I’ve been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo this month, working on a new novel. (Camp NaNo is like November’s NaNo, except in the summer and with “cabins.”) The “New Shiny Novel” effect is starting to wear off, and I see more of the challenges I’ve laid for myself down the road, but I’m still really excited about this novel. Of course, normally when I do NaNo I cheat, in that I’ve already written the first 20k words or so and am just banging out the next 50k, once I know what I’m doing. This time I actually started from scratch. So, how’s it working?
I’m behind. Like, really behind.
There has been illness, and editing of other books that aren’t my current NaNo project, the occasional social engagement, and you know, life happens. It’s cool.
It’s also not over yet. I can still make it.
Since I’m going to a conference next weekend, I’m going to be even further behind. I’m going to have to write a lot of words every single day to keep up, and I haven’t been good about writing on weekdays lately. But it’s not impossible. In 2011 I wrote 25k the last five days of NaNoWriMo to win; I’ll have to pull out something similar here.
Even if it were impossible, though, I’ll still keep pushing until the end, because even if I don’t reach 50k this month, every word I write this month is another word on the novel, another word I then don’t need to worry about writing next month. Because this novel isn’t going to be finished in 50k words, but once I reach that number I’ll have a better idea of just how much longer the book is going to be.
The limited time frame here actually sort of works to my advantage, because I’m going to have to write every day. It’s amazing how much speed I pick up as I go; once I get past the 1667-word mark in a day, I get exponentially faster. And when I write day after day, those first 1667 don’t fight me as hard. Except of course for when they do, and sometimes getting to that point can take hours and hours.
Practically speaking, this means a lot of time locking myself inside all day, planting my butt in a chair and just getting it done. I have friends who find this to be a sad state of affairs; to them this sounds pathetic or painful. And while waxing all the cats, I might idly contemplate doing something else with my day, but it doesn’t last, because this is what matters to me. Because then my butt is in the chair, my fingers are on the keyboard, and pretty soon all I can think about is the story.
Regarding writing, David Eddings observed, “When it’s going well, it’s like reaching up into heaven and pulling down fire. It’s better than any dope you can buy. When it’s not going well, it’s much like giving birth to a baby elephant.”
Not that I’ve given birth to many elephants, mind you, but I still know exactly what he means.
I love writing. It’s who I am, what I do. Even when it’s excruciating, there’s always more fire for me to pull down.
4,221 words today so far, and I’m taking a break to edit some other things. But I’m on it.