At one point, I was a whopping 10,000 words behind schedule (work is truly the curse of the creative mind!) and honestly thought I’d never catch up. Luckily, a couple of really long and fertile weekend sessions got me back on track and the words came thick and fast for the final downhill rush to the finish.
So, what did I get from the experience, apart from a sore neck and shoulders from hunching over my laptop?
Firstly, a HUGE buzz for having met the challenge. I'm naturally quite goal-oriented so NaNoWriMo really chimed with me.
Secondly, I now have what I think is a workable first draft for a story idea I’ve been kicking around in my head for years. This means more to me than the buzz of making the wordcount.
Just as I was setting out on NaNoWriMo, I followed a link on A Beer for the Shower - the MOST awe-inspiring blog in the bloggie-verse – fail to follow it at your peril!. This led to an article by one Laura Miller, called Better Yet – DON’T Write That Novel. This article says, amongst other things, that NaNoWriMo, because it encourages people just to write and ignore (for the moment) the quality, is causing far too much crap to be written – crap which gets sent to hapless editors and agents, apparently.
To answer this: I know my NaNo is NOT the finished article. I would be a deluded idiot to imagine otherwise, and would not dream of showing it to anybody other than my NaNoBuddy Don’t Feed the Pixies without a thorough revamp. I daresay most NaNos are execrably bad and should be burnt immediately, but that’s NOT the point.
The point, for me at least, is that I had to discipline myself to sit down and pound out a story, come what may. I’ve never approached writing in quite this way before (and I have been writing all my adult life). It is such a refreshing change!
I have several half-baked novels which have withered through over-editing and general faffing about to the point I get bored with them. What I have learned this year is that if you just keep going, it IS possible to get to the end AND you won’t actually die if there are some inconsistencies or plot holes, because these can be fixed in the re-write.
Having a definite goal to reach really pulled the story out of me and made it grow and change in ways I never would have imagined. Characters appeared as extras, then suddenly blossomed into really interesting people. The setting changed. Heck, just about everything did.
Recommendations for anybody (including me) thinking of doing a NaNo in the future:
Have at least a start and a finish for the story – you can fill in the middle as you go.
Have a buddy to urge you onwards. DFTP and I exchanged texts most days and talked about our progress and this kept the thing alive for me.
And finally: just give it a go! What’s the worst that can happen?
Just for funsies, here's what I imagine the back-cover blurb for my NaNo might be:
The construction of FS-111-Albert-Einstein is almost complete. When fully operational, the station will be one of the most important and potentially lucrative nodes in the FarNetwork, providing a valuable shortcut between two of the busiest sectors in the Ninety Worlds.
For two years now, construction has progressed more or less without a hitch, but about a month ago, things started to go wrong.
At first, it was just inexplicable graffiti appearing on walls and some minor vandalism.
Then a loading bot accidentally crushes a couple of construction workers.
Shortly after that, the suicides begin – or at least, what appear to be suicides.
Has all the construction project’s bad luck simply come at once? Is it some kind of malicious action by a rival corporation, eager to snatch the node licence from Amalgamated Leisure? Or is there a deranged and ingenious killer aboard FS-111?
Gideon Taverner, a freelance security consultant, is hired to find out.