Lessons learned one recent frenzy-filled month
Hey, I did that thing! You know, that thing where you set yourself up with an impossible task and then you’re really bitchy to your family and neglect your work and health and all the household chores for a whole month while you get it done?
No, silly, not Christmas. Guess again.
I wrote fifty thousand and some words for National Novel Writing Month. And I’m still nowhere close to being done with the actual novel, so no, you can’t read it. But I have the cutest outfit picked out for my photo on the book jacket.
And since my brain is a big pile of goobers after that, you’re going to get a list for today’s blog:
Stuff I discovered while neglecting everything else for NaNoWriMo:
I live with supportive people. Today Colin told me he had to come up with an epilogue for a book they read in class and he enjoyed writing creatively. “I can see why you do it,” he said.
And then I said “aww,” and hugged him until he struggled for air.
It’s possible my cute family can be so supportive because they don’t mind fuzzy bathrooms or processed food for dinner as much as those sorts of things bug me, which is a huge help when you’re trying to ignore cooking or cleaning. It also tells me my family is kind of gross and not very discerning, but I knew that already.
They are also already mentally spending the millions they expect I’ll be making as an author, which is probably more realistic than the millions they mentally spend of our lottery winnings.
But only marginally, writing getting the slight edge only because I never buy lottery tickets.
These supportive people can eat pizza every night for weeks and still love me. In fact, they probably love me more after eating so much pizza. What we really need now, though, is the number for a good pizza detox facility.
I can give myself a pass from editing. For four, whole weeks I didn’t read back over – and second and third guess and rework – every little thing. Somehow I still managed to escape the rain of hellfire from the Lit Gods. It was freeing.
Keep in mind I’m feeling that way still having avoided going back over the 150-some pages I wrote in a month. It may be all crap. It was done in a variety of states of sobriety as well, so parts of it may be hogamus higamus hogwash. It’s probably going to take twelve times as long or more as long to edit, workshop, and rewrite as it did to belch the whole thing out.
The test of the story, I guess, is going to be whether I can stick with it for any length of time. It’s my baby, sure. I don’t like to think I’d abandon my baby. I’m not that irresponsible, but I am fairly easily distracted, and … ooh, look, scones.
I need to take copious notes because I have a terrible memory and am really disorganized. Did my main character drive a Pontiac or was that his dad? Who was that guy with the pointy beard? What chapter was that in?
Oh, and guess what? One of my characters spouts Greek in one part of the book, and then later when someone asks (I’m paraphrasing here): “what was that Greek thing again?” (it just seemed to fit the story, it’s not like I have any control), I couldn’t remember where he said it, or what it translated into or what chapter that was in.
Oh my God, I can’t remember if I even had breakfast this morning or got the right kid to the right school, and here are five people in this story I’m supposed to keep track of in my book.
No, dammit, make that six people.
Next time I need to work with a smaller cast of characters. And no Greek.
Outlining is my friend. So is character and backstory development. That whole disorganization issue notwithstanding, I did find myself getting caught up in these two points before starting. I thought I was just procrastinating, and maybe I was, I mean, I was never going to share everybody’s whole backstory; why Jake, for example, could never tolerate chocolate pudding after the unfortunate school-cafeteria-lunch-lady-sans-hairnet episode.
But when it came down to how someone would react, in a given situation, it was easier because I was in their heads.
… except for that sixth person I forgot was there. I was never in her head. Nor that of the pointy bearded guy. And apparently not that guy who knew Greek. But most of my characters were three dimensional.
This budding appreciation for development is a huge thing for me. I’m not a big-prep person. I’m a jump-off-the-ledge-without-looking-first-person. I’m also a sure-to-lose-interest-really-quickly-if-things-don’t-all-fall-into-place person.
So, here’s the thing: I’m still only 60 percent of the way through the story, so after a quick break, I’m going to plunge right in and finish it.
Then I hope to read it again and realize it wasn’t as big a bunch of crap as I suspected …
So I can get started making my millions. Quick like a bunny.
I will let you know how that goes.
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