Monday, November 9, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Hell Week or Honeymoon?




Week One was a little of each. Not quite as bad as Hell Week at the old Kappa Sigma fraternity house - sleep-deprived, starved, dehydrated, hectored, harangued and thoroughly mindf***ed. Not as good as the week my wife and I honeymooned in Great Britain, bouncing like pinballs from Portsmouth to Gretna Green to Hay-on-Wye and getting our first gawks at London. But it had some of the highs an lows of each, and left me almost as exhausted.

The first two days were the honeymoon, with the words flowing free and clear and well over quota. Then on Day 3 my Left Brain kicked in, yelling "Whoa!", and I spent a couple days in Hell, tossing out my original plot, adding and subtracting characters and scrounging for ways to raise the stakes. Finally came out of it when my wife and I went to dinner and I laid out the problems I'd yet to solve. The talking helped a lot and she had some great ideas, and next day I was burning the keyboard again.

It's easy to write 1700 words a day. The trick is writing words that advance the plot and build character and foreshadow events and all that other stuff necessary to turn them into a story. For inspiration, I have a post-it on my monitor reading WWJRD? And everytime I get lazy or discouraged or bewildered or braindead I glance at that and think What Would James Reasoner Do? And the answer is always pretty much the same: He'd plant his Levi's in the chair and pound the keys until he'd kicked the problem in the butt. So that's what I've been doing.

Other than my wife and JR, my only companion on this journey has been Booksteve, he of the always entertaining blog Booksteve's Library. Thanks, Steve! I made the mistake of going to the NaNoWriMo site and allowing emails from other participants in my region. Portland, it seems, has 2,457 participants and a good percentage of them spend their time dashing out vapid emails and planning late night write-ins instead of actually writing. My box was so clogged I longed for the good old days, when all I got were offers for Viagra and congratulations on winning the lottery in Lower Slobbovia.

So now it's Week Two, and though I know what dramatic events will take place at the Mid-Point, I have very little idea what will happen in the 12,500 words I'll need to get there. Luckily, I have that WWJRD? note telling me what to do about it.

8 comments:

Laurie Powers said...

I was wondering how it was going. Great write-up Dave. It's nice that you have a significant other to bounce ideas off. As for me, I just have my dogs, who'd rather chew on a bone than chew on a storyline.

Keep us posted - good to hear the practical side of all this.

Booksteve said...

You won the lower Slobbovian Lottery too? How's that for a coincidence? Toothache troubles derailed me mid-week and I've only churned out about a hundred or two words per days since, sticking me at just under 6000. I like what I have, though and there's still time to catch up! Thinking of trying to write parts I have better worked out in my head instead of continuing in a linear direction. Good luck!

Cap'n Bob Napier said...

James would have finished the book, read five others, watched three movies, gone book hunting, and reviewed it all on his blog by now. Not that I'm trying to discourage anyone. You're doing great.

Evan Lewis said...

True, and the book would be a big fat one too.

There's till three weeks for you to jump in, Cap'n. You'll be needing a new Jack Lorentz manuscript soon anyway.

I.J. Parnham said...

I tried Namo once. Locked myself away in a hotel retreat in the middle of winter with just my trusty typewriter. I wrote day after day, a steady 1700 words, and all was going well until someone picked up my ms and read what I'd done. "All work and no play," I wrote, "makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play..." over and over and over and over.

Luckily I had my axe with me to deal with the critic. "Here's me," I shouted...

Joseph A. West said...

Keep going, Dave. You're achieving something I could never do, not in a lifetime. Don't get TOO hung up on James Reasoner. The man's a genius, a writer of enormous talent who comes along once every 100 years.
Do your own thing - you're going to make it - and it's gonna be mighty good!

Evan Lewis said...

Thanks for the encouragement, folks. After today - nothing but plotting so far - I'll need it. Maybe I should stick up another post-it: WWJAWD?

James Reasoner said...

You folks are assuming that I actually know what I'm doing, which ain't necessarily so. I appreciate the kind words, though.