Monday, October 20, 2008

ToNaNo or NoToNaNo?

I have a problem. A good problem to have, but a problem nonetheless. Call it a dilemma, a quandary, or any other silly word you can think of for a decision that has to be made in an ambiguous situation.

I need to decide whether or not I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year.

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. In the month of November, ambitious amateur, and professional writers all across the world unite in one desire: to write a novel of 50,o00 words in 30 days, starting on November 1st and finishing on November 30th. It need not be edited and it will not be good, but it must be finished. To do so, one must write about 1,700 words per day, every day. It's a mad month, but there is a lot of support available. There are online tools accessible through the NaNoWriMo site to help participants track their writing and post it for review and encouragement. People meet in cafes and bars to write and bitch about writing. It's supposed to be a grand old time, but I wouldn't know. I've never done it.

The first NaNoWriMo to come to my attention was when I was in college, as was the second and third. I would have participated then, but I wanted to not fail all my classes. In retrospect, I could have pulled it off, but that was before I realized that I could pretty effortlessly write 1k words per day. The fourth and fifth NaNoWriMos, last year and the year before, it was a girlfriend I wanted to keep.

Now, though, I find myself in a delightfully enviable and frustrating position. Thanks to my commute and a newfound sense of dedication, I have been writing a lot, 1k a day at least. As a result I am hip deep in a new novel. My job situation is such that I can't be 100% certain that I will have it next year, and the opportunity to take advantage of my commute to finally, finally do NaNoWriMo is almost too good to pass up.

The trouble is, I know how bad I am at picking things up once I've put them down. If I put Rat and Starling on hiatus - say, to write my steampunk dreamscape idea - I'm afraid I'll never get back to it. The crazy energy I've been riding will be lost and Rat and Starling will never get finished, or it will but it will take me four years, like it did with A Knight of the Land.

I guess there's always next year.

Actually, my current position is this: I'm going to keep on working on Rat and Starling, and if I happen to run out of steam or want a break at the end of October, I'll jump into NaNoWriMo. If not, however, I'll keep at it with Rat and Starling and do NaNoWriMo next year, which is sad, but hardly tragic.

Anyway, if you're reading this, I encourage you to check out NaNoWriMo. It's supposed to be lots of fun. Maybe I can enjoy it vicariously, through you.


Unknown said...

why not just use nano to write 50,000 more words on rat and starling? (it's 50,000, right?)
then you can keep working on it, and do something halfway in the spirit of nano. and if you manage to *finish* rat and starling, then it will have done its job.
Maybe what I'm suggesting is a sin against nano, I'm not sure. I'm not a writer, so I don't care. but I think its a good use of time ^_^

Unknown said...

Can't you write a little page and a half synopsis at the end of wherever you stop writing? Just a little blurb saying where the story goes? Then you can write whatever and pick up and drop things as you please?
Creativity is a muscle, flex it to much it gets sore, but then it grows back stronger! as long as you know where each story goes you'll never lose your 'steam'.

Anonymous said...

I could just use NaNo as an excuse, but then I'd feel bad about it. You see, it's not the excuse to write. I've gotten really good about that. It's the community. I'd feel weird about participating when really I'm playing a different game than everyone else.

I could try that, Alexander, but it doesn't really work too well for me, as a rule. Whenever I've tried things like that, it hasn't gone well.