It’s been a busy weekend. I’ve been nurturing, and demoralizing, the fiction writer part of me at an “at home writing summit.”
Nurturing because yes, it is great to be able to focus on fiction for a few minutes, to be free of the obligation to tell the story the way other people want me to, to have the chance to achieve the goals I want to achieve with the words I write.
Demoralizing because I have so much work I have been neglecting since, well, a while. A long while.
I’ve been a “member” at NaNoWriMo.org since October 21, 2004. That was the year I wrote my first complete novel. I say complete because I started a novel in the late 1990s but never finished it. I have it around somewhere…digitally…maybe. That was several computers ago.
I’ve won – meaning I wrote at least 50,000 words in 30 days between midnight November 1st and midnight December 1st – six times. And every time has been the same.
I usually shoot for a goal of 2,000 words per day, which is slightly over what the lovely folks at NaNoWriMo headquarters say you need to win.
That extra few words allowed me to ease into Thanksgiving, traditionally my favorite holiday despite it’s smallpox-infected blanket colonizing overtones.
Part of this is because the November Holiday is crazy in my family, or at least it used to be. We’d start around 11:00 with a massive table of snacks. Then we’d move on to dinner. Then pie. So. much. pie.
Between that schedule and the weird joy of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, which yes, they have found a way to do in “these trying times,” <waits while you take a shot>, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance in hell I’d be able to write anything on the actual Day of Eating.
For the NaNoWriMo report cards I could dig up, I was always in the same place mentally at about the same time.
2013, the year I wrote the sci-fi novel I’m now in draft 5 on, that place looked something like this:
AM: I am shit. This book is shit. I have no idea where I am in my plot, and I think I’m going to be short. This is not good. PM: Slightly better. I’ve hit my 50% mark and I have a subplot I don’t really know what to do with.
By the way, in Draft 5, that sci-fi novel is about 30,000 words over what agents and publishers recommend for an unpublished author in that genre.
In 2018, the year I overwrote an erotic lesbian romance novel by about 55,000 words, that place looked a little bit like this:
Feel like a complete fucking phony today. Maybe because today’s scenes are emotionally hard and hit too close to home. Also, I’m not really sure where to go from here.
It’s only fitting that I get to the midpoint in my experimental blogging month that I torture myself with a whole day of good writing advice that my anxiety-oriented brain immediately absorbs and turns into this:
You’ve been working on this book for 7 years. No one cares. And in the way the publishing climate is turning, your story doesn’t matter. You’re white. You’re over 50. Why are you bothering? And why do you call yourself a writer? You’re just a hack.
I’ve written 7,767 words, give or take some statistical issues with counting HTML tags, so far this month. But I’ve written every day. And that is what matters.
I’m going to go pull my book apart now and see if I can make it like the 6 Million Dollar Man.