Anybody else out there writing a book right now? Writing a book really fast? I am trying to. Well, not a book exactly. Let's not call it that. Too intimidating. It's a draft, that's all. For some reason I feel sheepish admitting I'm participating in NaNoWriMo -- maybe because I feel like I should be able to do this without tricks by now? Well. I'd begun writing this particular book some months ago, and immediately fell into my usual trap of tending the first chapter like it's a garden that needs constant care, rather than moving forward into the rest of the story. Anybody else do that? Work on that first chapter like it's the showcase of all your talent ever and must be perfectperfectperfect? Ugh. That gets so wearisome.
It got so wearisome the book was un-fun before it was really begun, and I'd been dreaming of this book, dying to sink my teeth into it for months, and then. . . bluhhhhh. So, I gave myself a play day to do some fun writing like back in the good old days of Sunday Scribblings when odd and wonderful little stories were hatching at my fingertips. And that day was the most fun I'd had writing in ages. It was GLEE. And I let it seduce me and I started working on that instead. And you'll never guess what happened.
Or, maybe you will.
As soon as "newt" stopped being an evasion and became instead my new work, it pretty instantly became hard and un-fun too. Fancy that. So, what to do? Fate intervened in the form of the blog conference, a trip to California, a visit from mother-in-law, final Silksinger revisions, and a new set of Laini's Ladies to design, and I didn't write much for weeks and when I was ready to go again, it was October 31 and NaNoWriMo was starting and I'd been toying with the idea noncommitally for a while. Some of my writing friends have been working all year on revisions of books they wrote first drafts of last NaNo, and they were such cheerleaders for it, it kind of got me thinking maybe even MY white-knuckled, uptight, persnickity writing brain could do this. If I try rillyrilly hard, and force myself not to treat this draft like some magical garden that needs constant loving care, but more like our actual yard, which we take absolute minimal care of in the form of a grudging once-a-year weeding and Jim's sporadic mowings. . . If I treat this draft like my yard and let it be totally frowzy, then maybe I can do it!
So, at the beginning of Day 7, how is it going? I am happy to report, 16,066 totally frowzy words, some in third person, some in first, some in present tense, some in past. A distressing lack of dialogue and characterization. Flat cardboard people, very little dramatic tension (though someone died on page two -- that was a shocker), little or no sense of place. . . and, what's that? . . . Snick snick snick! Snicks all over the place. People. [My friends.] The story is happening. You write to find the story, right? And I am finding it. The knee-high weeds in my manuscript are unveiling all manner of mysterious and wonderful things. Artifacts, fossils, predators, corpses, lovers. Wheeeee!
So I'm feeling pretty good! I know the persnickity me will catch up and assert herself and start hyperventilating over the mess and drastic badness, and I will try to deal with that and get through 24 more days of this. The pep talks help. This week we got emails from Jonathan Stroud and Philip Pullman, and both had gems in them. Like this, from Philip Pullman, who is one of my heroes anyway:
"The question authors get asked more than any other is "Where do you get your ideas from?" And we all find a way of answering which we hope isn't arrogant or discouraging. What I usually say is "I don't know where they come from, but I know where they come to: they come to my desk, and if I'm not there, they go away again." That's just another way of emphasising the importance of regular work."
Wonderful! Any other NaNo-ers? I want to add more Writing Buddies to my list, but I don't really know how to find people.
Speaking of wonderful, I have not yet mentioned that the candidate Jim and I did some phonebanking for WON -- Jeff Merkley is the new Senator-elect from Oregon. Woo hooooooo! He was on the Jim Lehrer show last night, which was way cool! Now, two progressive senators from Oregon, rather than one with televangelist hair who's always canceling out the other one's good votes! I'm thrilled by the voter turnout nation wide, thrilled with some of the states that went "blue," and unthrilled with a few things, namely: Michelle Bachmann, Prop 8, and Al Franken. Ach, Minnesota, you are responsible for 2 of 3 of my disappointments. Michelle Bachmann! For realsies???? Oh, and I guess I should add Alaska and Ted Stevens to the list, but that's more like incredulity than disappointment. I suppose I shouldn't even be incredulous. This is Palin-land, after all. Have you been hearing all the stuff coming out about Palin now? What a piece of work. Oh, and as for Al Franken: I still have hope. If memory serves, the Washington gubernatorial race in 04 came out for the Republican by a very narrow margin, and the Democrat, Christine Gregoire, won in the recount. So, fingers crossed for Al!
(Jim and Alexandra and me on election night)
And I am so excited to hear who Obama's cabinet appointments will be. Heard a wonderful rumor about RFK Jr for the EPA. Can you imagine? I feel giddy: an EPA chief who actually cares about protecting the environment? Could it BE?? It's a new world!