I’m doing NaNoWriMo again this year. For those who may not know, it basically means that I’ll be one of thousands of deranged lunatics… um, writers who will be attempting to churn out a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and 31st.
Yes, I know.
The sad part is, this is the fourth time I’m attempting it, and I’ve yet to finish one (My count is 34,000 words, then around 5,000, then 2,000). I skipped it last year because some some reason I can’t quite remember. Oh, I think I had a trip to India back then and couldn’t even get the laptop to start up, let alone stay on long enough to type some prolix gibberish.
I can tell you right now, this is going to be a hard NaNo. It’s quite a hard task as it is — even more so if you’re doing anything else at the time; if you do the 2,000 word-a-day average it takes to safely finish it at a steady pace you need to put aside a good three hours a day. Sure, you can sort of cheat by just typing whatever the hell you want with no plot, no coherence, and no thought, but for me the process of writing has always been one where plot and story come above all else; I’m writing specifically to tell a story rather than just write as some kind of exercise routine or competition goal.
Which means that the first one I attempted (“The Tale of a Thousand Savants“) stalled at 34K not only because I ran out of time (I wrote 24 of those 34K within the last 3 days of November 2001), but because I ran out of plot. I simply ended at the 1/3rd point of the story. I knew what came immediately after it — even started writing a bit of it — but the plot just didn’t make sense, or seem very exciting (four years later I sort of have tied up the loose ends in the story… now I just have to write it down). But I’ll tell you, those three days were some of the happiest creative days of my life. For the first time I knew that what I was doing was what I am meant to do in life; telling stories in a creative form is my purpose, and writing silly novels is one of the most enjoyable ways to do it. The rush one feels as good dialogue suddenly crashes upon your fingers like an avalanche from some part of the universe that doesn’t quite feel like its within your head, the way plot threads suddenly come together and characters starts to become people, real, alive, people you’d like to meet and know and touch and smell — it’s Mega. Reading the best novel in the universe can never compare to the pleasure gained from writing even the crappiest novel in the universe.
My second attempt at Nano in 2002 (“Undecided at the Moment“) was something I was just not ready to write. Mostly because it was the beginning of a plot that would eventually be resolved in Tale of a Thousand Savants, and since back then I didn’t have a sufficiently good resolution to my first NaNovel, the second one didn’t have one either. Undecided at the Moment also didn’t have a particularly interesting plot on its own. It would end on a necessary plot point that would affect 3275 years of Savant storylines, but everything leading up to that point pretty much consisted (and still consists) of Savant just moping around and scaring people with his hook.
Entertaining, for sure, but not yet. Lucky for me in the four years since Tale has got a good story, and because of it so does Undecided, and consequently 3275 years of Savant stories have a kickass backstory that I’m going to enjoy dropping vague hints about for the rest of my life.
The third NaNovel (“Polendron” — not a Savant tale) was something I never should have attempted as a novel anyway. The story is nice enough, but it depends so much on my perception of how it would look visually — and the plot itself is a very visual one — that it’s better attempted as a movie, or at least a graphic novel. I liked what little of PolendronI did write, however.
Since then I’ve barely written any fiction, and that’s why this NaNo will be a particularly tough one — I’m out of shape. I may have written around a few thousand words over the last year on a single project that I have not finished yet. It’s a short thing and I really should have done it by now. Perhaps as a warm up for the NaNovel, I might finish it.
Perhaps I may just go in blind at midnight on October 31. Unlike the last few times I haven’t a clue as to what I will be writing. When I wrote Tale I had the outline down a month before it started, and the others too had some early storylines in place.
This time I am faced with the prospect of either looking through my file of “Things to Write and Do” and pick something that I think I may have the chance of finishing in a month — or at least 50K words of in a month — or just going in blind.
There is one project, I’m not sure if I’ll choose it yet, but at this point it’s just a title and an image I had in mind for the cover of a novel with that title. That’s it. No plot yet.
But, as the NaNoWriMo slogan assures us, that’s no problem.