Thursday, October 17, 2013

NaNoWriMo and Me



I've written six novels, five of them with the help and support of NaNoWriMo and my writer's group.

The first novel you can read here on the site for free. I'm toying with the idea of going back to it and doing some revisions. There weren't many that happened as it was being written as I was working on a self-imposed deadline of 1500 words published a week. Each story took four weeks to tell and the entire thing took a little over a year. 13 stories that interconnected called The Long Range. Perhaps once I've done the revisions I might self-publish it.

Some of it's fun, some of it shows promise and all of it is ambitious. As I was writing it, I heard about NaNoWriMo. Too late to participate that year, but I signed up the next year and dove in headfirst.

That first novel is full of bad, bad writing and interesting if unrealized ideas that I carried over in the following year's novel. I would have liked to have taken that novel to some more places but I knew it was merely an exercise in seeing if I could repeat the previous year's success by finishing with more words in less time.

I did.

The writing was only marginally better and the plot - if one could say there was one - was thin in so many places that it looked like a ragged sheet hanging on a lamppost during a hurricane. After I reread what I'd written, I toyed with the idea of combining the two novels into one, expanding the good ideas and tossing the bad ones.

Alas I failed to do that. It's still on my bucket list for 'someday' as I'm still happy with the ideas and I know a lot more about plotting and how to fix things so that they make a great deal more sense.

Part of what fascinates me, and makes me a writer, is moving on from something I've accomplished to something new. It's not often that I go back to look over things that I do to learn from the doing of them. A friend once marveled at the number of stories and novels I have in The Trunk. "I'd go crazy if I had that much unpublished work," he said. "It should be making money."

Well, yeah, it should if it was good enough. I know enough about the business to know that self-publishing sub-par work is bad. Every novel I've written during NaNoWriMo has been a learning experience. What I learned each time has been different, too. Mostly I'm learning craft and refining my methods for writing.

The biggest thing that's helped me and taught me the most is that I can blast out words in a word-sprint and their BETTER than they were three years ago, or even last year. That old adage about practice making perfect is true. It's also how you get to Carnegie Hall, right?

The other thing NaNo taught me is that writing every day is the best way to be successful. One learns how to be better every time fingers touch keys.

The third novel I wrote petered out after 65,000 words. I didn't know the end. I still don't.  My fourth is the one that came together and I've spent a good deal of time on. Editing, revising, refining, submitting, etc... It's a good story, it's well-written (or so I've been told) and I'm trying to get it sold.

Last year's novel was ostensibly the sequel to the fourth and even though I knew the ending, it petered out, too. 67,000 words, that one. I've been thinking about it ever since. That's the story I want to write again, having learned a lot more since the end of November last year.

All this of course causes well-springs of other ideas to fountain upwards into my consciousness. Another idea has sparked my imagination and that would lead to what I think could be the best idea I've ever had for a novel, even though I'm nowhere near competent enough to even attempt it.

So this year's NaNoWriMo is going to teach me something. I don't know what it'll be but I'm going to apply everything I've learned so far.

I'm looking forward to it.

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