Studio Musings

Monday, November 9, 2009


According to blogger, this is my first blog post since May 3, 2008. And it's is largely thanks to the NaNoWriMo project. I'd stumbled upon their website at the tail end of October and discovered that November is National Writing Month. NaNoWriMo challenges people to commit to writing a 50,000 word/175 page novel in the 30 days of November. Doing the math, I determined that meant I'd need to write 1667 words per day to keep on track. Sounded doable, so I signed up.

Backing up a little, I'd been trying (with no success) to commit to a writing project for over a year now. For as long as I can remember I've had story ideas rolling around in my head, and every time I read a mediocre book (more often than I care to admit), I find myself saying "I could write at least as well as that!" So this seemed like just the kick I needed to force myself to actually sit down and write.

This year November 1st was daylight savings, so I even had a whole extra hour for writing. I got up early, wrote for an hour, then turned all the clocks back and did it again. I was back to where I'd started when I first got up, but now I had three pages of typewritten text to show for it! How cool is that?

I'm now a little more than a week into the project and my word count as of last night stands at 13,126, just slightly behind the 13,336 the calculator recommends. The first three days of writing I had no trouble making my quotas. Buoyed by enthusiasm, I breezed through day one, doing my best to ignore the gaping holes a major, last-minute change in my main character's background had left in the plot and cast of secondary characters. The next day, I continued on, attempting an enroute course correction to bolster the sagging plot. (NaNoWriMo stresses that the focus this month is Quantity, not Quality and editing is verbotten). Still not satisfied, I turned the entire second days writing blue and changed course again on day three.

By the end of day three, I'd reached what was supposed to be the pivotal, highly powered scene, one that would destroy my protagonist's world and change her forever. Instead, I was ready to quit or start over from scratch, ditching the last 5131 words I'd written. How could I expect my readers to care, when I wasn't even sure that I did at this point? I had a cast of paper-cut out people in a painted scrim world. Aack!

I'd be breaking the rules to start over and couldn't even guarentee that the next try would be an improvement. So I took a page out of Tolkein's book and have spent the last several days researching and world building. It's amazing what you can find on the internet! I've toured ancient Petra (situated in the modern country of Jordan), the Anazasi of the desert southwest, and more than a dozen old west forts established across the American frontier in the early 1800s. I've read diary entries of immigrants on the Oregon trail, researched names and now know more about the army (both modern and Roman) than I ever knew before. My story is supposed to be an adventure novel, set in an alternate world. I chose it because of all my story ideas it had the most complete plotting (hah!), and I thought it would be easier. Double hah! Little did I know!

I spent most of the weekend trying to birth my little world, just one continent actually, watching it grow in words on the page. The last thing I tackled were backgrounds for my secondary characters, which I'd been avoiding for three days. A part of me didn't want to make them real, because I know what happens to them next.

And so here I am this morning. I've done no editing (well almost none), but I now have a good start on a real world and real people whom I care about. And I'm procrastinating writing the next scene by writing this entry. But, I've written 13,126 words! That's 33 type written pages at 12 point type. And amazingly, I'm actually having fun!

I'm not saying my writing is great - much of it is frankly crap and the beginning still needs to be rewritten. But I see something resembling a real story starting to emerge. And it's a great feeling so I'm celebrating. Because who knows how I'll feel in two days!

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