I learned a lot in the NaNoWriMo adventure:
Keeping to a vigorous writing schedule; pushing your story out of the weeds – the boring stuff like endless description and interior musing – out to the middle of the lake where the action is; it’s hard work so it must be worth it, right?
I learned to push my characters overboard and leave the in the wake of danger to see what they would do. One day I had this conversation with myself:
Me: This story is boring.Boy, was that ever fun! There’s nothing like a house on fire to get a story moving again. Creating mayhem for my main character to deal with was so entertaining that I mugged her daughter in a subsequent chapter.
Self: Burn her house down.
Me: I can’t do that! I love that house!
Self: Burn it down NOW! I’ll get the gas can. You light the match.
Me: Gulp. Okay.
I learned that good friends will tolerate conversation about your plots characters far longer than they will listen to stories about your grandchildren. They offer ideas on plots, you steal their ideas and put them in your novel, they are delighted and everyone wins.
It’s fun to open up your email see a message of encouragement from Lemony Snickett.
Writing a novel on a deadline gives you a perfect excuse to stop grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning the house, doing laundry, all the chores that sustain life, because you no longer have a life. It’s a terrific time management tool:
Me: Okay, where do I have 4 to 6 hours in my day today to write my 1,667 words?The only downer is the inevitable question from people who don’t write novels. Right up there with the “I’m sorry your baby died, but you can have another one” response is this: “Do you have a publisher?” I wrote a decent draft in a month. It takes about three years to get a book published I’m told, but we’ll see. That’s the polite answer.
My Calendar: Sorry toots, you have 3 meetings scheduled today. Not happening today.
Me: Reaching for a red pen: That one goes, that one goes, Ah there’s the time.
I finished the first draft of my book last night. I promised myself I would wrap Christmas presents today. But here I am. Like an alcoholic who has to have a drink to face the day, I am compelled to exorcise my demons and darlings before I’ve even combed my hair. If you don’t get a Christmas present from me, that’s why.