Archive for November, 2010
Around this time last year in my quest to complete NaNoWriMo, I was not doing so well. My story kind of died around 25,000 words, and even with all the stuffing I could give it, it never went beyond 34,000 words. It was a disappointing experience, though I learned plenty from it.
Today, I passed 34,000 and have gone well beyond that as well. As I’ve mentioned before, this story has legs, and I think it might just be destined for greater things.
Yet, I cannot ignore that, even with the potential for success, the real goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t so much about putting 50,000 words to a page as it is about writing at all. My first abortive attempt in 2007, my goal-short attempt in 2009, and my likely successful attempt on 2010 all share one thing in common: I was writing.
If I had my way, I would try to convince everyone to write too. Maybe not fiction, maybe not even 50,000 words in a month, but one of my dreams is a society that writes, people who exercise that part of their brain, a civilization that leaves a part of itself behind in the value of the written word.
That may be an impossible and, perhaps, haughty goal, but I think not.
Day 18 finds me just short of 2/3rds of the way to my goal with 12 days to go. Of course, a busy schedule and a cold/the flu had to intervene along the way, but this story still has legs, and I think it will reach 50,000 words and beyond.
The other day, another writer noted that middles suck, and I am often inclined to agree. I’m also inclined to believe that it its middles that make a story, even if they’re not as memorable as the beginning or the end. I think middles are the part of the story that make it make sense. If the middle doesn’t hang together, then the beginning and end are like islands in a storm tossed sea, disconnected without anything useful between them.
One of the problems most writers constantly face is how to balance their desire to write with the rest of their lives. Very few of us have the luxury of being able to only write, and quite a few of us have a lot of other things going on that writing. So how do we make it all work.
I’m not going to kid you: you’re going to have to make compromises. Writing is going to have to fit in with everything else, and sometimes making writing fit is like trying to cram one more person into an already stuffed phone booth.
What you have to do is decide that writing is important enough that it has to fit. You may find that you have to write late at night or early in the morning. You might have to write snippets on your lunch break. I’ve even heard of people writing while they’re in the bathroom. Sometimes, it just takes whatever it’s going to take.
It’s probably also going to be hard. You may find yourself even having to defend your writing against your spouse or relatives. That’s just how it goes. Life isn’t perfect, but if you want to write, you’re the one who is going to have to make it happen.
If I’m making it happen, you can too. Just do it.
23,411 words as of day 9.
I have always tried very hard to make sure, as I am writing about writing, to be sure I do not presume or insinuate that everyone else should write like me. What works for me may not work for someone else, but what works for me might inspire someone else.
Today, I found myself being inspired by people who write in ways entirely unlike my own. Yet, in their own exploration of the art and the craft, I found kindred spirits and hope.
I think too many people dismiss writing for a variety of reasons, yet almost all of them spent at least thirteen years or more learning how to do it. Writing is what you make it, and I think the attempt opens pathways in the mind that are worth exploring for anyone.
So, whether you write fifty or five thousand words a day, write them. Mull them over. Savor them. Share them, if you will. Whatever you do with them, the effort will have been worth it.
Sometimes writing is intense because it involves a great expenditure of effort. Other times it is intense because the complex swirl of thoughts, emotions, and creativity that make a particular scene resonate as if it is real threaten to overwhelm the person wielding them.
Today was the latter kind of day. The scene I wrote today rushed out, all 2,400 words of it, in about an hour. For that hour, I was immersed in what was happening, seeing what my characters were seeing in real time as something happened to them that changed their lives forever. Along with the change for the characters came the change in the story I was looking for.
That kind of intensity and flow is something I think most writer’s live for. It’s those moments that I think we believe most that we can succeed at what we are doing, and it is those moments that help us weather the times when writing is far more like the first kind of intensity I mentioned at the beginning.
For me, that ebb and flow is what writing is all about. It is what I live for, after a fashion, and when it pops, it leaves me giddy.
The last two figures crouched in the night. He could hear one of them crying, and the other hissing for him to shut up. Caleb stopped behind a big tree on the other side of Alisha’s position.
“Surrender or I’ll keep shooting,” he said, trying to conceal the quiver in his own voice.
The reply was three quick pops. Small caliber, Caleb though, probably a .22. He swore and dropped to his belly, waiting for the shooter to do it again. A few seconds later, his adversary fired again, and Caleb fired two shots into the shadow. There was no scream this time, but he heard the shadow topple over.
The last man began to sob. “Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot. Just let me go.”
He started to run, but Caleb shouted. “On your knees! Hands on your head! Cross your feet!”
The man collapsed, and Caleb sprinted out to him. He knew it was dangerous because the others might still be able to shoot, but he didn’t care. He couldn’t let this one get away. He grabbed the man by the collar and dragged him back to the fire pit.
“Holy shit, dude,” Charlie said as Caleb pulled out his paracord and started tying their prisoner to a tree, “you shot those people! What if the cops come?”
“Charlie, shut up and sit down,” Caleb said. “I don’t think you get this: there are no cops and these son-of-a-bitches are bandits preying on refugees like us. This is what the world is coming to: there are killers and there are the killed. Which do you want to be?”
I have been sitting here these past few days, and lying awake at night, trying (and I am sure, way too hard) to formulate fantastical ideas in my head. I have been working fictional conversations between dreamed-up characters. Little ideas grow, and then suddenly pop like bubbles and disappear.
Go read the whole thing. It’s worth it: http://jgrubb-manna.blogspot.com/2010/11/nanowrimo.html
Short and sweet: the total’s at 9,278 and I wrote myself in for Senate today. Sounds good to me.
It turns out that writers can be something of an introverted bunch despite our exhibitionist tendencies. We went to the North Dayton NaNoWriMo kick-off tonight. Needless to say, my anti-social self was dreading the thought of meeting other people I’d never met, but not to worry, we all pretty much just sat down and started writing.
Frankly, I like it better that way. Sure, it might be nice to eventually get to know some of these people, but at the moment it was just better to sit there and write.
And write I did, finishing up 6,845 words for the day. That seems like a mighty fine kick-off to me.
Yes, indeed, it is 3:22am. Yes, indeed, I am up. Yes, indeed, I just wrote 3,743 words on this year’s NaNoWriMo story. Insomnia will do that to you…
At any rate, the great adventure of NaNoWriMo 2010 is officially underway for me.
Now, for sleep.