If this were a race, I’d put my money on Harriet. I don’t think the dreaded deep, dark forest of Week Two is even going to slow her down. I predict she’ll hit 50,000 words mid-month and keep cruising to an 80,000+-word finish.
I, on the other hand, will putt-putt-putt my way through the month, but I believe I will reach the 50,000-word goal. I wasn’t so sure of that until yesterday.
I usually love Week One, when anything is possible and choices are infinite. Having started several NaNos with nothing more than a character name and an un-popped kernel of an idea, it’s hard to imagine starting with even less, but I did this year. I chose a character name, age, and gender on November first. I gave him what I thought was an interesting personality trait. And then I gave him a problem.
It worked. I wrote 2,000 words, and generated three rough but interesting ideas in the process. On November second, I created a funny sidekick character, wrote another 2,000 words, and came up with a very vague idea of how to reach beyond my usual story strategies to try something completely new and different. I wanted to break out of my usual style of realistic-with-a-touch-of-goofy. I was playing with ghosts. Ghosts! (I don’t do ghosts.)
On November third, I had no clue how to proceed with my vague idea. Worse, it didn’t excite me. I gave my 2,000 words to Harriet and let her story inspire and challenge me.
On November fourth, I wrote 22 words and decided to wait for the weekend to regroup. Four thousand words behind my desired pace isn’t dreadful.
November fifth. Ah, November fifth. I got up early. I turned on the colorful ceiling lights. I made tea. I lit candles. I sat down at the keyboard, and I journaled. I thought through my fingers.
I didn’t like my story. I didn’t want to just stretch my writing muscles and revel in the wondrous and astonishing NaNo experience; I wanted my NaNo effort to help advance one of my current projects. There’s so much I’m trying to do; it would be nice to add extra juice to something I’m already cooking rather than drizzle a tiny bit into yet another pot. Already, there aren’t enough burners on the stove for all I’ve got brewing. Narrow your focus, consolidate, specialize, niche down—these things are hard for me.
I actually thought about writing 50,000 words of a new needlework class—or three. I have a backlog of classes and projects I hope to create. But, oh, writing a novel is so fun!
How about a needlework novel? Hmm…maybe. I tapped out some ideas in my journal. How about a Stitching for Literacy novel? Hmm…possibly. I cranked out some ideas for this one. How about an Ari’s Garden novel? Hmm…I let my fingers do the thinking and they clicked out several ideas, which led to more ideas, which led to more, which started to get more detailed, and led to characters with names and personality traits, goals, and problems. Ideas, like raindrops on a window, began to move, join together, and flow. (Oh, yeah, it’s NaNo season. Time to write crap.)
I pulled out story structures and plugged the ideas into them: The Hero’s Journey, three acts connected by major turning points. Connections between the plot and subplot boiled up like geysers. Oh, dear dog, I had an outline! Not to mention buckets of enthusiasm.
And so I started writing.
It is November 6th, and I have just over 10,000 words. That’s 2,000 words behind where I’d be if Life and I were perfect, but it’s a fine place to be. In fact, I’d rather be here with the story I’ve got than to be 2,000 words ahead with the story I had.
I can’t wait to see what the NaNo magic does to these ideas.
As of Day 7. I finally leap above the steady-as-she-goes gray line after floating aimlessly beneath the line during Week One.
I am so grateful Harriet nudged me into this. And I am so grateful to hang out with and be inspired by all you smart, thoughtful, and creative people here. Thanks, all!
Psst, Ziggy! How’s it going?
Categories: Children's writing