I’ve made it halfway through my NaNoWriMo challenge for this year, actually on time and on target for a change. This is novel – pun intended – but I don’t want to jinx myself, because there’s still half a month to fall behind and fail. Which I’ve done in several Novembers of the past.
Before I started I had ideas about sharing it, thinking it might motivate me to write more and better if someone was reading along, but I couldn’t bring myself to trust anyone with it, and as I got started… well, I haven’t written anything much worth sharing!
I’m juggling a lot of different character perspectives, and not sticking with any of them for any great length of time, so the story itself hasn’t actually progressed very far. I haven’t even started all the characters waiting to be written, so I’m definitely not going to be short of things to write. But I’m already running into silly narrative conflicts and having to retcon or earmark for fixing later down the line.
But there are a few things really bothering me about this whole experience that never bothered me before. First, I’m just getting the thoughts down without any sense of detail or emotional commitment to anything or anyone. It’s never been an issue for me to connect with any character I write, to get into their thoughts and senses and contextualise every scene with descriptive prose. I’m even pretty good at it, when I get going (read: have a bottle of something on the go). But I’m also working between writing sessions, so I can’t indulge in my usual bottled muse, and I think my writing is pretty bland and boring as a result. The process is a lot like writing my dissertation, getting it all down, notes, ideas, brainfarts, knowing all the while that the next draft will look nothing like the current draft.
I can’t look at what I’m writing as being anything like the end result, otherwise I’ll be so wretchedly depressed with myself I wouldn’t have made it even this far. Get all the ideas down, even if it reads like a robot wrote it, GET IT DOWN!
The other thing that’s bothering me is the realisation that one characters is a lot like me at a particular point in my life, sharing my resentments and bitterness – albeit with better issues and a grander supporting narrative – and it’s making it really hard to push through to them. All of my other characters are getting solid (if not especially committed) third person perspectives, but I keep defaulting to omniscient person perspective for just this one character so far. It bothers me that I can’t seem to give them a voice. :(
But, like I said, get it all down and come back to it later. The next draft will look nothing like the first draft, and the final draft will look nothing like the second draft.
I’m juggling a few challenges this month, including some 30 day fitness challenges that my cats are enjoying more than I am (ever tried to plank for a minute and a half with two cats sitting on your bum?), and AcaWriMo, which is the academic writing equivalent of NaNoWriMo. AcaWriMo is falling a bit behind as I’m back to doing more reading, but I think I’m going to count the pages I read into my progress, because it’s still progress! And there will be a burst of writing coming up as a result. (Also, marking essays, which is occupying most of my time, but isn’t nearly as engaging as griping about my NaNoWriMoWoes.)