It’s November third, which means it’s day three of NaNoWriMo: what you might call a literary event, held every year, in which hundreds (thousands?) of writers sit down for a couple hours a day all November long and try to crank out a novel (or, at least, 50,000 words). It’s a task I’ve tried twice and completed once, both a long, long time ago. The time I “won” (they love their supportive and potentially over-the-top language on the NaNoWriMo site), I never ended up finishing the novel (even if 50,000 words were a full novel draft, which it ain’t, a first draft is not a finished product, I don’t care who you are), though I worked on it for a couple years after that. The novel I eventually did end up completing, which is in my agent’s (and several potential publishers’–eek! wish me luck!) hands at the moment, was the product of maybe five years all together, writing connected stories, figuring out my character, cobbling things together–about as opposite as you can get from the NaNoWriMo model. Because as much as people will tell you to spit out the first draft quickly and then fix it up later, that’s not how I work. New ideas come to me. I reroute and redirect. I comb through the old before I try to untangle the new.
So that’s why I’m NaNoWriMo-ing. Because it’s not me. Because I never work from an outline or spit things out quickly or write without looking back. And I will not cave to all those who would say that’s a bad thing, but I do believe that writers need to keep trying new things. I don’t want to write the same story over and over again, so why should I always write the same way? So this time, I have an outline (at least, through two-thirds of the book–plus a pretty good idea of the ending), and I’m plugging away during my baby’s naps and after the kids are sleeping and whatever stolen moments I need. And I’m already feeling the old urge to polish up the sentences before moving on but I won’t do it. Instead, I’m taking to the internet to publicly remind myself of why I’m doing this and how it is to be done.
That wast three hundred and seventy-nine words. Do they count toward my total?