Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Before the Storm

Well, it’s only a week away. NaNoWriMo 2011. 7 days. Not long. I’ve been so caught up with all things Halloween I didn’t even notice. But the day after Halloween, it’ll be time to write like the wind. I better mentally prepare.

After Camp NaNoWriMo in August I was so fried by the whole process that I didn’t even want to think about writing again (thus the severely small number of entries in September). And then, when I did allow myself to start thinking about writing I felt an extreme aversion. Why would I ever want to put myself through that again?

Well, there are a number of things that I am determined to do differently this November in order to make this- god forbid- enjoyable rather than yet another exercise in torture (which most of my writing activities are).

1) I will give myself permission to suck. And I don’t just mean, “well, it needs a lot of revision” or “that section’s going to have to be rewritten”. I mean so unapologetically horrible that no one other than me could possibly enjoy reading it. My last novel, which I continued to work on in August, was supposed to be a serious piece of literary fiction. I was supposed to examine some rather deep philosophical questions. It was supposed to be morally relevant. It was supposed to be an entertaining (hard to achieve) coming of age story. Trying to make it all of those made me extremely wary about what I wrote and padding word count with random observations was not something I did without feeling really, really bad. I can’t go through that again.

A friend of mine has said that she often spends the month of November writing fanfic. Taking her favorite characters from history or fiction and sticking them in random places during certain time periods so she can explore genres she likes. She has said that she is quite confident that what she’s writing is bad but she hasn’t cared because she knows she’s the only one who’s going to read it anyway. That’s what I need to do. I need to give myself free reign to write whatever the hell I want without trying to stick to some ridiculous ideal in my mind. I need to suck. (Which is, funnily enough, exactly what my college professor told me to do so many years ago and which I failed to do and subsequently why I switched majors. Ya-huh.)

2) I am returning to a fun genre: fantastical fiction. My last story, while fictional, was set in the real world. There were no magical creatures, everything obeyed the laws of physics, it was set in a real place that I knew from experience and remained relatively loyal to, and the characters were all human. Boring, and not fun to write.

In this story, my main MC is a centuries old vampire. Her sidekick is a shape shifter that doesn’t even follow the laws of commonly known shape shifters (he can turn into a tree as well as a wolf and just about everything in between- I haven’t decided the limits yet). They work in an X-Files type-of government operation that is super secret and underground (so they’re sort-of secret agents). There will be magic, strange events, a number of strange and fantastical races and creatures and the laws of science will be openly mocked. Fun!

3) I’m aiming for humor and drama rather than philosophical questioning on the nature of life and relationships. My MC from the last book was a giant pain in the ass. She had all the negative qualities that drive me crazy about myself and I had no one to make nearly enough fun of her. Amusing? Maybe. But not funny.

This MC, while being terribly introspective and serious will have a sidekick constantly pointing how ridiculously silly she is and making fun of her for brooding. They will banter. They will snipe. They will play pranks on one another. And in the end, they will develop a police partner- style bond that seems like it would be fun to write (it’s always fun to watch in cop movies, so I’m assuming). And while there has to be some drama because of the need for conflict and a story arc I will strive to keep it brief and spotted with many comments from my secondary MC to point out how ridiculously emo my MC is.

4) I will not hold myself to any set timeline of events. In the last story I had a clear end in mind. There were certain milestones I had to hit in order to come to that end. And I kept on writing more and more in between those milestones so matter how much I wrote (topped out at over 87k words in August) I still wasn’t finished. Torturous, like I said.

This time, although I do have an idea of what I want to have happen, I will not force myself to stick to some script in my head. If I start writing and the plot goes in a completely different direction I will force myself to abandon my previous ideas and just see where I go. If the charters seem to have a natural drive to do stuff I didn’t plan for them I will let them. If people I plan to kill off seem to want to stick around I will use them. If others I plan to involve seem like they kind-of need to die I will be cut-throat. And yes, this may cause my plot to burn out early, before 50k. And you know what? That’s fine. I’d rather have a short, finished story than a never-ending one.

Overall, I’m hoping for this experience to be drastically different than last year’s and this summer’s. I’m hoping to make new and unexpected mistakes. I’m hoping that it comes out jumbled, and incoherent and sucky and that I enjoy it anyway. I mean, yes- ideally I’ll let myself just write and somehow a masterpiece will magically emerge. But I’m preparing myself for it to suck really, really bad and for me to have fun with it. That’s the goal. Stay tuned.

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