Monday, November 18, 2013

NaNoWriMo 2013: Past the “Halfway” Point

Redwood in the Stout Memorial Grove

…and my word count is ZERO.

That’s right, goose egg.  Nada y nada…

So I should be in a state of panic, flailing through the murk and mud of desperation, frantically flinging that mud at a blank page just so I have something that just might stick, right?

imageWrong.  Because, so far, NaNoWriMo 2013 has been a success for me.

How can this be? 

Well, it is a success because it is accomplishing its goal; it has me thinking about writing and the writing process every day.  It has taken my book out of its 11-month hiatus and put it back into the forefront of my mind, not as a “Once I get some time, and the fairies flutter, dancing through the air ‘midst the flying pigs, I will sit down and finish my book…” sort of project but as a real and active project that requires scheduling and thought and work and sacrifice of sleep and a revision of other goals to happen.

NaNoWriMo 2013 has been a success for me, so far, because it has allowed me to do these things and to, therefore, be a writer again for the first time since early December 2012. 

Unfortunately, because of that 11-month hiatus, my writing process does not allow me to dive immediately right back into writing on this novel.  Sure, I could review my outline and notes, re-read the last 20 pages and dive in, but I know that the inconsistencies this would create within the draft would take more time to hammer out later than it is worth, and there is always the danger that some of those continuity errors, from style to major plot points, might survive through to later drafts, so I’d rather take the time to do this right, and that means reading before writing.

And I have been reading, so I can say work on the novel has resumed, which is a very exciting thing for me.  Plus, the process of reading is getting me fired up to do some writing, hopefully very soon.

So I should end November with some points on the board, though it may be nowhere near 50K mark.  But this is okay.  As I wrote at the beginning of the month, my goals are different this year.

And so far, considering my personal goals for this year, I feel that this has been a very successful NaNoWriMo for me, even if my word count is still at zero. 

It has been a struggle, though, to start building the habits I’ll need to see this project through to the end.  Working on my novel every day?  Not even close, yet, but I am getting closer.  It is a process and, like I mentioned before, it involves scheduling time and revising goals in other areas of life and it involves making a few sacrifices, not only in the sleep department.  But it is a win, so far, because, for the first time in a long time, I am doing these things instead of thinking about doing these things or, my favorite cop out, trying to do these things and failing.

As for the novel itself, there is a lot to be gained from reading it after such a long break.  I remember the broad strokes but not all of the details, and this break has really allowed me to see the text with fresh eyes, seeing where my backstory is clear and where it needs to be fleshed out more, what details are redundant and can be trimmed and which need to be emphasized a little bit more.

Overall, I am pleased with the way the narrative is holding together, though some structural concerns I’ve had since early November last year will need to be addressed in the next draft. 

To be sure, reading and editing are considered mortal sins in NaNoWriMo, and I’d be crazy to do much editing at this point in the draft anyway, so I am limiting myself to some light red inking and the occasional sparse note.  If I am not careful, I could easily get lost in the lotus fields of endlessly tweaking the first chapters and never finishing a complete draft, and this is a trap I know not to fall into at this point in my development as a writer.

Moreover, what this process is giving me is not only the desire to see the first draft through to the end, but to also get started on the rewrite pretty darn quick when I am done with the first draft.  I do not believe, due to that 11-month break, that a normal incubation time will be needed between the first and second draft because I’ve had a year break already on the first 86,000 words. 

My eyes and ears are clear and ready to work and I am excited to see what this will look like when it is done, hopefully much sooner than later.  And if it were not for NaNoWriMo 2013, I am not sure that the end would ever arrive.  For that, I am very thankful.  Regardless of how much actual writing I accomplish by the end of the month, I already consider 2013 a personal win because I am working on writing once again, and since I am working, reaching the end of this novel is actually possible now.

I’ve got two novels already, for various (and valid) reasons, laying half written on the dust heap.  It would break my heart to add a third…

Of course, for this year to truly count as a win for me, with my personal goals, I have to keep working on this novel past the end of November, through December, and on into and through 2014.  So, unlike most people, I will not know if I have “won” NaNoWriMo 2013 or not on December 1.  It will take some time to tell whether or not I’ve met or exceeded my November goals, and that is my challenge this year.

Zero words, no problem.  So far, so good, though, and I am making real progress towards accomplishing my November goals.

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