Tuesday, 23 November 2010

I've been writing for 23 days, now...

This year I really thought I might have gotten myself into something I couldn't complete in time.

Stubbornly, in the face of interruptions, this cold that has made me woolly-headed, the usual slump of despair and resistance to the problems such a project entails, and all the usual - that NaNoWriMo contributors know only too well (the inner critic who finds it all boring and tedious and badly-written, the curiosity of people I mention it to - actually using the public declaration as a way to drive myself forward - as to why I should bother, and all that...)

And incomplete sentences, and distractions, and other projects, and the sad eyes of my dog who wonders why I am not walking as much, or why I stare at the screen so often), etc, etc.

I know from previous experience that I learn a lot in this process. Ending up with something that may not entirely make sense (not a lot of time for research, or re-reading) I still find it a very fruitful process, and it feels great to know so many other people enjoy it too.

Each time I face a blank page (if scribbling in a reporter's notebook) or screen, I decide on a different approach or task.

Invent a character, describe something in detail, elaborate on the story so far, spend an evening letting the characters just talk to each other, throwing people together unexpectedly, hinting at secrets that even I don't yet know the answer to, etc. I learn something from each and all of these exercises.

No-one pretends they will end up with a smooth and finished product. Looking back, I feel a bit sheepish that I wanted to follow through to holding a hard copy in my hand, but it led to me learning how to use Lulu, and layout a book, commission a cover, etc.

Learning all the time.

So, I only have a week to go, and have still fallen behind sustaining the right average daily number of words to get through the process smoothly. I have almost clawed my way back to the 'par for the course' word count.

by now I should be at 38k, strictly speaking, and I have only made it to 34k, but I can feel that easing of the tension, too, that can sometimes lead to an increase in pace. The finishing line has become a real possibility, now. I seem to have got through the dreadful 'hitting the wall' phase of such a marathon. I even find time to stop and write a blog post like this.

I have spent some time updating a Wiki we made for one of my favourite books, Illuminatus!

In previous years I made encouraging videos...The creative process has spin-offs like that which make it even more rewarding.

I may even find that the half-understood book from last year, which I never went back to edit, and this year's, may eventually blend, with some savage cutting into something else again.

I quite enjoy not knowing, now, quite what I hope to achieve. Writing forward into the unknown means I sometimes hit passages I actually enjoy writing, transactions that surprise me, and ideas that make me laugh.

All that makes it seem worthwhile, as an adventure, an exercise, a challenge.

One week to go, and more distractions on the horizon, a gig in London, travel (but train journeys do offer an opportunity to write, one good reason for not driving, for instance).

And my worst case scenario? I don't actually complete 50k by next Tuesday. I hope it doesn't happen, but I will still have learned all this...

Wish me luck...just don't pray for me, I don't think it works. On the other hand, why not?

Do as you Will.

[You see? There's 600+ words I'll never see again.
I guess I write half a million words a year, in blogs, emails, FB, etc. So why does fiction seem so hard?]

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