Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Never Say Never

Well, it's official. I won NaNoWriMo - yay! Not bad for my first year entering, eh? Not only did I hit 50k words in less than 30 days, but it did wonders for my writing process overall. Since the end of September, I've written nearly 150k words. Of those 150k, one was Devil in Disguise - which I've finished since wrapping up my NaNo book. Another was said NaNo book. And the third?

That brings us to the title of this post. I know I said I wasn't starting anything new, that I was only going to polish what was already piled up on my desk, right?

Yeah. I lied.

See, the thing is about writing is that the more you write, the more you have to write about. It sounds funny, but it's sooooo true. Last summer, I had some bad writer's block. I would get 30, maybe 35, pages into a new story and it would peter out. Pfft. Just like that. It was only because I'd already written After the Storm that I had anything to send out. Anything new seemed to die a quick, yet oddly painful, death.

But something weird happened. I took out Devil in Disguise - then about 30 pages long, and with a completely different plot - and I basically threw it out. Just figuratively tore it up and tossed it away to start all over again. What did I have to lose? The story stunk and it was static. All I lost was a bit of time.

One of the things I'd read over at Absolute Write was offered up as a "rule" by author James MacDonald. Write for two hours. Every day. No exception. Revising doesn't count. Rewriting doesn't count. Research doesn't count. New words only. And just write. Shut up the inner editor and write, even if it eventually ends up being cut out.

Now, that doesn't mean write crap just for the sake of getting two hours' worth of writing done. That's just pointless and a huge waste of time, when you think about it. Like those NaNo-ers who write gibberish just to break 50k. Why would you do that? Why bother at all, in that case.

So, the goal is to sit and write to forward the story. Basically, by doing this, you unlock the creative process and what starts out as maybe forced soon becomes flowing story.

And in my case, boy did those stories flow.

Devil in Disguise went from a 30 page clunker into a full-length manuscript. A first draft, sure, but it's something on paper. Something more than the first three chapters.

Tiger's Eyes, my NaNo manuscript, also began life as a 30-page-and-out crapfest. But now, it's got a strong beginning, part of the middle, and I've already written the ending. I just need to go back to that sort-of middle and figure out how to get the characters from there to that ending. It's almost 51k words - well over half way to complete novel.

And then there's the newest...

Yeah - I said I wasn't writing anything new. But once I got into the swing of writing for two hours every day... well... I had little say in the matter.

So the new work is tentatively titled Dance with the Devil and it's so far the darkest book I've written. I'm dealing with deeper and darker subjects than normal, and it's probably the most difficult story to write so far. But, I've been working out plot details and creating detailed character analysis sheets and the story is now coming to life. I have to get it down on paper, even if it means breaking my promise not to start anything new this year.

I guess this means my to do list has grown by a bit. But that's okay. It's a scary feeling when you can't get beyond page 30. I don't honestly know how many books I have in me, but it's nice to know there's at three more there for now.

Maybe then I can take a vacation. And leave the muse home for a few days. =)


CJ Harley said...

Congradulations on winning NaNo and on your first try! I am making my way to the finish line myself. Only got 5K to go. I know what you mean about having to write more the more you write. It's catchy and highly addictive.

Jen said...

I never thought I'd say this, but I know what you mean!

I've had ideas jump out at me at inopportune times before, but nothing like what has happened during NaNo.

It's crazy! Do try to take a little sanity break if you can, though, and then jump back in, recharged and refreshed. :)

Kim said...

I have no choice but to take sanity breaks - or insanity breaks really, since they involve romping with the kids and dealing with the hubs and all. But it's a good kind of craziness at both ends. There's nothing worse than feeling like you're never going to write another word again. =)

Happy Thanksgiving!