30 October 2008

To NaNo or Noto

This time last year I was about to embark on NaNoWriMo, but this year has been a different prospect for me. Last year, I was teaching two classes, both on a Tuesday, and as the first Tuesday in November (our final class) was a public holiday, I'd finished teaching by the beginning of November (though I still had late assignments to mark). This year, I'm teaching the same two, and have a Monday class and an online class, which has meant I'm still teaching into the first week of November, and have lots of marking to do.

That was my first strike against doing NaNo this year, because really it is about commitment, a big commitment. Last year I got myself off to a great start by going on a writing retreat with my friend Ellen and was flying, but once I came home that soon tailed off, and by the end of November I found myself with about 5000 words/day to write for three or four days. But I did it. Nothing like a deadline, right?

I still might have embarked on NaNo if I were in writing mode, but I'm currently in the middle of an edit. Or rather the tidy up after the edit -- going through reader comments. I want to get this done and off to my agent, rather than putting it aside and churning out another 50,000 words (as rewarding as that is!). I haven't even read over last year's yet -- that's a job for when this edit's finished. Nor have I worked out how to put my NaNo winner sticker on my blog.

Constancy is the trick to NaNo -- staying on top of the word count, rather than having days off and ending up with a big chase at the end. Constancy is the trick to novel writing full stop! It's much easier when you are immersed in the story: you are thinking, dreaming, breathing it. The cogs are oiled and spinning; the words flow. It's such a magical feeling. Those are the days when it's hard to understand how anyone could not want to write. The counterpoint is the time when the words are mired in mud, when the rejection letters are forming a pyramid in the letterbox, when everything you write seems to be crap. (In hindsight, it doesn't mean they were crap -- it's just a function of the self-confidence rollercoaster that many writers seem to ride.)

So this year I'll have to live NaNo vicariously through Luke, one of my students: the type of student who has sheer the determination and enthusiasm to get him through. I hope he finds it as rewarding as I did -- and maybe next year we can compare word counts as we go. In the meantime, go, Luke!

No comments: