Breaking the Embargo

Free at last! November has come to a close, and with it came the long-awaited conclusion of National Novel Writing Month. As you no doubt remember, Constant Reader, I had this year made good on my promise from, well, last year, and actually undertaken to write the requisite 50,000 words by month’s end.

So what, you may ask, do I have to show for it?

Why, this flashy little icon:

That’s right, I uploaded the final document (weighing in at a superfluous 50,006 words) last night, with more than five hours to spare before midnight local time. I managed about 6000 words and change yesterday, though admittedly much of my recollection of the writing is more than a little bit blurry. I do seem to recall my post-apocalyptic science-fiction story taking on a distinctly Victornian novel feeling, which was more than a little bit disconcerting. Fortunately, whether or not the novel is any good can be left up to the publishers and agents of the world, whose rejection slips are already providing me with kindling for those winter fires.

Now that the NaNoWriMo rush is over, I can finally start focusing on all those other things that I’ve been ignoring as I immersed myself in a world of my creation. There are more photos from the Irish Vision Quest to put up; letters to write to lovely agents, magazines, and publishers; and all that wonderful Christmas shopping to do.

There’s also a chance to start exploring some of the other ideas that have fallen by the wayside while the novel demanded my full attention. With the deadline of the end of November lingering over my head, any time spent writing had to be devoted to the novel. Thus, ideas for other books, short stories, comic book scripts, and even this blog were sidelined. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the ideas stop coming, which is I’m sure at least partially responsible for the novel’s sudden resemblance to a comedy of manners.

The past month has also given me a taste of what it might be like to write for a living, albeit with not much in the way of the income department. Though, actually, I suppose that’s about on par for novelists. As much as I enjoy writing, it’s intensely draining at times—there are days where you just can’t string two words together, no matter how hard you try. Or you suddenly become all too aware of words that you lean on like crutches. I found myself wincing every time I wrote ‘turned.’ Normally on days like this, I would consider just giving up, but with the competition as a motivator, I made a point of slogging through the tough spots and found that more often than not you can break through that wall, though you may end up coverd in a pile of literary debris.

It has helped beyond expression to have had the support of family and friends throughout November. They have fed me, housed me, taken me to the occasional movie and indulged me in the throes of my novel-induced rantings. I’ve jaunted from Washington D.C. to Philadelphia to Boston to Rochester to Chicago, and have been lucky enough to be among friendly faces wherever I’ve gone.

It’s kind of like being Neil Gaiman, only on a very very small scale.

Anyway, though the battle may be won, the war is far from over. I’ve written 50,000 words, but the story is at best halfway done and I’m beginning to suspect that it’s not even that far. The finished first volume was just over 100,000 words; that was a big milestone for me, but it’s also had the effect of making novel-writing considerably less daunting. If I finished one novel, why not two?

Well, I suppose there’s always National Novel Finishing Month for that.

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[…] I took a minute to look over my post-mortem from last year’s event, the first that I managed to complete, and found that most of the things I said there held this year, despite the fact that I’ve been writing professionally for nine months now. There are still days where I feel like I can’t produce an intelligible sentence, and I still hate writing the word “turned” (add to that any form of the word “look”). […]

[…] I looked back on my wrap-up posts from 2005 and 2006, and found that last year I wrote this: I’m looking forward to finishing this story […]

[…] and, by definition, the fourth year of performing a post-mortem on the experience (you can read the first three years’ entries if you’re feeling […]

[…] what the past five years of NaNoWriMo have taught […]



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