4.5 pages of outline completed.
1 bottle of Aleve (for the arthritis in my hands), 1 brace to combat carpal tunnel, and 2 magnetic therapy bracelets.
7 bags of coffee.
Countless frustrated hissy fits and spiteful ‘I should be writing but fuck words’ naps.
Above is a numerical summary of my NaNoWriMo 2013 experience, an impressive listing if I do say so myself. (And I do. My blog and all that.) But NaNoWriMo isn’t about the numbers, is it? NaNoWriMo is about the words.
So how did the writing go?
The writing went well enough to win but the words came with much more difficulty than I’d anticipated. 2011 was a breeze: the words came like an avalanche, I won the month, and I went on to complete the novel, which just so happens to be Book 1 to this year’s Book 2. 2012: my only trouble came from running out of story and having to pad it with a couple thousand words to meet 50,000, which I did without any problem. But this year? This year was hard.
I was cocky. I was naïve. I thought, “Hey, since this is a sequel, this ought to flow smoothly from the beginning! After all, I’m just picking up where I left off. All of this is outlined and I know the character better than I know myself, so this is gonna be easy!” And lo, the writing gods did heartily laugh before making me regret said thought.
This was a sequel; I spent the past couple years consistently writing this character, so his voice is still very much second nature to me. And yet getting started proved painful, I just couldn’t find any sort of flow. Three false starts before I finally found a shallow groove, and the first 30,000 words felt like pulling teeth—my own teeth, no anesthetic. Timelines just wouldn’t come together; the character voice was shaky. So what happened?
My poor little brain took quite a while to figure out the problem, and when it did I wept, for the problem wasn’t something I could wave a red pen at and fix. I’d reached the writer’s equivalent of a boss level. What escaped my understanding at first was that meshing the second book with the first proved much more difficult than I thought, while adding in the need to do all the prep work and setup for the third added complexity, ravaging my brain and ultimately requiring extensive editing while writing—a big no, no during NaNoWriMo. But what choice did I have?
None. I had no choice. So I tore at my hair, rent my garments, and threw myself back into the fray.
And standing here at the finish line, I wave a banner of 50,269 words. They’re not good words nor are they coherent after the 40,000 mark, but they’re words and they’re mine. I’ve got a long way to go on the novel itself: my outline is 9 pages long and I only made it through 4.5 of those pages during November. I’ve got a damn fine start on what will one day, after lots of editing, be a damn fine story.
That, my friends, is what National Novel Writing Month is all about. Until next year! (Or at least the Camp NaNoWriMo sessions!)