What a month November was.
NaNoWriMo is done… phew… No fanfare this time, no balloons. I made it, just. Scraped through with 50,594 words. 2 years ago I wrote a smidge over 70,000. So why the difference? Firstly I’m 40 now. Writing past midnight, after working all day, is no longer my thing. I struggle to put anything coherent down once my eyes start complaining and my head feels like it’s stuffed with cotton wool.
Secondly, I descended into November in a bit of a rush. I was far better prepared in 2010. Back then I had a detailed outline, a vibrant fantasy world and rich character backgrounds. The words practically wrote themselves as they poured out. This year, in October, I worked an outline halfway through and abandoned it in light of something a bit simpler. With only a few days to the November 1 start date, I realised the original concept would be overly complex. It required far too much research. With a large 50,000 word deadline I needed to hit the ground running.
The trick with NaNo is to write, every day, and keep the words ticking over. In principal this is a great habit to form. Although for me I don’t feel I need this lesson anymore. I’ve written 5 full length novels plus many short stories. The writing part has never, and probably never will, be a problem for me. When I’ve a story to write, I write it, although I do it my way. It takes as long as it takes. I don’t normally rush my prose as it ticks over by itself well enough. I do detailed research; Google is my friend, as I go. Sometimes the words halt, for a day or maybe two, as I work something out before ploughing along.
Thirdly, I simply had a busy November. Busy at work. Very busy at home. Distractions popped up here and there, stealing my time and focus away. I’ve never felt so squeezed to find time to write. No idea why this happened, best laid plans and all that. My family helped where they could and I’m eternally grateful but life seemed to get in the way again and again. Toward the end of the month, as I passed the 45,000 words mark, I can remember thinking I would only just make it. I can honestly say if this was the first story I had ever written, I would never have gotten over the line. I used every trick in the book to push through.
So here I am with half a book down but I’ll get to that later. For now I’m busy once more. My December, thankfully, has been pretty much normal. I’ve had considerably more time to do my thing. Specifically I’ve applied all of my editor Susan’s changes to Flight. Wow, for the first time I have a polished manuscript. The story presents well. It flows better, conforms to industry standards. To see a core idea chiselled into a magnificent end product is really something else. I’m so proud of this novel; it has heart and life plus an interesting and unique plot. Applying the changes, and honestly there weren’t that many, page after page gave me such a feeling of satisfaction.
Importantly I’m now confident to send Flight out as a completed product.
Back to my half book, this story’s an urban sci-fi, titled ‘DreamState’. The main character can astral travel and specialises in ‘dream walking’. He helps people deal with nightmares. Pretty cool really. Anyway, I like this story, a lot. It has a touch of my first book, which was wildly too big for a novice author to do justice. The premise grants me space to stretch my writing about unusual and interesting things. It’s a lot of fun to do and very rewarding.
As I said to complete NaNo I used every trick in the book. This time I wrote third person limited, that is from a single characters view point. I usually tend to do a fair bit of head hopping in most of what I write and this is okay if it’s controlled and does not occur too often. I especially do this when I’m tired and writing fast. My third book, Impatience, I wrote the first version in 9 weeks and it jumped around a lot.
‘DreamState’ is presently on hold. I’ve never written a book and shelved it half way through. It feels weird. Insert sad face. The characters are barking at me to keep going and tell the rest of it. Sigh. I need to focus on applying all the professional edits. I’ve 500 pages of Impatience with full mark-up to work through, and that will take considerable time. DreamState deserves my full attention and I simply can’t do that for now.
I doubt I will do NaNoWriMo again. It doesn’t suit my writing style. I don’t believe I get enough out of the month to justify the required absolute devotion. Plus twice is enough I think. One might argue I now have half a story down however the writing is not to my usual standard and I will have to rework more than usual. The point is I would have written it anyway, perhaps early into the new year. The concept has been floating around in the back of my head for quite some time and wanted to get out.
2013 – The big push…
My plan for 2013 is to heavily promote Flight and Impatience. In April I will be attending Conflux 9, the 52nd Annual National Science Fiction convention, held in Canberra. I am really looking forward to this. The last convention I attended was WorldCon back in September 2010. Conventions are a great way to meet new people and talk the talk. Very much worthwhile! Like WorldCon I will report bits and pieces here as I go.