Sunday, November 21, 2010

National Novel Writing Month: Dispatches From My Living Room #6

--by Hanje Richards

Yes, I am still at it. I am still working on my NaNoWriMo novel, 50,000 words due by 11:59pm on November 30. I have to admit it has gotten harder, and my pace has slowed, but I am still close enough to the goal that I have no doubt that I will finish on or before the deadline.

Will I have a novel I can send to an agent or a publisher on December 1? Not likely. What I will have is 50,000 words, some of them actually in the right order, that I can use to shape something that might eventually be readable. This, my friends, is way closer than I have ever been to the dream of writing a novel or a memoir, and although there is a very significant end point on November 30, in many ways, for me it is just the beginning.

First and probably most important, I think I have finally incorporated writing into a daily practice. That in and of itself is huge for me. Since this started, I have only skipped one day of writing. Before, I wasn’t consistent in the number of words written or the number of minutes or hours spent at the keyboard but, for 19 of the past 20 days, I have written every morning.

Second, although some of it is complete junk, there are things that I have written in the past 20 days that are starting to tell a story. They are starting to tell a story that I really want to tell. When I have recovered from the NaNoWriMo challenge, I hope to start weaving the pieces together, editing that which doesn’t work, adding what is missing, and having something at the end of that process.

I have 11 days left, four of which are days off from work and pretty much all other responsibilities. I missed that one day, and have fallen short of my 1,667 words per day a few times, so in addition to resting, I hope to use the long Thanksgiving weekend to get completely caught up on my word count.

I have had days (like yesterday) which are harder than others. In fact, the first few days were the easiest. I think now I have to dig deeper, and the thought process tends to take me places that I didn’t plan to go, or even want to go, and getting back to the task at hand is not as easy as it was in the first week or so.

When I started all of this 20 days ago, I had all sorts of rules for myself. I had taken all my books and movies back to the library. After about Day 15, I started checking books out. Like crazy. I have been checking out memoirs. I have been checking out books about writing. I have them in stacks in my living room and in my bedroom, and I just ache to read something. To just lie down on the couch and read someone else’s words, thoughts, insights. I also checked out a movie yesterday. (I have been surviving fine on TV series from Netflix and shows that I have stored on my DVR at home). But yesterday someone returned a movie that had been recommended to me and I just checked it out.

I have been reading the same (not very long) novel since the contest started, and I am slightly over 50% done. I am reading Ape House by Sara Gruen, which is not a very long book, and I am reading it on my Kindle. Last night, after I dropped my Kindle on my face three times in a row, I decided that I was too tired to read any more.

I am working in a couple of hours, so I will wrap this up and try to log a few more of my 50,000 words. Before I do that though, I want to thank everyone who has been encouraging to me during this process. Everyone who drops a note on Facebook or asks me how it is going, or leaves comments on the blog….thanks so much… it is really helping to keep me going!