Write on

nano_07_winner_small.gifAnd so it is done. Tonight I met my goal of writing a novel in the month of November (where 1 novel = 50,000 words), and one whole day early to boot. This is the third consecutive year that I’ve managed to complete the contest, and it feels good. In some ways, however, this year was less satisfying, largely because of the story that I’ve been working on, which was not as close to me as the books I’ve worked on in years past. I decided to take a break from the science-fiction trilogy that I’ve been writing on and off for the past eight years and try something—in the words of Monty Python—completely different.

Was it a success? Not entirely: I had only the barest idea of plot and characters, and that clearly showed as I ended up writing myself in circles—sometimes literally (I started to get the feeling that my story resembled a scene from one of those classic comedy films where people are all running back and forth through the doors in a hallway). But my goal was to cleanse my palate and try to write something totally different, and in that sense, I feel much more energized about getting back to my other books.

Ironically, 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 sometime in the next year, perhaps just in time to start with a wholly new idea for next year’s NaNoWriMo.

Well, I didn’t finish that story, but I did start something entirely new. Now I’m thinking that I’ve finally got a chance to finish what I started. Hopefully.

I was a little worried that the fact that I was working full-time this year would interfere with writing, but it turns out that concern was misplaced—it seems having little to no social life means a heck of a lot of time for writing. And Rock Band. Greeeeat. The one downside to writing for work and for pleasure is that you feel your abilities getting duller—knives need sharpening from time to time.

So now what? November rolls to a frigid close tomorrow, and I’m free of any obligation to write (other than the usual day-to-day work stuff). But I’ve got a book that needs some editing, and another that needs finishing, so there’s always that (writing; it’s the gift that keeps on taking). I feel like maybe I need a break, but at the same time, I want to keep the momentum going.

Did I learn anything this year? Well, having last year expanded to having virtual writing buddies, this year I decided to partake in a little more flesh-and-blood community by going to a number of organized write-ins in the Boston area. They ranged from the poorly attended (four or five people), to the chockfull (there were probably close to twenty at the kickoff event on November 1st). Was it beneficial? It’s nice to have company, especially given that I spend so much time on my own, but it’s also hard to be social with a bunch of people typing away on their laptops. But, hey, it’s nice to get out of the house if nothing else.

As with every year, I’d like to think that by the time we roll around to next year, I’ll actually be on my way to getting something published, rather than just sending all these words off into the ether. But, I’m still glad that I decided to participate and I’ll almost certainly do it again next year (Jason expressed an interest in writing a novel next year; perhaps we could have a Doombot edition).

The real question: do I have another novel in me? Sure, somewhere. If nothing else, writing one novel gets you thinking about all the things that don’t quite fit in it that you could be putting somewhere else.

Hey, practice makes perfect, right?

And now, we work on that sitcom! C’mon, STL practically writes itself!

something totally different
Can you elaborate?