Holy crap. We’re in the home stretch. I’m in a bit of a state of disbelief that week three of National Novel Writing Month is behind me. It dawns on me that I’ve gotta finish this thing. Soon. Though the guidelines seem to allow for not finishing the story in 30 days, I’m not inclined to go that route. On November 30th, I want to have a beginning, a middle and an end. Period.
How I get there is … well … another matter.
As you can see, I’m 35,280 words into this thing, which means I’ve got 1,394 to write today, if I’m not going to fall behind. I think I can manage that, but I’m worried that I’ve wandered down some paths — some interesting, and necessary paths — that don’t get me closer to completed story by the 30th. I guess I’m the kind of writer who goes where inspiration follows rather than staying the course, but I think it yields things I can make good use of when I get around to revising.
So, I appreciated Aimee Bender’s pep talk.
My job today is to remind you that novel writing is not essay writing, it is not memo writing, and it is not about staying on point. It is just fine, even good, I’d say, if at this point you have no idea what the point of your book is. You are exploring now; you are trying to find the book. You are learning what comes out of you if you take your work seriously like this for a month. You may or may not have an outline, but it doesn’t matter—what we hold in our heads before we write is RARELY in sync with what shows up on the page, and if I were standing and saying this in front of you with a megaphone, I would say this next part especially loud and clear: The Page is All We Get. What shows up on the page? Well, that is your writing. The full-blown perfectly-whole concept you may have in your head? Is just thought. (I don’t mean to be scolding. I do all this too.).
It maybe a character history that comes spilling from my brain and onto the blank screen. It may be a plot twist that only just occurred to me as I commute to or from work. I’m also one of those writers who’s liable to forget something (yes, even it its very important) if I don’t act on it right away. So, I’m torn between following inspiration and finishing the damn story.
Like I said, I want to have a beginning, a middle, and an end by the end of November. Filling in the spaces between the three may require some creativity. If I’m not quite there as the clock ticks down, I’m not above writing short summaries of what’s happening in the story and putting a marker by it to remind me to expand upon it later, if it means I can get on to a more crucial moment in the story.
But, I also need to finish, because I’m the kind of writer that isn’t likely to pick up unfinished work a week, a month, or even years later. If the story’s not done, I’m usually going to be in a far different place when I pick it up than when I put it down. And re-writing a story I didn’t finish writing is, in some ways, even harder than getting started.
I used to have a habit as a reader that I still indulge in. When I pick up a book, I read the first sentence, and then turn to the back of the book and read the very last sentence. Just the last sentence, not the entire ending of the story. That sentence doesn’t tell me how the story ends, but how the writer gets me out of the story after having gotten me into it. It’s something I picked up from suggestions from other writers, and I still think the beginning and end are two of the most important parts of the story. (To this day, I don’t want to watch a movie if I’ve already missed the beginning, or I know I won’t be able to see how it ends.)
So I need a beginning, a middle and end with most of the other stuff there or even just outlined, in order to revise.
But also because I’m likely to start writing something else before I get around to revising.
Already , this week, another novel idea popped into my head. Influenced party by some fo the stuff I’m reading with Parker, and partly because I see a niche that it could fill in the youth fiction market. In fact, on the bus this morning I pulled out the iPhone and made some notes on character names and other ideas that occurred to me.
And I’m not sure I want to wait another year to write it. (I’ve go the "No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit", so maybe I can have my own private NaNoWriMo after the holidays.
In the meantime, I need to finish this one.