Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Is that all you blighters can do?

Last month I wrote over 50,000 words. For a novel. Yeah, really. That’s a lot of words, even for a babbler like me. It required a few things: whenever I had a chance, I wrote; no editing at all; just throwing those ideas on the page -- no pondering or thinking out those ideas or putting them in any sort of order; and using “down time” (such as walking to work, that sort of thing) to focus my thinking on ideas for “the book.”

Why did I do it? It was a crazy time at work and there’s really no good reason, but I guess I wanted the challenge. Maybe because it was a crazy time at work, maybe it helped me think of something other than work. I can’t be grinding my teeth about this nut-so work project when I’m trying to think of what to write in the next chapter.

There were a few times I didn’t think I’d make it. There was a point at about 20,000 words that I thought, okay, there’s no way I have any more to say about all of this. Story is over. I was stuck with a short story. But then I had this weird little burst of creativity that kept me going until about 47,000. And maybe because it was near the end, both word count-wise and time-wise, those last few thousand were killing me.

The NaNoWriMo site has all sorts of tips to help increase your word count, but they seem like cheats to me. Like, have your character think something, then say it. (For example: “John thought he should order a pizza. ‘I should order a pizza,’ said John.”) These strike me a bit as cheats. Look, if you’re going to commit to 50,000 words, make them as real as you can get them. Don’t pad just to pad (that said, I’m sure I did some, but I tried not to.) Or another thing NaNoWriMo does is they give you “dares” (such as “we dare you to put a submarine in your story! Then sink it!”) Oh, please. Just write your story. If you really want people to write a novel in a month, then the silliness needs to be set aside.

So, what's my book about? Yeah, I'm not ready to tell you yet. Sorry. It's been such a stream-of-consciousness sort of thing that I have no idea if it's any good or if the ideas fit together or anything like that, so it's still a private thing. If it makes you feel any better, I haven't shown any of it to anyone, so it's not you.

But I have a book. A short book and an unedited book, but a book that I wrote. For now, I've set it aside, at least for a couple of weeks. Then I'll get out the editing hat and see if there's anything there. I'll keep you posted.


Geoff Schutt said...

Some of those "cheats" that Nano gives sound a lot like "telling," versus "show, don't tell." I'm sure you showed your heart in your novel (as it stands right now), and I'm also positive that you'll be impressed by what you wrote. This blog "shows" me that you're a wonderfully talented writer, and fiction -- why shouldn't you write fiction, too? You believed in yourself, and your success with the words returned that belief. Kudos to you!

Vaguery said...

Yay, by the way. Good job. Me, I'm still nine weeks into my 12-week Season of I Told You I Was Not Really A Programmer. Will announce, similarly, end of year.

Still: Yay you.