Wednesday, November 29, 2006

MADE IT TO 30,000 -- YAY ME!!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

There are five days left in the NaNoWriMo and I just passed 20,000 words. Making it unlikely in the extreme that I will get to 50,000 by the end of the month. Early in the month, I wasn't worried about being behind, because I knew I had a bunch of time coming up at the end of the month. But you know, life intervened-- I could list all the little things that happened, but the specifics don't really matter. Yes, I could have stayed up until 1 a.m. making up for time that got lost, but I didn't. I have been plugging away at it, though, and for that I am very proud of myself. Not that many years ago, I would have just quit. But I've been writing 500-1,000 words a day with not all that many exceptions. I took four days off when we had out-of-town company, a couple of days off when I had to re-think my whole plot, a day off when my son was home sick. But other than that, I've worked on it every day.

The main thing I've learned is to just keep typing. The hardest part there is to ignore that little voice that is saying, "This is a pile of crap, what's the point?" "This is boring. No one will ever want to read it. Why are you wasting your time?" "No one talks like this [dialog being written]. This is stupid. Just stop embarrassing yourself and give it up."

Because... and here is the best thing I've learned.... as long as I can ignore that inner critic, this has been really fun. Thinking up ideas and turning them into words is something that is endlessly entertaining to me, even if it does turn out stuff that is boring to everyone else. (with the obvious parallel being this blog). And I've learned a few tricks about how I work that have helped, too-- things that I sort of knew before but hadn't ever put into practice. Like: I usually start with the endpoint, and then do the bulk of the writing to figure out how that endpoint happened. Example: I was plugging along with Sarah's school year. I had this really good idea for something that would happen in April, but I didn't feel like I should write it until I got there. But I was totally running out of steam, so I finally decided to jump ahead and write the April scene. That scene poured out like it was inspired and as I typed it, a half-dozen other ideas for things that needed to happen along the way appeared spontaneously. Then I remembered that I'd had this experience before the last time I tried writing fiction-- I would start with a certain scene that came very vividly to mind, thinking it was the beginning. But as it turned out, the rest of the story ended up being about how the characters got there. Which is different than what I've read about other writers doing, but if it works for me I guess it doesn't matter.

So anyway. Yesterday when it finally sank in that there was no way I was going to hit 50,000 words, I was kind of depressed about it. But today, I'm just glad I did this. It was fun. I hope I can do it again next year. And I hope I'll hit 30,000 anyway-- there's still five days to go!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

I'm pretty sure I was not meant to be a novelist. It is like pulling teeth to keep on writing this thing. Every word is like pushing a boulder uphill. And I'm not even that far along, I just passed 10,000 words this afternoon! I keep waiting to get my second wind where the words pour out the way they did for the first 5,000 or so, but it hasn't happened yet. I'm not giving up yet, though. I just want to see how much I can get done, even if it's not 50K. It will have been worth doing even if I never get past 20K, I've really learned a lot.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

So here's the thing. My nano was supposed to be told from the point of view of a 13 year old girl who's mother has just died. How I came up with that is another story but I'll save it for another time. Originally the whole thing was going to be told through her journal entries. The problems with that, when 50,000 words are required, are quickly evident. 1) 13 year old girls don't write 1,000 word journal entries. Mine are coming in at anywhere from 50 to 400 words, and it takes a whole dang lot of those to add up to 50,000. 2) She quits writing in her journal for about six weeks after her mom dies, and after that, her entries are even shorter and sparser-- two in the month she starts writing again, and then 3-4 per month for several months after that. So it is almost impossible to get a lot of words. But the story arc, at least the way it exists in my head at the moment, takes place in the space of about a year-- so in other words, I'm about six months into it right now with 8,000 words, and it's going to be nearly impossible to get more than about 15,000 done the way I have it in my head-- even if I pad pad pad and add a bunch of scenes with a traditional 3rd person narrator.

THere is a perfect solution: she is part of a group of four really close friends. So instead of the story being one girl's version of a year in her life, it could be told by four different voices, each of whom has her own things going on. Four x 12,000 words or so and there you are. Some of it I've already figured out: one girl's dad is an alcoholic, one's parents are hyper-religious. But it's a huge mental shift. Until I figured out this word count thing, I had only planned on Sarah's story. And I've gotten pretty attached to her. part of the problem is that I just don't want to tell the other girls' stories.

But on the other hand, it would also solve some major problems-- like this way the reader would get to find out what was happening with Sarah in the weeks when she wasn't writing at all or not much. example: there is no description of the memorial service, because I figure Sarah would have been too numb and miserable to write about that. But I could easily have one or all three of her friends describe it.

OK, not that anybody wanted to know all this but it's what I've been thinking about all day today. If I'm going to stay in the nano "competition" I really don't have any choice-- and it will probably be good for me just as an exercise. But it's going to take a few days to regroup, I think.

it feels like wrestling with peanut butter.
Aunt BeaN

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

So here it is a week later and I've only written about another 1,200 words in my NaNo. I do have a good excuse-- my mom was here visiting for four days. And I have some free time coming up, so I hope I will be able to make it up. But I'm seeing the value in having told a few people that I'm doing this: I think if I had kept it a secret, I'd just bag it at this point. I have just under 9,000 words written and my plot has pretty much petered out. (I could permit this post to be printed almost perfectly with p words but I imagine it would get boring.) The ideas I've come up with so far for subplots and backstories and descriptions don't interest me very much. but I think that is part of the point-- or at least, the point that I needed to get out of this: sometimes it is more important to get it done than to get it perfect. Now doesn't that sound like something that should go on a poster somewhere?

So since my eyelids are starting to shut of their own accord, I'm going to bed now but I'm hoping some sort of huge inspiration will hit me overnight and I'll be ready to go tomorrow when the school where I work has an "early out" (the kids go home early, which means I get to, too). It would be great to be at 12,000 before the weekend. That's my goal. but as you can probably guess, I'm pretty good at rationalizing.

Aunt BeaN
(typing is my life)

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

So the same day I started this new blog, I went hunting through the support section to find out how to include a link. I know a little HTML, but I just wasn't sure how you do it in this context. But while poking around the support pages, I discovered NaNoWriMo, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. Turns out some guy named Chris out in the Bay Area has declared November to be National Novel Writing Month, and the challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. It's been going on for 5 or 6 years now-- the first year with a handful of participants, this year with more than 70,000.

I don't exactly believe in fate, but the fact that I discovered this on October 29 seemed a little too pointed to pass on. So I went to Borders and got the NaNoWriMo book (No Plot, No Problem by Chris Baty, which you can also find at Amazon). I'm always in favor of reading a book about something when it allows you to put off actually doing that something. And eight days into the month of November, I have written almost 7,000 words-- behind schedule (you're supposed to average 1,667 words a day), but I'm OK with that. The reason I'm telling all of you is because I'm likely to be writing about this quite a bit.

It's an interesting process. The point is not to be perfect, not to do any polishing or editing, just to pound out 50,000 words. I've written short stories before, and I've wanted to write a novel, but I've never actually gotten past the planning stage (well, besides one really crappy first draft I wrote about 15 years ago). But I can tell you after only eight days that I can already see the point of doing it this way.

Since the goal is to produce an insane amount of words in a mere 30 days, a lot of wiffly-waffly dithering around just gets slashed. You don't have time to worry about perfection. For example. If I weren't doing this NaNo thing, I would have decided yesterday that I needed to start over with a new plot. But there's no way I could start from scratch on the 8th day and get done. So I pushed through, and what do you know-- after plodding through another 100 words or so , I got an idea that put me back in business with the same old plot.

The problem with my plot is a) it's depressing and b) I don't think I"m going to get 50,000 words out of it. But when I was whining about this to my spouse last night, he pointed out that I can't possibly know that until I get to the end of it. Which is undeniably true. So I'm slogging away at it. It's kind of fun in a way. Like standing at the top of a ski run that's a little beyond your skill level, you have to just point your skis down and GO. At a certain point, you let go and get down the hill-- it may not have been pretty, but you're at the bottom.

The observant among you will note that I figured out how to include a link, too. Feeling just a BIT proud of myself this evening. But my shoulders are sore from all the typing. :-)

Auntie BeaN

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

after four days with no internet access, I was starting to feel a little cut off from the world. Spent quite a bit of time on the phone with my ISP's tech support, only to discover that it was our phone company's fault. They had changed something on our account without letting us know. Shortly after that we were back online again. Didn't have much to say anyway, so I s'pose it doesn't really matter.