“NaNotes #3” or “The Ending That No One Saw Coming”

For National Novel Writing Month 2012, I’m chronicling my novel-writing journey! Need more NaNo in your life? Follow along. (:

(Parts #1 and #2 here, for those who want catching up.)

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DAY TWENTY

10:21pm, Cali time: Well, here’s a twist. My protagonist, Singer, got fed up with me making such atypically slow progress on his story, and so took over the laptop and started making up a brand new story as he goes along. This will be interesting (in particular because, the instant Singer loses interest in whatever he’s writing, he drops it and takes the plot somewhere else), but I can’t complain: He threw down more words in the last couple hours than I have in the last couple days. So, okay – it’s all yours, Singer. May your writing efforts go more smoothly than mine have, since “So Super Dead”s end.

The face of the man who hijacked my NaNo…
as seen from two angles at once.

DAY TWENTY-ONE

9:52pm, Cali time: Random ridiculousness abounds, in this story of Singer’s. But it could be that we’re about to see a turn for the better. He is attempting, at least, to come up with some plot points that he can build upon, rather than just throw in and out with thoughtless abandon. And he’s actually taken time, in the last few hundred words, to artistically describe some things, rather than just skip over everything on the basis that it doesn’t matter (at all, or just to him). It could be that he’s beginning to take his story more seriously. I’m all for that, so long as it doesn’t slow down his creative pace; 5,375 words of questionable merit today!

 

DAY TWENTY-FIVE

10:54pm, Cali time: Just when I think I know what’s up, Singer changes the game again. The other day he surprised me by allowing one of his fellow characters to narrate a chapter of the book (the plot didn’t get furthered much, that day, though I must say that the character’s turn at the wheel intrigued me). Now today, that same character has talked Singer into abandoning his runaway novel and trying instead to write his real story – y’know, the one I was trying to write when I got hijacked. So I’ve spent the last part of today’s writing time typing up Singer’s version of about half of what I’d already written of his story for myself. Not a super interesting undertaking (been here, done that, y’know), though at the pace he’s been going, we’ll end up in new story territory sometime tomorrow, and that’ll be… weird. I’m really unaccustomed to writing “first drafty” first drafts, which I know this will be, because Singer’s not the writer I am. But, whatever, this is what he’s writing now, and it’s sorta, kinda what I was supposed to be writing at this point, so we’ll call this a win-win, for now. Time may tell a different tale.

DAY TWENTY-SIX

4:26pm, Cali time: Well, Singer and I are waving the white flag. I guess the experience of trying to write a novel on his own has caused him to view my efforts at crafting his story with a more empathetic eye. Neither of us want to spend the last days of November racing ahead on a project that nobody’s happy with, so he’s calling it quits on his authorial career, and I’ll take the time to do his novel right sometime down the road. I’m a bit disappointed that the back half of my NaNo has ended this way; it would have been so supremely satisfying to knock out two novels in a single month. But I can hardly look back on these last three-and-a-half weeks as a total failure. I’ve got “So Super Dead” to be pleased with, and have done myself proud with the number of words I’ve been able to squeeze out of me on an almost-daily basis. And even Singer’s partial novel isn’t a complete loss; some parts of it proved quite entertaining to write, and it’s given me some ideas for future stories. You can’t put a price on inspiration, I always say. (I’ve never said that. I may start saying it now, just for some measure of truth after the fact.) So I guess this is pretty much it for my National Novel Writing Month, 2012, with a full novel, some novels to come, and 79,806 words to show for it. And with the double-novel bar still un-reached, I guess that’ll be my challenge again next year. In the meantime, I’m ready for a few days off from noveling like a madperson. Anyone care to take bets on how long it takes for the old writing mania to crash my word vacation? (My money says I don’t make it through December.)

“NaNotes #2” or “Conflict On the Rise for Characters and Their Authors”

For National Novel Writing Month 2012, I’m chronicling my novel-writing journey! Need more NaNo in your life? Follow along. (:

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DAY SEVEN

11:00pm: So tired… so very tired… I was up too late last night, for a couple of reasons – one of them being that I was having trouble with the then-current scene in my book. It’s hard to add words when you don’t feel you know what you’re talking about, and that’s pretty much always how I feel when I’m dealing with an action scene. I’m horrible at choreographing fights and physical stuff like that, because I can’t visualize that kind of thing well. My writing life would be so much easier if nobody did anything other than sit there and talk about their feelings and stuff. But after a quick night’s rest, I attacked my book’s monster vs. monster battle with renewed vigor, and I do not hate the scene nearly as much as I did this time last night. And then more stuff happened, which I’m too exhausted to say anything clever about it. 31,967 words. Bedtime.

DAY NINE

10:30pm: I’m discovering something about me and NaNo. I love that it means major novel output. What I don’t love so much is how it makes me obsess about word-count. I like to measure my progress in terms of just that: Progress. Did I move the plot forward today? Did I finally get to that scene I’ve been looking forward to (or, occasionally, dreading) writing? Did I finish a chapter? Did I sit there and gape as my characters’ conversion took an expectedly dramatic turn that adds a whole new layer to the story? Those things are progress. Saying that I sat there and typed for yea many hours (minus distractions) isn’t progress. Noting that I put down so many hundreds of words is progress, but… it’s just a number. And now I’m bugged that I didn’t just cut out a certain 1K words today that I know the book doesn’t need, all because I didn’t want my word-count to take the knock. It’s not cheating; all’s fair in love, war, and NaNo. It’s just, grr, those words don’t belong there! Get them out, out, out! I’ll erase them once the book’s over. Ah, a finished book… that’s progress! In the meantime, 40, 950 words.

DAY 12

12:27am: As of a few hours ago, I’ve finished “So Super Dead”. I had wondered whether I would be able to manage it, since Day 10 had been a real crawl of a day. Turns out that maybe a paragraph an hour is the best I can do while I’m half-socializing with the woman braiding my hair. Noise/distractions and my writing do not mix well. But even with the first half of the day yielding a pittance of an output, and much of my evening spent either on the road to/from or attending a hilarious pantomime based on Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol (gotta love a “Christmas Carol” spoof), I was able to produce something a little beyond the standard NaNo minimum of 1,667 words – about a quarter of what I would have considered ideal. And like I said, by the end of Day 11, I arrived at THE END. It didn’t quite hit 50 thousand words, but it was my anticipation of that back in October which prompted me to go for a second novel in a month. I may put off beginning Project #2 until Thursday the 15th, because later today (after I eventually go to sleep; ‘cause, y’know, it’s after midnight), and quite possibly Tuesday, I shall turn my attention to the matter of packing my bags so I can run away to California on Wednesday. Why? Oh, I imagine there will be one or more future blog posts to explain it all, eventually…

DAY 13

12:30pm: It feels so weird to not be writing, right now… I gave myself these days off for a reason, and they’re still good reasons, and it’s not a matter of worrying that 15 days will prove too few to write my second novel, because that was the budget for Project #2 from the get-go, and I’ve just demonstrated that almost 47K words in 11 days is doable for me. So it’s not worry. It’s just the same case of antsy fingers that I had back at the end of October. I’m chomping at the bit and pawing at the gate and otherwise displaying my transformation from human to impatient horse. Neigh, nicker, snort!!! (Translation: Hurry up, Thursday!)

DAY 15

The fact that Tirzah is on her laptop and I’m fooling around with a camera suggests that she could be getting more writing done than me.

9:16pm, California Time: Writing again at last! This morning was crazy slow, thanks to a whole bunch of factors. I was still tired from my travel day yesterday (my first time flying in a plane all by myself!), was trying and failing to concentrate in an unfamiliar environment (my first time writing in a Starbucks with Tirzah!), and, of course, this was my first day taking a crack at Project #2, “Singer of Skycastle, and Other Tales Within a Tale”. As with Project #1, I started off with a voice that just wouldn’t fly, and scrapping the first tortured efforts to begin anew helped immensely. 2,023 words done today, 49,016 overall. If I don’t blow by 50K tomorrow (or maybe tonight? ^^ Not likely, the way I’ve been dawdl— I mean, socializing), bigger shame on me.

DAY 18

8:20am, Cali Time: Hoping an early start will help to really pack in the words, today. Super fun distractions (bless/curse you, San Francisco!) have made it difficult to get into a rhythm with this book as quickly as I’d like. I’ve more than once contemplated scrapping this idea for now and rushing headlong into something else, but I daren’t do that; I promised the MC that it was his turn in the story queue, and it would really upset him if I went back on my word. So I’m once again approaching the narrative from a slightly different angle, and hoping that will make things go more smoothly. If nothing else, it’s got me feeling eager to write, rather than forced at mental gunpoint, so that can only be for the good, right? Back to the book!

“NaNotes” or “So It Begins”

For National Novel Writing Month 2012, I’m chronicling my novel-writing journey! Need more NaNo in your life? Follow along. (:

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DAY ONE

2am: Three-way phone call of a kickoff party = a great way to ring NaNo in right. Waiting until my west coast buddy’s time zone hit midnight = all very fun and stupid. My productivity window had pretty much closed an hour ago. An hour and a half = 600-some words of frustration before calling it a night.

10am – 1pm: After a good night’s sleep (ha-ha-ha-ha…), I reevaluated my progress, scrapped what I had and employed a voice switch. 2,298 much better words. What’s to thank? The change of narrative tone? A writing shift more in time with my internal clock? Relocation to my bedroom? (I’d been in another part of the house before.) Could be any, all, or none of the above, most probably a combination thereof. (Yay, rhyming! And I’m not even working on a minstrel book, this year.) Breaking for breakfast before a hunger headache derails me.

2-ishpm – 6pm: 4,226 words, and explicable exhaustion is rolling in. Since I’m going for two novels, this month, 4K seems like a safe daily word-count minimum. Yay! I’ve past that! And I’m having fun with the voice I’ve chosen. (Thank you, 1 main character of 3!) Unless I catch a second wind, this will probably be it for today. I’ll take it, and go to bed substantially earlier than I did last night (barring character drama; it happens).

DAY TWO

10:30am – 1:30pm: 2,207 words so far today. 2 of the 3 main characters have just met up; we’ll be introduced to the third when I come back in to start the next chapter. Both physically and mentally speaking, now’s a good time for me to take a break; body to care for, blog to post

3pm – 7pm (though it’s taken me ‘til almost 10pm to record this): I’m now up to 8,625 words all told, and tentatively feeling like a beast. I wrote a line towards the end of today’s work that made me honest-to-good laugh out loud. I posted it on my Ballad” Facebook page as the “line of the day”, a fun NaNo tradition I began while writing “Ballad” for my first-ever Writing Month. Some days there are a ton of lines I love to choose from; some days, none of them jump out at me; today, it was a no-brainer. …which is good, because I’d like to have my brain handy for tomorrow. Don’t want to lose momentum!

DAY THREE

10:30am – 1:30pm: Hmm, only 1,975 words so far today. Gonna have to step it up for my second shift. I know I’ve got days coming where I’ll have stuff to do beyond writing and getting just enough food and sleep to continue writing, so I wanna make sure I’ve got a nice, safe word cushion before then. I left things on the brink of an important action scene, so let’s see how much fun, drama, and verbiage I can wring out of that.

2:30pm6:30: New total of 13,018 words! That’s what I’m talking about! Assuming this book truly does end in the neighborhood of 50K, I’m a little over a quarter of the way through, now. Writer buddy Tirzah pleased me, upon my sharing this day’s additions to the story with her, by saying that she’s enjoying “So Super Dead” more than she expected she would. Something about how she hadn’t thought it would be the sort of plot she was interested in, but I’m managing to thoroughly entertain her. To which I say, “Boo-yah.” (:

DAY FOUR

8:00am – 1:00pm: 2,773 new words. Why I was wide [enough] awake and ready to go at such an hour, I don’t even know. Then again, we did set the clocks back at hour for the end of daylight-savings, last night, so I guess my brain thought it was 9am. …That still doesn’t explain my being awake. Guess I just wanted to get up and write!

2:00pm – 4:30pm: 4,509 words today (minus a sentence from yesterday, but whatever, it’s still the best writing day I’ve had yet), 17,563 all told! I expect that I’ll add more sometime this evening/tonight, somewhere in between finally practicing drills for sword-fighting class (*cough* which I’ve neglected all week *cough*) and watching the new episode of “Once Upon A Time”. It would feel quite satisfying to break 5K* in a day!

(*11:00pm: 5,603 / 18,656 at the last! And Tirzah says she likes my characters! Whoo-HOO!)

DAY FIVE

9:45am – 1:30pm: 2,504. This morning’s was a challenging section to write, because it was pretty much all conversation. I don’t have trouble with dialogue in and of itself; my characters always have something to say. It’s just a matter of making sure that their important conversations stay on track. Entertaining banter and dramatic arguments are great, but if they don’t move the story where it needs to go, what’s the use? I think the words spoken between these characters accomplished what they need to. I’ll know better once I run them past the beta.

2:30pm – 7:30pm: And our pre-edit total for the day is 5,565 / 24,285. What’s that? Editing during NaNo? Say it ain’t so! Be chill, it’s nothing major. Basically I just read back over what I’ve done for the day and put in missing words for the sake of complete sentences, or take out words that no longer belong there after I changed my mind halfway through a phrase. Occasionally I’ll think of whole new words/sentences/phrases that didn’t occur to me to add during my first rush through. So no, I’m not doing a perfect job of keeping my Inner Editor locked in the cellar; but – in part since she’s been mostly helping me to increase my word-count, this NaNo – I’ve no regrets.

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And now to get back to my writing for Day Six…

Fellow Wrimos: How’s your NaNo going?