The Wake

(Before I launch into commentary about day one of NaNoWriMo, I want to express my condolences to the families of the 165 fatalities that resulted due to Hurricane Sandy’s path of destruction — my deepest sympathies for your loss.  Hopefully that number will not continue to climb…)

At 10:30-ish, Wednesday night, I thought I’d perhaps I’d stay up until midnight and try to bang out the first 500 words of my NaNoWriMo day one goal… at 11:00 P.M. I decided to go to bed.  Last year I was sick after I’d completed my NaNoWriMo project… this year, I’m sick before.  No, No, No… this is not a plea for sympathy: it’s allergies (not the shingles, thankfully), accompanied by a fair set of discomforts which add to the difficulty of focusing on my writing.  I went to bed at 11:00 because I decided that I needed the rest and that I would catch up in the afternoon, after work, when I seem to be the most productive (I’ve trained myself to be so).  Out of the gate I wrote two chapters which total to just over 4400 words (if the widget is working, you can see my progress in the upper left hand corner of this blog page… due to traffic on the NaNoWriMo servers last night, the widget was not working so you may only see a broken link).  NaNoWriMo’s recommended daily goal is 1667 words — if you write this many words a day you will finish in thirty days.  If I maintain the rate I established right out of the gate, I can finish my novel by November 11th… that, of course is not going to happen.  I wanted 5000 words to start, but it just didn’t happen.  By the time I quit last night I was really beginning to feel like shit, and I decided not to push it.

So day two of NaNoWriMo is pretty much just operating in the wake of day one.  The first week or so, based on my write experience from last year, is pretty energetic.  Week two and week three are where it turns dreadful, where you really start to feel the burn of the undertaking.  I didn’t make it to week four last year — I quietly finished my novel at the beginning of week three, and then patiently waited for the OLL team to open the validation feature of the NaNoWriMo site.  I imagine week four is where the real frenzy happens, where desperation sets in and people just gun it to finish.  That works; it’s amazing the kind of inspiration that’s engendered by a little desperation.  Necessity is the mother of invention after all, and the necessity to finish the project you committed to finish can wake the muse in ways you never thought possible.

When I was younger I used to think I was the sort of guy who liked to work under pressure; that I did my best work under pressure.  Now that I’m older I know that I’m just a lazy procrastinator and that I get things done under pressure due to desperation… hence why I wrote what I wrote above.  I’ve also learned the value of planning, and despite the fact that I have some uncanny psychological aversion to outlining, it’s been to my benefit to identify a few key elements of the story before I plunge into it.  Before I start writing I need to know how the story will begin, and how it will end.  The rest I make up as I go along.  Uber-awesome, WriMo Daddy, Chris Baty is famous for saying, “no plot, no problem.”  Well, for me that’s not entirely true… I need a plot sketch, that’s all… not a detailed map (I’m unbearably jealous of people who can generate those gorgeous play-by-play plot outlines, just like I’m unbearably jealous of people that can fall asleep anywhere and at any time)… with a simple plot sketch and chapter sample (I mentioned Chapter 0 previously, I think) I can proceed.

Thus I’m off to continue my quest to bring a shiny, new novel into existence.  Here is a picture of me after just one day of NaNoWriMo (notice how chubby and happy I look, still smiling… that will change):

I’ll post another picture mid-month so we can have a before and after comparison… it might improve just a little since (hopefully) I won’t be congested anymore by then.  No post next week, I’ll be out of town and away from the computer (by choice) celebrating my wedding anniversary.  Write on, people.



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