Man, I’m out of practice with fiction writing.
NaNoWriMo is going quite well, word count-wise. Day one started with a bang, well, actually not, as I started writing at midnight and the wife was already in bed, so I kept it quiet. But it started well with me exceeding my quota in the first day. The following few days saw me missing my quota, though it was still a vast improvement over last year where I couldn’t start writing until day four.
I reached both the five and ten thousand word milestones only two days behind schedule and was all set of a 5k-Sunday which would have put me back on track and in a good position to build up a lead for the three days I’ll be missing when I attend a conference from tomorrow.
Then I noticed a plot-hole. Or more accurately, I noticed my plot was a hole. As in, the way I had written the story up to that point the central premise made no sense. My main character had turned out a helpless idiot with a bit of an addiction – not a bad idea for a character as such, but not the sort of person one would see as a threat, nor the type of person one would ask for help, and that’s the type of person I need for the story to work.
So, I did the only logical thing. I started over. This goes against all NaNo-wisdom (and more than a few writing websites, blogs and books out there) which says motor ahead and fix it when you start editing, after November. But I can’t do that. And this is not an inner-editor issue. More of a linear-thinker issue.
It is simply not possible for me to start writing a different story ten thousand words in, knowing it does not match what have gone before. If I try to do that, my brain shuts down…the mental equivalent of the Windows blue screen of death. You know in exams when you got stuck on a question and skipped to the next one? Torture.
Another common piece of writing advice goes that if you get stuck, start writing a different scene. You don’t have to write in order. Sorry. Doesn’t compute.
I’m about five thousand words into the new version and now I’m questioning the setting. What was that thing Hemingway said about sitting before a typewriter and bleeding?
I’ll be very surprised if I do manage to win this NaNoWriMo, but at least I’m writing. Win or lose, I’m finishing this draft. I’ll use the next three evenings away from my computer for some re-planning. Hopefully that will give me a strategic advantage for the remainder of the month.
In other news, last week I reached the two-year anniversary on WordPress.com. Thanks to all of you who’ve joined me on the journey. Whether you’ve been here from the start or whether you only signed up last week, blogging only works if there are people reading your stuff. It has been pointed out to me (correctly) that I’m neglecting y’all some with this prolonged silence. I hope normal programming will resume shortly, but expect some scheduling changes. In any event, nothing will happen before NaNoWriMo is over, so please be patient a little while longer.
I’ve finally read the final (thus far) Song of Ice and Fire novel, A Dance with Dragons. I’m glad to report I enjoyed it much more than A Feast for Crows, though I can’t say I care much for the last couple of chapters and resulting cliffhanger ending. And thus I join the legions of fans anxiously waiting for GRRM to stop publishing tie-ins and actually finish the damn story. Would that I had never discovered the realm of Westeros.
From dragons and white walkers I went on to American Gods. At this point I’ll say only this: one shouldn’t read Neil Gaiman while trying to hash out a first draft. The phrase, “I’ll never be that good,” keeps popping up in my head.
I reckon that’s enough to prove that I haven’t yet shuffled off this mortal coil. If you’re doing NaNo, good luck beating week two. If not, consider giving it a go next year. Just for the fun of it. (Yeah, fun…)