Friday, November 7, 2008

NaNoWriMo: Day 7

Well, I'm about a little more than a 1/4 of the way done with the month, and I've written 1/5 of my novel so far. A little more than 10,000 words. I've developed a system - if I can write 1,000 words a weeknight and some 7-8,000 words a weekend, I can finish this thing. I also realized that without distraction, give me an hour, and I can write 1,000 words. Sure, that's only in the first week and I'm sure my motivation will decrease, my ideas will stop flowing or my story will come to an abrupt halt at some point, but so far, I'm pretty pleased.

The folks at NaNoWriMo send pep talks from famous writers to our inbox every week. This week we heard from Philip Pullman, author of The Golden Compass and other stories. I loved all he had to say; his words were very encouraging. He says the hardest page to write is page 70:
All the initial excitement has drained away; you've begun to see all the hideous problems you've set yourself; you are horribly aware of the minute size of your own talent compared to the colossal proportions of the task you've undertaken. That's when you'll want to give up.
That made me laugh, and as someone who is on page 20, I'm not looking forward to page 70. However, maybe remembering what he said about it - power through! - it won't be so bad. The other thing that he said, which I've heard before as well, but is so true, is that you can't write a novel if you're not a reader:

Every novelist I knowevery novelist I've ever heard ofis, or was, a passionate reader. I don't doubt that someone with determination and energy, but who didn't read for pleasure, who only read for information, could actually write a whole novel if they set their mind to it and followed a few rules and guidelines; but would it be worth reading? Would it give any pleasure beyond a mechanically calculated sort? I doubt it. Novels that last and please readers are written because the novelist is intoxicated by the delight and the endlessly renewable joy that comes from engaging with imaginary characterswith story; and that engagement always begins with reading; and if it catches you, it never lets go. Write a novel if you want to win a competition, or impress your friends, or possibly make some moneydo so by all means. But if you're not a lover of stories, a passionate and devoted reader, don't expect your novel to please many readers.

On the other hand, if you do love reading, if you cannot imagine going on a journey without a book in your pocket or your bag, if you fret and fidget and become uncomfortable if you're kept away from your reading for too long, if your worst nightmare is to be marooned on a desert island without a book
then take heart: there are plenty of us like you. And if you tell a story that really engages you, we are all potential readers.
I don't know if being on a desert island without a book is my worst nightmare, but it's up there. Here's to the next 10,000 words.


willikat said...

Yay for you!! I want to read this thing, and I'm very excited to see your process!
One of my favorite creative writing teachers was Michael Dennis Browne, who said "No laughter in the writer, no laughter in the reader; no tears in the writer, no tears in the reader." It's served me well when I've had to write something--feeling it passionately yourself will lead you down the right path.

A. said...

I had Michael Dennis Brown as a guest lecturer in my creative writing class. I really enjoyed him. His quote is perfect.

Em said...

Are you going to share your story when you are finished with it? I would love to try my hand at writing a novel, but I doubt I would ever let anyone read it. Best of luck!

A. said...

I don't think this story will be in any shape to share, say on Dec. 1. But maybe someday, if I keep working on it and making it better.

We'll see. :)