My independent progressive version of nanowrimo began the way Eliot said the world would end–not with a bang, but a whimper.
I mean, simply, that it didn’t live up to the hype. The reckless energy, the sense of ecstatic release at finally actually writing, the long hours struggling to meet a word count, the frenetic writing madness, vast amounts of caffeine and insomnia–all these things were strangely absent from my life.
At least, as absent as they ever are. Which isn’t very.
I discovered, with some disappointment, that I slightly overestimated my powers of productivity. Apparently I’ve accustomed myself to a writing stints of 1000-1500 words. My chapters tend to be about that long as well.
I also discovered, with some glee, the reckless, inordinate, numinous way that fantasy writing gets into the blood. There’s a subtle independence to story, that draws life from the writer-self. Or, more correctly, the intersection of the writer-self and the individual moments, the fusion of thought and setting.
Which is a clever way of admitting I didn’t outline first.
It’s true, though. Something numinous takes over, and that exact combination of words and imagination could never happen except in that moment. Even major plot decisions are, to some extent, influenced by when I’m making them.
For instance, I opted out of both the training sequence and the fight with the wildcat this weekend. I looked at my characters–protagonist and teacher. It’s a venerable pairing, used in almost every fantasy since Star Wars. I could think of about seventy excellent cliches to put them in.
That wasn’t encouraging.
I backed away from the setting, stock as it was, and began asking myself about the particular characters. How would the one train the other? Not just, what would he say, what would he do?
And, I wondered, what made him suddenly so vindictive all the time?
I forced myself to write. Away went the wildcat. Away went the sparring sequence. In walked the temple raid.
Wait, said my internal editor. Where did this temple come from?
Truth be told, it had been there all the time. I found it through the words of the moment, and the decisions I watched my characters make. Once I understood why the swordmaster had become so vindictive, everything else became clear.
“Remember—you’re loud, you’re slow, you’re incapable. Run.”
It took a good bit of work. But I’ve met my self-imposed goal two days out of three, breaking 2k word mark Sunday and Tuesday. Some stats, for those interested:
- Day 1:
Initial Word Count — 19543
Concluding Word Count — 21580
- Day 2:
IWC: 21563 (I edit my previous day’s writing, cutting out around 50-100 words a day).
CWC: 22755 (Monday. What can I say?)
- Day 3:
Total Time Writing: about 8hrs.
This is just the novel, by the way. I have other project, like The Paradoxes here, that I’m trying to keep going.
In the midst of this all, I’m happy to report that I found time to read Jane Austen, feed my new addiction to Dr. Who, and have a prolonged conversation with an old friend.
(Eating, sleeping, and sundry should be assumed by the reader unless otherwise noted.)
The whimper, in case you were wondering, was mine, upon realizing that my Grand Idea for A Chapter took only 1500 words, and I needed to come up with another. So, with reluctance, my characters dragged me whimpering to confront the dreaded training sequence.
Temple, what temple?