View of my kitchen table earlier this month.
(Yes, I know it’s the day before Thanksgiving. So what am I thankful for? Spring bulbs to remind me that winter won’t last forever.)
Now that we’re three-quarters of the way through November (aka National Novel Writing Month), I thought I’d give a quick update as to my progress. If you’re not in the know, National Novel Writing Month, known more colloquially as NaNoWriMo, sets writers the challenge of writing 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. These 50,000 words can be for a new novel, or added to a novel-in-progress. In 2009, I wrote the first 50,000 word draft of the novel that would become A GATHERING OF SHADOWS; this year, I chose to add 50,000 words to the first draft of my Next Novel to help bring it to completion in time for my January 2015 fellowship residency at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.
Here’s where I’m at right now:
1. As of this morning, I’ve written just under 36,000 words of the Next Novel this month.
2. This has brought me up to a total of 85,000 words for for my draft.
3. I’m intending to do all I can to hit my goal of 50,000 words this month, though I know it will be tricky with Thanksgiving close at hand.
4. The major difference between my 2009 NaNoWriMo experience and my 2014? I totally pantsed it in 2009, which made much of that draft exploratory in nature. I had no idea how my story would end; I only had a basic idea based on a fragment of a dream I’d had two nights before beginning. Even so, it astonishes me how many of the characters emerged fully formed from my imagination. They didn’t change very much from my first draft through my last, just became more rounded and realized.
5. This year, because I’ve already written and researched much of the Next Novel, I’m working from a detailed outline. In other words, I know how my story is going to end.
6. That written, despite having a detailed outline for this year, I still find the process of writing to be a process of discovery: my characters are surprising me with their histories and peccadillos and unexpected connections. That makes me very happy—I love that my subconscious is working in unexpected ways.
7. Even if I write 50,ooo words this month, will NaNoWriMo leave me with a completed first-chapter-to-last draft of the Next Novel? I’m uncertain. While I’m working my way through my outline, I’m finding places where I’m probably writing more than I need. I suspect I will be cutting or condensing in future drafts.
8. But that’s okay. I understand that this superfluous writing is part of the process of discovering the world of my new novel in all its rich and messy glory. It will also leave me 50,000 words closer to completion than I was on October 31st. For these reasons alone, I am so glad I participated in NaNoWriMo.
Variety, as they say, is the spice of life. Photographed in Paris at the fantastical Galeries Lafayette food hall. Yum!
Photographed recently in Paris of the Musee d’Orsay. The clock reminds me quite happily of The Invention of Hugo Cabret, one of Thea’s favorite books.