30 November 2006

The biggest surprise of Nanowrimo

Now that it's 11 a.m. on the 30th of November, and I'm 52,300 or so words into my novel, I'm pleased to report that I am a winner! And in more good news: I didn't fall apart along the way. In fact, the entire experience of writing 50,000 words in a month has been astonishingly pain-free. I've been able to sit down at the computer and write just about every day, and every day I've come up with something worth exploring. I may have to do some heavy lifting and chopping and reorganizing later, but there's a lot to work with and it wasn't so hard to generate it, which is a completely thrilling discovery.

At the table two nights ago, after I had posted my winning total word count and went to the movies, my sweetie asked, what are you thinking? And I said I have this little chant going through my head at all times saying, "You did it! You did it!"

The other one that runs through my mind often is "If I had known it was as easy as setting a goal and then trying to achieve that goal, I would have done it years ago." But I keep trying to cut myself some slack and tell myself that I would not have been ready then. Or maybe I would have but I didn't do it then and I am ready and able now. That's the real point. Being here, now, and not worrying about what might have happened.

So here I am with the first 50,000-and-some words of a novel. I'm just going to keep writing the kind of stuff I want to read and hoping that there are other readers like me out there.

28 November 2006

Stretching the writing mind

And this quote came in too late to make the jacket copy deadline:

"Has broad ass-market appeal."

And this time you get to guess who said it.

That typo was in my excerpt for I don't know how long.

I'm cracking myself up again. This has to be good exercise, all this writing and cracking myself up. Good psychic exercise.

27 November 2006

When I Paint My Masterpiece

I'm hurtling toward the so-called "end" of my story (lately lots of things are appearing in quotation marks), or at least the 50K-word hurdle.

And speaking of quotations, to celebrate closing in with ease on the "final" stretch, I sent out a few excerpts and received some "quotes" for my book jacket:

“A penetrating collection of wit-sharp insights permeated with the soulful exploration of the inner workings of the minds of two richly entangled young women in the high-flying world of fine dining.”
Susan Sontag

Gael Greene

“I eagerly await the sequel. And the prequel. And the two before that, and the four after it.”
George Lucas

“I laughed. I cried.”
Rex Reed

“Finally, she made that goddamned masterpiece she’s been going on about all this time.”
Gore Vidal

46,875 words
so far....

26 November 2006

Day 26: With mere days and a few more words to go

What would MacGyver do, anyway? Here are some things I did instinctively that have helped me feel like I have no doubt I will win Nanowrimo on this, my first try:

* Took my friend Kathy's advice to heart and never let myself get more than a few thousand words behind. And I stayed caught up after that.

* Participated in the occasional cafe session and write-in, including one all-nighter of dubious value (well, okay, I only wrote until 2 a.m. But I was too wired to sleep until about 3:30 a.m.).

* Allowed myself as much caffeine as I felt like consuming.

* Started yet another blog.

* Didn't deny myself cafe treats: coffees and teas and the occasional pastry.

* Listened to my body and adjusted my intake when I overdid it. (The day after the two martinis with dinner was a little disappointing, energy-level-wise. So I didn't do that again this month.) And I'm still taking my vitamins and drinking plenty of liquids.

* In a related move, I made a conscious decision not to take Chris Baty's advice about tricking myself into productivity through increased doses of junk food. I decided this month I would rather develop a writing habit than a junk-food habit.

* Revised my total word count online frequently and watched my little heap of words build up almost daily.

* Posted on the forums when I had something to say or needed a little support.

* Sat down and trusted myself to hear the characters speaking to me. (And it worked! Who knew that's all it takes to get them to come out and play?!)

* Didn't get stuck on any specific rituals or advice -- just sat down and gave myself lots of chances to write. (And when I asked for advice, I got it and it was good.)

* Kept reading and watching movies, which helped me think about why I want to tell my story.

* Not gotten hung up on trying to bring everything in my novel to an end by 50,000 words. I'm just getting going and 50,000 seems like more of a big milestone than the end of the road.

* Spent almost no time editing what I've done. For this lifelong editor, that feels like a real achievement!

44,434 words; only 5566 to go in the next four days!

25 November 2006

Day 25: Arrival at Something, a Milestone

I keep driving deeper into novel territory, and something named Mix Tapes for Boys and Girls is taking shape and crawling out of the murky depths at last. It's all uphill from here, evolutionarily speaking. But it's evolving, darn it! It keeps going places I'm interested in going, and it's turning out to be this sort of vibrant parallel universe endlessly full of friendships and family stuff and crafts to do all the time. Heaven. On wheels. Those wheels that pop down from your shoes when you want them to.

23 November 2006

That thing they always talk about? It's happening.

I am starting to be able to sit down at the keyboard and listen to my characters talk. They're kinda wacky. Like me, but not like me. And they get less like me the closer I listen.

Day 23 of Nanowrimo: 38,446 words, 132 pages of double-spaced text!

And then it's time to finish the darn thing. Perhaps the new motto is 80 K by December 21st.

Oh, yeah!

Soundtrack: Spoon: "My Mathematical Mind"

21 November 2006

If I can dream it, must I do it?

I’ve decided the bravest things I see are the ones I must attempt. If I so admire people on the stage, for example. I need to find a way to do that myself. Now I’m writing a novel. I have 120 pages of a book -- 35,000 words -- I hadn't put together three weeks ago.

Now I can see how I regularly set myself these challenges. To paraphrase the Goethe quote: if you can dream it, do it. My own variation is if I can dream it up I have an obligation to do it. If I think of going to England to interview my favorite band, I should do it. (And I did! And until now, that was one of the best moments of my life!) If I want my character to be good at doing a five-minute stand-up comedy act, I need to try it out for myself. Get in those shoes and stand in front of the crowd. But I would think that, lately, wouldn’t I? I’ve been all about standing up and being heard for a while. A bit ineffectually to date, perhaps, but now a bunch of people are rooting for me, which I am enjoying. I feel I have been getting ready for this along. Alongalong.

08 November 2006

Day 8: Surprises galore

I'm up to 12,000 words so far today, and my Word document is up to 42 pages. It's starting to look like something, even if I don't have much of an inkling about the plot yet. I thought I knew what it was when I started, but I'm still not sure this story is going where I had planned. My character doesn't yet seem quite ruthless enough to pull off the dirty deed I had planned for her, but then again I haven't put her under much pressure yet.

One thing that has surprised me about all of this is that I've been staying on track in terms of writing enough words per day and have still had time to read and watch movies. This is good, because I've been picking up all sorts of inspiring stuff, from Julia Cameron's autobiography, Floor Sample (too bad about the title, but it's an interesting read for anyone creative) to Steve Martin's comedy on Saturday Night Live and in The Jerk, to There Will Never Be Another You by Carolyn See and the Claire Messud novel The Emperor's Children (which I am in the middle of and am finding reassuringly heavy on character and light on plot).

The title of Messud's novel reminds me that ever since reading Ann Patchett's The Magician's Assistant, I still believe that a potential ticket to success is in a title in that same form: The Blank's Blank. Another example: Minette Walters' The Scold's Bridle. Maybe I'll change my current title (Making Mix Tapes for Boys and Girls), since I can't figure out what it has to do with the story and it makes it sound so much like a Nick Hornby book. How about The Foodie's Daughters?

04 November 2006

Travels in my own mind: A fictional adventure

It's day 4 of National Novel Writing Month and this novelista has written 6,300 words so far (22 pages of 12-pt. double-spaced text). I posted a teensy and raw excerpt on the Nanowrimo site. I'm a little shy of where I'd like to be by now but I'm feeling like I'm making progress. Suddenly 44,000 words not only doesn't seem like so much more to write at this pace, but it also doesn't seem like much room to work in some of the themes and scenes I've been jotting down over the last little while.