December 1st, 2009

dream on

NaNoWriMo debrief.

What with everything this month, I really thought I wasn't going to make it.

In the nick of time. Seven hours left.

This feels a little weird, and not as elating as last year, even though arguably last year was a win by technicality alone, with all the unrelated digression that took place when the words wouldn't come[1], while this year at least I wrote a coherent narrative.

But after the late start, the unplanned funeral trip and a few busy evenings of, among others, seeing to the kid, the whole thing became a grueling death march where I had to average between 2,000 and 2,500 words for each actual writing day to even stand a chance to catch up later. Not very fun.

Still, the above is mostly me crashing from the relief of it being freaking done, because all in all the experience was very positive, and good lessons were learned. Writing one particular scene moved me to tears, something that had not happened to me in a bit under a decade[2].

Since I had a setting and a good backstory but no proper plot, I went for a series of thematically relevant vignettes, which turned out to be a great idea: soon plot fragments emerged on their own. With a good external focus help, like a nicely rhythmic electroethnic CD[3] going a loop in the headphones, I managed to 'trance out' into writing mode a few times, where it even became easy for the course of a few hundred words.

Then there was the impromptu trip, and I went for a brief flashback to keep myself busy until I was back, but I returned so tired and anxious about my lateness and so afraid I wasn't going to get back into the writing groove, that I ended up stretching the 'brief flashback' for over 20,000 words, not far from half of the whole work, which sort of derailed the rest of the writing. This bothers me, because I had the building blocks of, I think, a pretty good story in there, and in the end I didn't stop very far from the beginning. Main character didn't even get to discover the power in her that is central to the theme!

Next time: manage to be less tired, and don't be so afraid to cut scenes shorter. Tiredness kills the writing spirit.

And also learn to aim low. My urge to go for tales of epic proportions is just not reasonable in the context of NaNoWriMo.

It also turns out that when I need to stretch things beyond all reason I can be a complete bastard to my characters, to the point of making George R. R. Martin look like a kindly old gentleman. (Which he is, I doubt not. Just not to his characters.)

So, what now? I'll sleep, I think. Perhaps, if I have the courage, I'll keep writing this. Just not now. I'm a bit burnt out.

But god dammit, I did it.

[1] Last year, mostly, I was trying to see if I could make myself sit at the table long enough to write 50,000 words worth of content. That a story emerged was a pure accident.
[2] Arguably, the exhaustion helped. It was easily 2am by then. That will make anyone a bit mushy.
[3] Lost Eden, by Stéphane Picq. Still my favorite writing music after a decade. Yes, those are the musics of the video game of the same name.