Monday, October 09, 2006

Another chapter edited...

...another 1000 words on the new novel. It feels nice to be in both a writing and editing groove again after an extended period of doing neither. What's more, a friend has challenged me to do National Novel Writing Month this year. I'm seriously thinking about giving it a shot -- depending on where I am with the edit of Confessions, that is -- if only to say that I did it, as NaNoWriMo was one of my original inspirations for getting back to writing in the first place.

From the NaNoWriMo FAQ:

1) If you don't do it now, you probably never will. Novel writing is mostly a "one day" event. As in "One day, I'd like to write a novel." Here's the truth: 99% of us, if left to our own devices, would never make the time to write a novel. It's just so far outside our normal lives that it constantly slips down to the bottom of our to-do lists. The structure of NaNoWriMo forces you to put away all those self-defeating worries and START. Once you have the first five chapters under your belt, the rest will come easily. Or painfully. But it will come. And you'll have friends to help you see it through to 50k.

2) Aiming low is the best way to succeed. With entry-level novel writing, shooting for the moon is the surest way to get nowhere. With high expectations, everything you write will sound cheesy and awkward. Once you start evaluating your story in terms of word count, you take that pressure off yourself. And you'll start surprising yourself with a great bit of dialogue here and a ingenious plot twist there. Characters will start doing things you never expected, taking the story places you'd never imagined. There will be much execrable prose, yes. But amidst the crap, there will be beauty. A lot of it.

3) Art for art's sake does wonderful things to you. It makes you laugh. It makes you cry. It makes you want to take naps and go places wearing funny pants. Doing something just for the hell of it is a wonderful antidote to all the chores and "must-dos" of daily life. Writing a novel in a month is both exhilarating and stupid, and we would all do well to invite a little more spontaneous stupidity into our lives.

I can't say enough for this approach. Indy cartoonist James Kolchalka sums it up best when he says that Craft Is The Enemy, as nowhere does the Perfect do more harm to the Good than in the realm of the creative arts. Learning how to silence one's internal perfectionist is the most difficult thing about the writing process. What NaNoWriMo does is make an end run around that inner voice by forcing you not only to produce, but to seal the deal by the end of the month as well (as finishing a work is also a hard thing to learn how to do!).

I'll let you all know whether I decide to take the leap or not as November approaches -- in the meantime, I'll keep plugging and chugging away at the projects already on the table...

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