I try to write one or two blogs every month and this one I will get in under the wire but I will get it in for November as promised and threatened. I have been writing on and off in some form for over 20 years. I have studied, avoided, loved and hated it for most of that time. I started many books, a few screen plays over those years but finished none until last year. In October 2008 I finished my first book; it was a memoir I started it in roughly 2001. It took seven years to write and more than that to live. It took a year to rewrite it over and over to make it as presentable as I could. I finished the rewriting process this past October in 2009. When the end of the month rolled around I saw November looming, I had just started a new business and had heard, new ventures take time to get rolling. I wanted to call myself forth in another way, push on a different frontier. So I remembered Nanowrimo is in November. What that stands for is National Novel Writing Month. Essentially it is a month long challenge to write a 50k, or more, fiction novel from start to finish from November 1st through November 30th. There is a website and community you sign up for and with and cheer each other on. Everyone commits to try to write a novel in 30 days of at least 50k, its nuts.
Two or three years ago one of my best friends and writing buddies did it. We have very different writing styles, as well as output, though there are some small overlaps. He is an engineer, I can talk to engineers. He is very analytical, clever and calculating. I can mostly spell those things, uh with spell check. When he writes he actually has an idea where he is heading, how to get there and how it all ends. I find this fascinating, because I never know till I read what has appeared on my screen. It’s a fly by the seat of my pants, crazy chase of thoughts like leaves in a courtyard. So my friend G signs up and does the math, something he loves, that he has to write a little over 1600 words a day and then some to hit 50k. Every single day he has to write at least that. He did it, it was painful, and he wanted to finish the story so many times but was no where near his 50k but he gutted it out. He had to learn to write sideways, and explore threads of thought and story to places he was not sure where they went. It made him anxious I think. He lost a lot of sleep because of that word count, in fact he messed up his sleep pattern for years, yesVirginiahe is a delicate flower. Bottom line he won and hit the mark. As it was always was with him I learned a lot watching him, reading his work, and cheering him on. I thought long and hard about jumping out of what was an 8 year project into something like this. I thought about it for maybe ten whole minutes. I had no way of knowing the business I had just started would build quickly and I would juggle like a mad woman all month. But hey that’s how I roll…
I signed up on 10/30/09 with little to no idea what I would write. I only had a little better idea came the Sunday the 1st and I had started writing. I was two or three paragraphs in had an idea about the main character and some of her misadventures but by the close of Sunday I had written over my word count and knew the premise of the novel. Hell it was fiction which basically was lying and I have been doing that since I could talk. How hard could it be? Let me back up for a moment, when I started my memoir years ago a good writing day consisted of between 300-500 words. I kid you not. It was a slow and painful. Part of that was I was reliving some hellish times in my life and trying to be a true to my story. Memoir is very different stuff than fiction, as I said that is just telling tall tales pure and simple. In finishing that book I got to where I could write between 2-3 thousand words a day on a good day. Though I still needed large blocks of time to do it in. Sometimes I had to go back through journals to find threads, and it was labor intensive and a birth by any other name, which makes me glad I had my tubes tied.
What I found in writing this new book was I could write fast, it was fun, dialogue flowed like crazy. I just followed a bunch of people around in my head and reported what they did. I spent at lest 2-3 hours a day with these folks. It was stressful to work the time around clients and other responsibilities but I found I could write almost anywhere. I brought my lap top to the mechanics and knocked out 2k in 2 hours waiting on my car. He was fascinated, and so was I. I had just found out who killed the upstairs neighbor! The next morning I mentioned it in before yoga to a classmate, she thought I was talking real life. I was so involved with characters and story the lines were blurring. I had to explain that my neighbor was not killed last night it was character in a book I was writing She now puts her yoga mat across the studio from me. I have always had trouble with stories in my head, or on TV and my actual existence and getting those all mixed up. Which turns out is great for a writer but makes you a nut ball in every day existence. I am guessing I won’t get the eccentric tag till I’m older, now it’s just move away and don’t make eye contact.
The end result was I wrote a 51, 057 word novel in 27 days. I was stunned and very proud of myself. In the writing of it I never went back and reread or rewrote any of it, I just went forward. Which was a tip from the Nanowrimo site; I took it and ran with it. There is a lot to learn from that. I had wished my writing friend was around to talk to during this, share it with, cheer me on, but he is long gone. I guess I am not worth the trouble, what can I say? In trying to get my daily word count I had to go back to the keyboard even when I got stuck, when it didn’t work, when it was bad. I just kept going forward with the story. Then there were other times the writing flew and I was astounded that people were saying things that I had no idea where it was coming from or how it would tie in. By people, I mean characters. They were a troublesome lot with minds of their own and big mouths… kind of like me. So I had to respect that and let them be who they were. I gave them room to go sideways and stumble, even when it looked like sometimes they were messing things up. I had to let it go, which is hard for me especially when I don’t understand. After I finish this blog I have a monster rewrite on the novel. I know it will be more fun than the last one, easier, for many reasons. One of which is that I am much better at getting out of my way than I used to be.