This year I’m participating (informally) in NaNoWriMo. That’s in November, if you didn’t know. Which means today. Since I’m by nature a night owl, I’ve even put a cot in my office, just in case I drift in to my old natural waking cycle of 10 am to 3 am. I believe it’s called ‘sleep phase disorder.’ But normally, I can’t live like that or I’d never get to spend down time with my husband. And bless him, with a very male sense of practicality, he’s been planning to have to push food under the door, but really, I’m sure I’ll be able to handle coming out for dinner. And of course, I have to come out for tea and re-heating tea. Can’t cope without tea.
Yeah, so, what all this means is I’ll be attempting to write approximately 50,000 words in thirty days. That’s about 167 pages in an adult mass-market paperback at 300 words/page, or 200 pages at the standard of 250 words/page. Nobody expects it to be pretty. But in order to declare this experiment a success, I’ll have to emerge with some sort of structure to the piece, a full shape, at least a working comprehensive snapshot of the desired end product—in short, something I can work with. And I’m just so fascinated by the concept of NaNoWriMo—it’s a really interesting tool. What lured me? I’ve had this novella in my head for over a year now, though most of it’s still undefined, so, unlike my usual, this time I’ll be discovering the story as I go along and leaning pretty heavily on plain old gut-level intuition.
Novellas are hard to sell. I’m told no agent wants to represent an author for her novella. And, no agent wants to represent a debut author’s 183,000-word novel, either, which naturally is what I’m currently shopping to agents. Part of an agent’s job is to sell manuscripts to editors, and editors assume that a debut author won’t have the requisite skill to create a decently-paced and well-written novel of such length. What a pity. No easy path here. But I wasn’t looking for an ‘easy’ path. I wasn’t particularly looking for a hard path, either, but I’ve found most paths worth traveling tend to be hard. And wouldn’t you say this is the basic premise of compelling fiction itself, you wary agents, you? If I’d truly wanted quick money and stability—a safe life—I’d have gone into something far different and stayed there.
Of course, getting anything down is only half the battle. Editing—for me, anyway—is as involved, lengthy, and creative a process as the initial drafting. Who knows how long it will take me to edit something cranked out with such wild abandon? But, hey, this is an experiment. If NaNo works for me, I’ll do it again next year. Some authors do it every year. Maybe November will turn into my crank-out-a-wild-idea season. Who knows?
But no point in getting ahead of myself. Like most adventures, it’s best simply to begin at the beginning, give it a try and see. Right?
Honestly, I don’t know how much of this interests you. This is just a little slice of my thought process here at a project’s earliest stage of development, but maybe it does interest you. Maybe it helps a little. With that in mind, I’m happy to share.
Take care! See you in December!