How many of you did Nanowrimo this year? It seemed to me that fewer people I knew tried it, but maybe that's just in my part of the world. (For those of you who don't know what this is, you sign on - for free - to write 50,000 words during the month of November - see www.nanowrimo.org .)
When everyone else (I imagined) was madly writing away on their novels, churning through 1668 words a day, I was ... not writing. Well, I was, but I wasn't writing fiction. I was pounding the desk and rubbing my aching head and thinking I was probably more than a tiny bit crazy, and working on my candidature document. This is a thing you have to produce about your PhD project, and then you present yourself in front of a panel who quiz you to see if you know what you're talking about. (Considering I often feel as though I am talking gibberish about all kinds of things, you can see why this was nerve-wracking.) Plus I was writing a talk about verse novels to give at a conference.
Nothing was further from my mind than fiction writing.
Actually, I lie about that. Fiction writing was right there, like a friendly dog waiting to be patted (or written). The more I tried to placate it by saying, "Soon", the snappier it got. Finally, I decided I needed to make a promise. So I told it, "I promise that on the 15th of December, you will have my absolute full attention for a whole month." And it stopped growling at me. Yes, I write poetry and I love metaphors!
Tomorrow is the 8th. I have a week in which to tidy up my life (in more ways than one - my office could be a metaphor for the Apocalypse), finish the academic reading I haven't gotten to yet so I can get those library books back before more fines descend on me, file the 80 articles I have compiled so far and then find the 15,000 words of the novel I wrote on my retreat back in August. I know I printed them out, I just have to find them (see Apocalypse, above).
But during this week I plan to do more than just tidy away all things that have been interrupting my writing for the past 2-3 months. Just knowing that in seven days I will be writing again, I'm already thinking about the novel, the characters, and the plot holes that have emerged. I'm working through new plot ideas, daydreaming about the world I've created, writing down notes, collecting ideas. I want to hit the ground running, not just show up next Monday and go - Now, where was I?
That's the problem with having to put aside a novel for a long period of time. You have to find your way back into its world again, get to know the characters, wriggle back inside your main character's skin or brain, do some "writing around the novel" to feel its wholeness and real-ness again, in order to make it real as you write it.
Once I start on the 8th, I hope to keep working every day on it (probably even Christmas Day, yes), until I have a complete first draft. I have no idea how long it will be but it's middle grade so likely to be around 55,000 words or so. I'm conducting my personal Nano at a time that suits me, with a definite goal in mind. I've done 28 day challenges quite a few times, so I know now that with plenty of thinking time included, I can write 1000-1500 words a day with momentum. That's the key - make a promise and get writing, keep up the momentum and before you know it, you have a novel!