I did it. Despite doing some serious cat-vacuuming (no, we don’t really have a cat – it’s just a way of saying I did some heavy-duty procrastinating), I managed to get my 50,000 words done this month for NaNoWriMo, ahead of schedule. My progress chart does not look like a nice, tidy set of steps, with an equal amount added each day, the way it’s supposed to. It look more like a series of cliffs, looming over broad plains. This is because I tend to write in large chunks when I get rolling, and then stew for a day or two, trying to tease out the next bit in my head.
The story is one I’ve had simmering at the back of my mind for a long time (read several years). It needed to come out to play, and making it my NaNoWriMo project just made me fight through the parts that were not clear to me before. The story and I can both breathe better now that it’s out in the open. And the Skink, my main character, who has hung around with me for the last few years, doing battle with my inner critic, is delighted to have his story told. Now I just have to go back, tie up a few loose ends, and clean up/expand on things/cut out the garbage that ends up being included in any rough draft. It’s the writing equivalent of sanding, using wood filler in the cracks, sanding again, and then putting a shiny finish on your project. You just hope you don’t have to do any major reconstruction on it.
It took me a while to remember that I wasn’t writing a short story, and to adjust my writing style accordingly. But once I got going, it was fun – and I love my characters and my storyline. I’ll be excited to work on revising it during the next month(s). Writing a longer work allows you to really get to know your characters, and to make sure you drop them into plenty of hot water which they will need to fight their way out of. It’s interesting to torture your main characters. (Although they may not agree. But even they wouldn’t like a boring story, now would they?)
The novel I wrote needs a lot of work to make it what I want it to be, but that’s okay. I have more than just a framework now; I have a story with a beginning, middle and end and lots of details to flesh it out. Revising is what December (and if necessary, January, March, April, May and so forth) are for. That’s where I’m heading next, along with some short story projects that I put on hold for the month.
Did any of you try out NaNoWriMo this year? If not, there’s always next year. It’s a great way to prove to yourself that you can do it, and to show you what regular writing can do for both you and your writing.
Now, I’m off to write some more…