01 November 2011

NaNoWriMo '11 Begins—What Am I Doing?

Hello everyone. It is now November. This is normally a sad statement because it means that it is no longer October, the most joyful month of the year. However, for a writer, it means that National Novel Writing Month has officially started, and it’s time to start pounding the brass keys. (In my case, the plastic-covered keys. If you don’t have a plastic cover for your desktop or laptop computer keyboard, invest in one now. Not only have I saved myself from buying three new keyboards due to evil coffee spills, but all the grime and grit and the thousands natural shocks that keyboards are heir to get transferred to this plastic shield wall.)

I write every day, so the idea of NaNoWriMo should not seem like much of a change for me. Yet, every year, it makes me crank up my ambitions, even when I am a “rebel,” someone who isn’t trying to write 50,000 words of a new novel starting on November 1st. The first two years I did the standard NaNo practice and wrote new books, one of which is my personal favorite of all the books I have written. Last year, I rebelled and decided to write 50,000 words of different short stories instead. This was much harder to achieve, but I wanted practice with the short form.

This year, it’s back to novels—and I feel at this point I may drop doing short fiction for a stretch. However, I’m still a NaNo rebel. I planned to do something unusual. This morning, as I started to work, a bizarre event occurred, and my rebellion got weirder.

Short version: I am writing two novels at once. I have never tried this before, and I thought it impossible. It may still be; the first day isn’t even over yet.

Long version: I started writing a new novel this spring, and got about 80,000 words into it, and estimated I had 20,000 remaining before typing “The End.” But I stopped. I can’t say for certain why I did this. Never in my serious novel-writing have I stopped and left something unfinished. But I did, and I soon feared I would never complete the novel. I started to think the book was no good, and it was a waste of time to return.

Two months later, I changed my mind. But I was deep into writing short stories and had trouble motivating myself to sit down and figure out what I had to do to finish the book. As NaNoWriMo approached, I decided that finishing this book and revising it would be my goal.

After doing NaNoWriMo three times, I noticed that it has turned into a tool for whatever needs to get done at the time. As a motivator, it works marvels. The community aspect is also a great catalyst. So “rebel” tag be damned, I choose to make November a month to finish up a work that I have long delayed.

Except when I got up this morning to start work, I started typing a new novel. What the—?

An idea exploded in my mind a few days earlier that a novella I wrote last year might work better as a full-length adventure. A publisher expressed interest in the idea. Okay, I would start working on that once I finished up this other book for NaNoWriMo.

But I started working on the expanded novella immediately. This is the hypnotism of NaNoWriMo at work. This is why I love this event.

The energy from writing the opening of a new book threw me into my incomplete one, and I polished off 2,000 new words in it. And I still plan another two hours of writing today. I’m wading into foreign territory here, writing two different books in different genres at once, but I feel excited about it rather than intimidated. The “fright factor” (What am I doing? will certainly arrive one of these days, but I shall prevail!)
It does help that the books are in different stages of their plots. If I were starting both from the beginning chapter, I can’t imagine it would work.