddies–which fills me anxiety, what if no one wants to be my writing buddy?! And update word counts. Or something. I don’t really know. Also, I am doing it wrong; you are supposed to work on something new etc. etc. and it seems there are some people out there who get all sniffy about “doing it right” but I have never gotten along well with the types of people who are sticklers for following rules, so that’s okay, too.
So. I am going to do NaNoWriMo in November and I am not going to bore people with word counts and stuff (much) if I can help it, except for there on the site. And I’m going to try to look around the site and figure out what it is I’m actually supposed to do around that place. (For example, how am I going to have time to post in forums when I have to write eleventy-billion words per day in addition to all my normal obligations?) Oh, and I’m on there under the startlingly original user name of “Lynda.” So if you are reading this and if you are a NaNoWriMo participant, um what happens next? And be my writing buddy. Apparently I need all the friends I can get.