Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Post Nano Wrap Up

It’s now December 16th which means half a month ago I finished writing my novel. I’ve wanted to catch up on blogging during these two weeks, but I’ve just today recovered enough to put any kind of coherent entry together. During November I was suffering from a condition I call “writing-stupidity” for which the only known cure is TV and movies (and cupcakes, I guess).

What is writing-stupidity? It’s basically when so much time and concentration has gone into a writing project that the brain’s thoughts have been squeezed out of it like toothpaste. The first words to go are names, then adjectives (which is almost a benefit), then verbs (which is not), until before you know it you’re asking your sweetie if he wants to eat a “ummm… you know?… that food that goes in the toaster… with squares and the sugar sauce?” for dinner. (When it gets really bad I cut the word pizza into my arm Memento-style so I won’t starve when I’m away from home.)

But all that’s behind me now. The sweet, beautiful English language is back in my brain, and I can summon the words I need at will! Like, cantankerous! Or crinoline! Or persnickety! Or prestidigitation!

On second thought I hate all those words, but I have lots more to choose from!

Now that my brain is back, I can take a clear-eyed look at what I actually wrote in November. For the first time in the four years I’ve been participating in Nanowrimo, this year I sat down and re-read what I had written. Folks, it was surprisingly not terrible.

It’s true that the timeline makes no sense whatsoever, the science is sketchy at best, minor characters change gender with a frequency Mrs. Doubtfire would envy, and one side character is surprised over and over again to learn that hookworms can cure his asthma, but if you overlook those small problems, the book is not garbage. Not garbage is a big jump up from my prior Novelling attempts. (And before you get all optimistic and ask me how I know the other books were garbage if I never read them, let me assure you that I know. I know the way a mother gerbil knows which of her children to raise and which to eat. Those books were losers.)

The best part of having a draft that’s not garbage is that I now have something to edit. Now the purely creative side of me that’s been slaving away for the past month can go take a nap while the internal editor gets to work. The purely creative part has been LAZY all these years, so the internal editor’s never had a novel to work on before. She’s psyched.

To be honest, the next step will involve a little more writing, but now I’ll have the big picture to show me what needs to be written and how it fits into the wider whole. My goal for December is to have an outline of the book with a list of scenes I still need to write. I also want to do some reorganizing to make sure that the dramatic action falls in the right places. That means no hard core writing until I have the outline straightened out. Hooray for a few more weeks of tv!