Monday, 3 December 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: 50 in 26. Now what?

I've explained this before, but I think it bears repeating. I have never run a marathon in my life. I like to jog, but would I do that? Maybe for the personal challenge. But if I did, would my goal be to win the race? That's laughable, so let's come back to something more sensible. Winning the race wouldn't be the challenge for me; completing the race would be the challenge. So what if I can't run a marathon faster than everybody else; what's important is that I could do it. I could run the complete 42.195 kilometres (26 miles and 385 yards). ... Wait! Forty-two kilometres!?! Hold it. Maybe I better rethink this. Ha ha.

Okay, my point is that NaNoWriMo is about the doing not the gold medal. I ran the race and I completed it. Sure I didn't come in first; sure I was slow; sure I was disorganized; sure my running techniques are laughable but I finished the race. Fist pump! Woo-hoo! I win! I win in a contest with myself. Beat that Mr. Armchair General, Mr. Monday Morning Quarterback, oh ye of so little faith!!! Ta-da! Here's where I dislocate my shoulder trying to pat myself on the back.

So what exactly did I accomplish? A fellow blogger asked me that question and I wrote back:

Fifty thousand words. Unfortunately they aren't in the right order. I dropped my laptop and all the indefinite articles slid into chapter one. Chapter number two consists of definite articles then adverbs and adjectives are in four, five, and six. In other words, Stephen King has nothing to worry about.

The biggest and I mean the biggest stumbling block
Not enough time? Fingers cramped? Your spouse is threatening divorce if you don't stop this nonsense? No, it's something a tad more fundamental. It's losing faith in what you're doing. Why am I writing something that nobody is going to read? Why am I doing something that nobody cares about? Hell, I don't care about it.

Yep, a few times I'm sitting there thinking to myself that this is a waste of time. It wasn't writer's block; hell I can make stuff up till the cows come home. It's sitting there mulling over the attributes of a rodent's posterior: Who gives a rat's ass? If you're a Stephen King and have a book deal worth millions or a movie potentially appearing on five thousand screens across North America, your motivation for completing your work is strong but me sitting all by myself, no book deal, no movie deal, no nuttin' at all, well, how would you want to spend your evening? Writing or goofing off? Ooo, let's watch that viral video of the Evian Roller Babies again. Nobody's going to be ripping up my cheque because I didn't finish chapter fourteen tonight. (Okay, for you Americans: check)

My ideas are stupid
I come up with the idea of a hobbit. Now tell me, just who the heck is going to be interested in that? Hobbits? Really? What a dumb idea. Nobody's going to buy into that. I come up with some nonsense about vampires and love in the real world. Oh please, nobody's going to swallow that silliness. ... Wait, I know! How about a kid who's a magician? Nah that will never fly.

So, here I am sitting at my desk staring up at the ceiling wondering just what the next big thing will be. Oh I know, how about something scandalous with handcuffs? Now let's see, twenty hues of mauve? No. Thirty-five tints of puce? Nope. Just doesn't have the right ring to it. Hmmm, how about The Story of P? Nah, that sounds like a Discovery Channel documentary on urine.

So, I come back to the idea of believing in what I'm doing. Only time and my potential audience will determine if I'm full of hogwash. .. I could have written full of s**t but thought hogwash sounded more literary. Then again maybe it just dates me. OMG! He's so old; he grew up before the Internet!

So what's next? NaNoEdMo!
Never heard of it. In Stephen King's book On Writing, his part biography part writer's manual, he talks of writing a book out then putting it in a drawer for a couple of months. You go back to it with a more objective eye and start the process of editing your own work.

Apparently others are familiar with this idea and started a sister process to NaNoWriMo called National Novel Editing Month, the month of March. Finish up your fifty grand on November 30 then tuck that sucker away for 90 days. Starting on March 1, you dust off your Word document with the promise of devoting fifty hours in March to spiffing up your opus and getting one step closer to publication.

It's at this point I slowly say, "O-kay..." wondering if you are going to force me to go back to my hobbits and vampires and stuff: Lord of the Three Tinges of Hairy Twilight. ... Ah come on, it's got best seller written all over it.

My Donation
The same as last year, I went to the official web site (in California) and slapped down my credit card for a one hundred dollar donation. Considering I'm from Canada, I don't get a tax break but what the hey? It's for a good cause. Even if I'm not the next Stephen King, somebody out there is and if I can in small way help them, let's do it. Besides, what's a hundred bucks for the fun I had? If I can contribute to others having the (fun) experience, then it's money well spent. Oh wait, let's play with the punctuation: it's money, well, spent. Ha ha. See? I'm editing already. And you thought punctuation wasn't any fun.

Final Word
In 2011, I wrote fifty grand in 18 days and stopped dead in my tracks. I said exactly what I had to say. In 2012, I kept goofing off and only hit fifty on day 26 but then finished up a few loose ends and went out on a high note of 52,400. What to do now? If I follow the advice of the experts, I put everything away and go do something else. It is December and it is time to think of the holidays and all the items on the unfinished list: gifts, cards, year-end charitable donations, and trying to figure what I am going to resolve to do for the new year, okay the first two maybe three weeks of the new year. How long can I go without ice cream for that new diet? Ooo chocolate chip cookie dough! Mmmmm.

I won't be boring the hell out of anybody by running around sticking my manuscript in their face. I don't want people to start avoiding me in the hall. But I will go back to blogging, mulling over the fate of the world, and picking lint out of my belly button. I am sure in all that I may find one or two nuggets of literary amusement worthy of somebody's time. But I know I have a way to go before I consider myself capable of stringing together a hundred thousand words (the average length of a best seller) into something resembling a cohesive whole otherwise known as a novel. First of all, I still have to figure out how to get all the indefinite articles out of chapter one. We all have the words; the trick is getting them in the right order.


References

NaNoEdMo: National Novel Editing Month (March)
You have entered the portal to the crazy world of novel editing. Have you written a 50,000 word novel but haven't edited it yet? Then you've come to the right place! It is here that people from all over the world gather together to spend 50 hours in March editing their novels. This is not as easy as it might sound but the forums are available to get advice and ask all the important questions you may have. Advice from real published authors will also be here to help you and a certificate of completion awaits each winner at the end of the month.

WikiWriMo
Welcome to Wikiwrimo, the unofficial wiki of National Novel Writing Month, Script Frenzy, and the Office of Letters and Light, written for Wrimos, by Wrimos. Here you'll find out about everything behind the monthlong writing challenge that started it all: from Mr. Ian Woon to the Traveling Shovel of Death, from trebuchets to that painting of Tom Selleck in the OLL office.

The Washington Post - Nov 30/2012
NaNoWriMo: A novel experience By Alexandra Petri
Then you open a blank document and begin to type. You type two sentences. At this point, one of two things happen. Ideally, you realize quickly that the sentences are no good at all, and then you get down to writing and sweat over it for a few hours and produce something that vaguely resembles the start of a draft. If you are not so lucky, you glance quickly over the sentences. "That's pretty good stuff," you tell yourself. "Let's get the author some coffee and think about poses for the book jacket." By the time you get coffee, you are several stops along on your book tour, gazing into the eyes of Michael Chabon as he effusively praises the construction of Chapter Four.

GeekMoms - Dec 1/2012
NaNoWriMo GeekMoms – Results By Brigid AshwoodEmail Author
It’s December and NaNoWriMo is now over. How did you do? Did you make it to 50,000? If you did then congratulations. If you didn’t – don’t dwell, keep going! That first draft won’t write itself. For those participants that “won” NaNoWriMo you might be wondering “what next”? Well we have some suggestions for you!

2012-12-03

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1 comment:

3kids2cats1divorce.com said...

Congratulations! Your accomplishment in completing the challenge is huge. Full stop. No conditions. WOOHOO!