Today, being November 8, the 8th day of the month, 7 days having preceded today, there being 23 days left in the month of November, thereby the date today being the 8th, is Day 8 of NaNoWriMo. I had really intended to post updates on a more frequent basis, about every day or two; however, my personal life and writing have been my first priority lately, and usually by the time I finish up at the end of the night (or early in the morning), there just hasn’t been any room for updates. That being said, NaNo is actually going surprisingly well so far. At the end of day 7, I was a couple of hundred words ahead, which I’m ecstatic about. I’ve actually surpassed the point I reached last year (which, as I stated in my earlier blog, I ended up abandoning due to other writing obligations and then ended up losing due to hardware failure and my lack of backing the thing up). The interesting thing is, while it’s the same story I started last year with some of the same landmarks and milestones, the path is slightly different, which surprised me. I think having already written an early draft of the first few chapters allowed me the comfort of knowing how to approach the story early on, but also allowed me to make a few missteps in the plotting. I’ve added some detail, fleshed out my settings and characters more. I’ve done away with all of the lengthy exposition, working on revealing things at much more appropriate pace, one which hopefully keeps the readers (assuming there are some) turning pages to find out why the father was arrested, what it was he was searching for, if he had actually found their locations (assuming the artifacts actually exist and aren’t simply legend to begin with, and further assuming they actually possess the power they’re reputed to have), what the secret is behind them, and what it is the agents of the State are actually after and why. Also, who is the dark figure the sisters spy coming out of their house and who does he (she?) work for. Originally, I had laid much of this out in the second and third chapters, all in dialogue, afterward realizing that it was too much too early in the narration. These are all things that the protagonists need to discover along the way, and setting it all up at the beginning eliminated the driving force of the journey, just sending them from Point A to Point B without any real purpose behind it, basically telling them, “OK. This is the thing you need to do, this is why you need to do that thing, and this is where you need to go to do that thing.” So I’ve fixed that, given the protagonists as well as the reader a reason to wonder what’s going on and why things are happening as they are.
This is the first time I’ve really dedicated myself to writing a novel. Sure, I’ve dabbled in it before, and actually have several chapters of a fantasy novel that I think are really good. And other people seem to think so as well. But I’m realizing that I wasn’t really dedicated to it. I’d sit down and write a few hundred words, maybe a chapter, and then go do something else. And then I’d come back to it a few days or weeks or months later, write a little more, then go do something else. I think I liked the idea of writing a novel, but wasn’t really committed to the process. Additionally, I’ve realized that after so many years of reading how hard it is to write a novel, how it’s like birthing a child, how many years it took this author to write, how many false starts this author had before finally getting it right, etc., etc., I’ve built up the concept of writing a novel into a whole big, laborious, nigh-impossible thing that only Professional Authors can do. When really, all it boils down to is coming up with a concept, doing some prep work (world building, character development, plotting, research), setting a goal, and writing the thing. Even if the first draft is crap, it can always be revised. And that’s where I struggle; I tend to be a perfectionist, so every single word I set down has always had to be The Perfect Word the first time, a mindset that doesn’t mesh well with my organic, seat-of-the-pants writing style. Happily, I’m working on that. This experience has been a great one for just letting myself go and having fun while aiming for that end-of-day word count.
A fellow author recently posted that he feels that NaNo is a gimmick which should be shunned by the true professional. Well, I’m not a true professional, but I’m working on it. In the meantime, I’m approaching NaNo as an intense writing exercise as a way to build my writing muscle, to test the limits of what I can do, and to force myself to set a schedule and make my writing a priority. If I can write 50,000 words in one month, I figure I can do anything. And right now, I’m sitting at nearly 12,000. It’s not yet the longest story I’ve ever written, but in the next few days, it will be. That right there is an accomplishment. And then, when I finish the thing and have an actual freaking novel written? I’m throwing a party.
How did everyone else’s first week go? What’s your daily and/or overall goal and how close to it are you? Have you been writing every day? What’s your view on NaNo: gimmick, writing exercise, or the means to publication? What is the air speed velocity of an unladen swallow?