Hello hello hello dear readers.
Let’s start off with a song to set the mood, shall we?
As fate would have it, this was actually the song that was playing when I officially validated my wordcount and won NaNoWriMo. Certainly a fitting song, and what a fun video, yeah?
Coming away from NaNo, reflecting on the story I’ve written and the month as a whole—it’s kind of hard, and kind of sad. I always miss NaNo in the off months. I know it’ll come back around next year but I always miss the crazy energy that accompanies the event. I miss reading the stories of triumph from people on the forums. I miss that feeling of being a part of this giant movement, of celebrating the art and joy of writing a novel. I also miss the excuse (and motivation) to write a new novel.
As silly as it sounds, I sometimes forget that there are more stories in my head than the “Big Two” that I’m working on. I’ve dedicated a lot a lot of time and thought to those stories, worldbuilding, fleshing out characters, remedying plot holes. Of course, I have to give that much commitment to them. I want to make them the best stories I possibly can and I want to eventually get them published.
With NaNoWriMo, however, one of the “rules” is that you have to start your story from scratch. I abide by this rule very strictly because it means I get to revel in the joy of creating something new, something unique, and something that 100% doesn’t ever have to see the light of day if it turns out crappy. I get to enjoy the freedom of writing an experimental piece of garbage if I want to and it teaches me so much.
This year, my biggest aim was to write an entire novel, beginning to end, using only 50k words. Every other year, my novel went on for several thousand more words (often to 70k) and I had to work throughout the following months to finish it. That was kind of difficult for me, because I wanted to work on one my Big Two novels instead and taking a break on my NaNo novel could spell disaster if I lost interest. So this year I wanted to keep it to 50k if possible. I actually impressed myself—on the last day of the month, I wrote my 50 027th word AND the very last word of the novel, all at the same time.
And it was great, actually. The novel is whole, and finished. I didn’t rush it. (If anything, I probably stretched it out a bit, but we won’t talk about that :P).
I learned about character building as well. With the Big Two, my characters have been sculpted and refined for years to get them just right. These NaNo characters were built in just a few weeks, so I didn’t have as much time to create depth and subtleties. I therefore tried to pick out the one big flaw or limitation that would dictate the character’s actions and thoughts. One character has noticeable glaucoma. Another gets brutal migraines*, making him a useless lump in times of stress. The protagonist is half-deaf and overconfident. And the last character—well, he’s actually quite messed up, the poor fellow. But his biggest limitation is immunity to pain. By choosing these big flaws and centring the characters’ actions around them, it actually helped develop the depth I needed them to have. They’re not completely fleshed out (room to grow), and they’re lacking a lot of the nuances that real people have, but they came together quite nicely, I must say.
The last super important lesson I learned while writing this novel is that I can write 4000 words, three days in a row. That time when I fell really far behind and had to sprint to catch up—that was a crazy learning experience. I thought I would get bored, or stuck, or go insane trying to write so much so often. But I didn’t, because I learned some time management skills that really saved my butt. I learned that I work better when I have several focussed half-hour sessions, rather than one two-hour session at the end of the day. That is a skill I’ll be tucking away for later when I really need to fit my writing life into my school life.
I learned a lot from this novel. I experimented, researched, and cut down my narrative in ways I’ve never done before. It was fun. I feel good, about what I’ve written, and want to write more stories, which is a very good thing since I planned this book to be the first in a series. So hooray for that! It’ll likely be a while before I sit down to edit and eventually publish this book, but it’ll happen eventually, promise :)
Now. I apologize, firstly, that this blog has become very literary over the past month or so. I understand that this is an adventure blog, not a writing blog, but ohhhhh bear with me. For, you see, I have been going on a very wonderful adventure as of late, and that adventure happens to be a writing adventure.
NaNoWriMo was just the start. I needed that novel, not only to get the creative juices flowing and teach me all those lessons, but also to help me finish a novel and get focussed on endings. Because on the first day of December, the very first day after NaNoWriMo ended, I started up a new writing project that is just as intense. I call it my POTS Editing Extravaganza.
POTS is the nickname for one of my Big Two novels, the one I’m currently editing. I’ve been editing it for about 2 ½ years now, and it has been a rough, rough, roughy rough rough process.
Writing is hard. That’s one of the first lessons you learn when you decide to become a writer. It’s hard to believe that your words are worthwhile, hard to imagine that they’ll ever amount to something, hard to convince yourself that you’re not writing a bunch of crap. Some days are better than others. But the very worst days I’ve had weren’t when I was writing, per se, but when I was editing.
Editing can be glorious. I love discovering new things about characters, or making a scene more significant and meaningful than it was before. But editing is also the worst experience I’ve ever put myself through. There have been so many bad days, so many moments of despair and disheartenment and disillusionment and distress and other bad words that start with D. There have been times when I actually had such a bad day and felt so badly about my novel, I didn’t want to touch it for days, weeks, or even months at a time.
That’s why it’s taken me almost three years.
But, as one must be when pursuing writing, I am tenacious. I want this novel to happen. I want to publish it. I want other people to read it. And so, I must keep editing it. And that’s what I’m doing this December. I’m going to be editing my little heart out, until I’ve got a finished second draft.
I actually could’ve finished it in the summer. I had it all planned out, how many pages I would have to rewrite/edit per day to get to the end, and I could’ve finished it early September. But I fell behind, got discouraged, and struggled a bit. That being said, I still made great progress, I just didn’t make it to the end. However, I now have only a small portion left to write and I’m confident I can finish it.
If I push myself.
I’ve been doing this Extravaganza for, what, five full days now? And already I’ve been pushing myself.
Last night, for example, suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuucked. I was in a horrible mood, and I just hated it. I hated the story, the narration, everything. I wanted to give up, throw it away, scream and cry and crawl in a hole. But I need to write this. If I want to finish on time, I need to write every day, as much as possible. Even when I have a crap day. So I ranted about it on Tumblr, got out my black tourmaline**, and wrooooooote. I wrote all the way through a vital scene. I wrote all the way to the end of the chapter. I made brilliant progress, despite the odds, and am here now with a better temper and a lead into the next chapter.
See, finishing this draft is the one thing I want most right now. After all this work, after all this suffering, I want to be done. I want to move onto the next stage. And I have this vision of me sitting on Christmas Eve in the quiet house, drinking a glass of eggnog to celebrate the completion of this draft. I can taste the eggnog, I want it so badly. And this vision, this simple image, is driving me on like nothing else.
I have to do this. Agh.
This blog is all about adventures, and my life has really become my greatest adventure. Fighting through the trials and tribulations of writing this novel, I am a brave warrior fending off the demons of doubt, racing against the clock, to save the kingdom and win the war. It’s hard, but that’s part of the beauty of it. I have to be strong, stronger than I’ve ever had to be before, but that’s part of the growth.
I will finish this.
Haha, so now that I’ve gone on a geeky/writerly monologue for almost 2000 words, I regretfully have to end with an apology… I, ah, probably won’t be around much this month. As you can imagine, I’ll be busy. So you probably won’t hear from me all that much till January. Which, by the way, is when LotSF is coming back, and when I plan to launch my mailing list. So that’s exciting!
I will definitely post on Christmas though, because I couldn’t possibly neglect to wish my dear readers a merry Christmas! And there’s the last Hobbit movie coming out! Aggh!
Anyways. I hope that this adventure will be a success and that I will be able to bring you good news. I hope all is well in your lives, you lovely lovelies. Take care.
Wrimos—how did the month go? What did you learn? Non-Wrimos—any fun adventures going on in your lives?
May you be brave on your quests and not be afraid to push yourselves.
* While researching migraines (I’ve never had one) I wanted personal testimonies, not just a list of symptoms. So I asked people on the NaNoWriMo forums. The response was overwhelming. If any of you get migraines, I sincerely sympathize with you. They sound terrible :S
** My sister got me this stone the other day :D It’s good for keeping away negativity.