As we approach the end of the month – and hopefully the end of our novels – we hear the roar of the crowds up ahead as others cross the finish line and earn their bright purple winner’s widget. Chris Baty seems to think this energizes us, but I’m finding that I am slogging along in a funk, wondering which way is the finish line. I am more tired than I expected to be, less sure (not more) that these words come close to being a novel at all. But it truly is almost over. If we can hold on three more days – today, tomorrow, and Friday – we will have survived a crash course in writing. A novel? Maybe some day. A first draft? At the moment I’m not even sure mine is that. A bunch of words? Okay, a bunch of words that may or may not be something that can be polished into a work of art. But … but …
I have exercised my imagination muscle in ways it never thought it could move!
And now I can imagine being a “real” writer. Ahem, let me explain that. A writer is one who writes, right? And we have all been doing that. Hurray for us! “The moving finger writes; and, having writ, moves on.” That’s a quote from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, which I have posted on the sidebar of my Weekend Wordsmith blog, here: http://weekendwordsmith.blogspot.com/
Having writ, as Omar Khayyam says, it is now almost time for us to move on. Some of us will move on to revision of our masterpieces; some of us will simply move on. If it turns out, upon close inspection, that we have not written the greatest novel of the twenty-first century, then we are free to pick a fragment from this month’s efforts and expand on that … or write about any idea that crosses our expanded minds … because we can all say now that we are writers. Try it. Repeat after me:
The New York Times has released its 100 Notable Books of the Year, which will appear in the print edition of the Book Review on December 2. How many of them have you read?
There's an Edith Wharton biography on the list that may be even more interesting if you also read the article Wharton Letter Reopens a Mystery by Charles McGrath. It's about a letter written by Wharton that was found in a copy of The House of Mirth. Want to know what the mystery is all about? Well, for that you'd better read the article.
Light green and red show where I was above or below the goal for the day, bold green and red are reserved for days where I did exceptionally well or monumentally badly. I'm happy to say that I'm less than 100 words below where I need to be by Tuesday evening. In other words, I'm ahead. Yes, ahead of schedule. I'm surprised, but very pleased.
Day 01 = 1,708 Day 02 = 3,337 Day 03 = 4,469 Day 04 = 5,402 Day 05 = 6,912 Day 06 = 7,227 Day 07 = 8,191 Day 08 = 10,805 Day 09 = 11,192 Day 10 = 13,181 Day 11 = 15,103 Day 12 = 18,237 Day 13 = 20,166 Day 14 = 22,008
Do you want to know what surprised me the most about writing this novel? Let me take you to the answer in a round-about way:
It turned out that Chattanooga, the fourth largest city in Tennessee, had no official group because we had no "ML" ... which stands for Municipal Liaison. You know me, and you probably know what I'd do, right? I'd get a group of us together one way or the other. It turned out that someone who had been an ML several times would be in Chattanooga during November. She volunteered (Tennessee is called the volunteer state, so she fits right in) to be our ML, and two minutes into November she was made our official liaison! Hurray for us! She won't be here next year, so I volunteered to be next year's ML. She thought that was a great idea ... until she learned this is my very first year, which means my very first attempt to write 50K words in 30 days. Yes, that's 50,000 words. Since we were in the flush of week one, she advised that I hold off.
Week Two arrived, and I (along with every other NaNoWriMo newbie, most likely) wondered why I had thought I could do this. At one point during Week Two, my word count was behind almost 4,000 words ... counting the 1,667 needed per day to make the total by the end of the month. Nevertheless, I was trying to do all the events the ML set up for Chattanooga, even though everyone else arrived at the write-ins with laptops ... and I had my tablet and pens. I figured the write-ins were making things worse for me, since I could be home using my computer to blast away at the word count.
I've been to three write-ins so far, but ... SURPRISE !!! ... I am catching up on the number of words written! Even at the write-ins I scrawled out more words than I thought could be written by hand. There were 15-minute word wars, where we tried to beat our previous 15-minute count, and ... SURPRISE ... I wrote faster and faster each time. I discovered that the fellowship of others with the same goal of writing 50,000 words inspired me to keep going. I have now almost caught up with the daily count, and our ML said the final week brings a rush of words. She says we can make it even if we don't hit 20,000 words until November 20th. Look at my word count above. See that? I have already passed 22,000 words.
Thanks to all of you who keep posting a sentence or two, telling me you think I can do it, that I can make it to the end and actually have 50,000 words when I finish the day on November 30th. You know what? I'm doing it!
I'm a little bit behind, but today's word count moved me considerably closer to being on target for making the 50,000 words by the end of November. Oh, for those of you who don't know, I'm a part of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) for the first time. We try to write a 50,000-word rough draft FROM SCRATCH during the thirty days of this single month. I have almost 11,000 words now. The main thing keeping me going is the agony of having to admit defeat after telling all of you I'm doing this. Really. And that is part of the strategy. I can't quit because I'd have to face YOU. Therefore, I'll make it to 50,000 words, won't I? Yes, I'm determined.
In two days I wrote 3,337 words, exactly three words over and beyond the minimum of 3,334 needed (at 1,667 per day) to make it to my 50,000 word goal by 11:59 pm on November 30th. However, on this third day of the month, I have looked over those 3,337 words and found it all to be conspicuously egregious! (Well, those were Roary's words when he snorted near my ear earlier today. Unfortunately, I agree with him.) Now what? I have also thought of a two-part problem that may "fix" the faults before this novel runs into a ditch ... and I may be able to salvage some of what I've written. Probably a lot of it. Maybe. Gotta see what happens next. Gotta get busy writing.
Today I have been inspired by Absolute Vanilla, who has discovered a thinking toaster who reflects its thoughts! Yes, indeedy, one must consider all angles when trying to write a novel. If an errant toaster is helpful, so much the better! And thanks again to Ab Vanilla for this idea: "Bonnie - there'd be a great children's story in the magic toaster with thoughts of its own..." I took a look at my toaster, painted white, and it doesn't seem to have a mind of its own at all. Oh, well.