Technically, this month is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), when authors all across the nation feverishly pen a novel in thirty days. Many opt to use it as NaNoEdMo, however, giving themselves an opportunity to revisit a novel and edit the socks off it (and the errors, too, while they’re at it) even though this technically occurs in January or March.
Initially, I wasn’t going to get involved in either. It takes me about a month and a half to write my novels (fantasy/sci-fi, so they aren’t exactly short, sitting at about 100,000 words a’piece), and I was just finishing a novel when November began. I was going to take some time off and plot my next piece before I did anything else.
And I was going to read. I ordered a stack of books about writing from my library and I’ve been slowly getting through them, savoring the thoughts and directions they contain. Reading like a Writer, Wired for Story, and Showing and Telling are the three I’ve read so far, and they’ve all been wonderful, giving me ideas about how to fix some problems I’ve had. Suddenly, I wanted to go back to my first novel and revise some things. I’d never been satisfied with it, and some recent Beta reader feedback concurred with my bad opinion.
So, this weekend, I dove in and started revising. I’m up to page 45, and I’m hoping to get through all three hundred something by the end of November. I’ve been working, on and off, on this novel for eight years now, so you’d think I’d be further than I am. But after all that time, and about a dozen versions of the same manuscript, the same general plot, I finally have an inkling of how to do this thing we call writing.
And, from what I can tell, the real writing takes place in rewriting, when you can’t just throw words out on a page. You have to sit and write, and go away and think. You read, revise, rework, reword, and mull. You spend more time thinking about the story, a phrase here, a sentence there, than you do in actually writing, fingers to the keyboard. You contemplate, and consider, and concentrate. You research and examine, and frown and think and delete huge sections, removing anything that distracts, transforming a fuzzy mass of threads into a cohesive cord, a powerful strand of story.
I applaud all of us who have taken on NaNoWriMo, and NaNoEdMo, and NaNo-anything else, especially if they have a full time job. Racing against the clock and the calendar definitely helps with motivation. Suddenly, you have a goal; you’ve plunged yourself into the frozen surf and are surging with all the others, struggling for the prize, for the finish line, pushing distractions to the waves. We still have two and a half weeks before us. Bonne chance!
Copyright 2014 Andrea Lundgren Photo by wallyir, Creative Commons