For those of you who don't know what NaNoWriMo is here's another overview:
- The idea is to write a novel of 50,000 words in one month (about 140 pages).
- NaNoWriMo takes place every November.
- It's sort of a contest but not really. People often ask what you "win" if you reach 50,000 words. You win some badges like the one I've posted on the right. The point of it isn't to "win" but to finish your novel in 30 days which is enough in itself since there are plenty of people in this world who talk on and on about writing a novel but never get past the first five pages.
- I'm sure there are exceptions but for the most part the finished novel will be a rough first draft, and probably a "shitty" first draft as Anne Lamont put it so well in her classic book on writing "Bird by Bird."
- No one tells you what to do with your novel when you're done. It's up to you to decide if you want to continue to work on it or move on to the next experience.
List of things I learned during this year's National Novel Writing:
- Just because I've done this before doesn't mean it was any easier. In fact, writing this story was much more difficult than the first one. This was partly due to the story subject matter (Post-Apocalyptic) and my own doubts and writing related meltdowns.
- The middle of the month is the worst. By the 25,000 mark I hated my story, my characters, and was thinking of throwing everything out even though I was caught up on my word count. I kept re-reading sections I'd already written and thinking the story was pretentious, stupid, and over-reaching. I was thinking things like I'm just a nobody who will never amount to anything. What am I doing with a novel in progress, a new novel, a short story, a blog? Thankfully, these feelings have passed, for now.
- I can write about 1,000 words in an hour, give or take a hundred. That's just laying down words without editing (or trying not to edit). Does it come out as gibberish? No, the story plot is intact, has character development and arc, plot twists, settings, lots of dialogue, description, and even the beginnings of my complex story world. The fact that my story does not come out as gibberish is an enormous blessing and I count myself lucky to have this ability.
- I was constantly surprised and still am. Several times while writing I pulled my hands off my keyboard and thought WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED? WHAT DID THAT GUY JUST SAY/DO? It got to the point where I was worried the story was starting to careen out of control. For example, there's a new development that doesn't seem to fit with how I thought things were going to turn out for the two main characters. The best solution for a problem like this is to keep writing to see if everything comes together later.
- I'm still working on this first draft. Sure, I made it to over 50,000 words by today and had it verified but I need to finish this draft. I'm hoping it won't be more than 60,000 words.
- Establishing brilliant rituals really helps. One of my friends and I have been going to a cafe with excellent food in Lower Pac Heights in the evenings. She reads caselaw and I work on the novel. We've been doing this everyday now since Sunday. It's been fantastic.
Things I really like about this novel so far:
- The name: 56 Days.
- My descriptions of the morning the world ends on 11/22/2066 at 6:21 a.m. are BAD ASS! The world collapsing in on itself, the ground splitting open, massive earthquakes, and the sea rushing in from far away, a torrent of gorgeous blue water pouring into the gaping maw that used to be terra firma were so much fun to write.
- My two antagonists are virtually indestructible and I couldn't figure out why at first. I could have just left the reasons out but I really wanted to know the answer. Figuring it out a couple of days after I started writing was tremendously satisfying.
- So far there are a total of ten fight scenes involving explosions and fire, various firearms (twin revolvers, a Browning, and a shotgun), swords, an SUV, a trusty machete, and a very handy Uzi Submachine Gun that fires 600 rounds a minute.
- The first half of the novel is entitled "The End" and is about the end of the world. The second half is about what comes after.
- In the last sequence I wrote, two men are hanging off a hotel balcony above the Financial District in New York City on a beautiful clear night. Below them is New York Harbor and Battery Park. One falls, the other leaps after him. I have no idea what's going to happen next.
- All of these ideas, sections, characters, settings, story could change later.
Thanks for reading.