Last year, I participated in National Novel Writing Month and succeeded in completing a 50,000 word novel in those 30 days. I am still proud of that success and it is in fact the motivating experience behind this blog and my (less successful) 100 Days, 100K experiment. As of now, I am beginning the re-write process on that novel, not only polishing it but expanding it to the more usual 75-100K words. Note that this means my posting on this blog, especially short fiction pieces, will slow noticeably (I’m sure both of you are heartbroken). On the upside — if you can call it that — I will be writing more about the process of writing, specifically in this case about the process of working through a novel re-write (which I have never done before).
NaNoWriMo was fun and hard and exciting and frustrating, but most of all it was the perfect distillation of my greatest weakness as a writer: the desire to get the damn story told, already. Any of you have have read the fiction I post here can likely attest — most of it is short (1000-2000 words) and pretty rough around the edges. Both are strong clues that I sat down with an idea and pushed it out of my head (probably with the help of some wine or a few beers). I like a lot of what I write in that fashion, but when I look at those things later, they are not nearly as strong as other stories that I spend a lot of time on. The novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo was just like that. Obviously, I did not write it all in one sitting, but I did formulate an idea and then push that bastard out as fast and strong as I could. I think the novel has a lot of merit, but it is also rushed and rough.
The interesting thing is that it is not the novel I planned in the weeks leading up to the start of NaNoWriMo. I plotted and worked on another novel for a whole month prior to last November, but when it came time to pull the trigger, I flinched. That idea is too important to me, I think. It feels, in my head, like my Great Novel, and so I am afraid to start it. The novel I did write was much easier, much less important to me. Don’t get me wrong, I like what resulted and I hope that I love what comes out of the rewrite, but I chose that idea among the many floating in my head simply because I thought it was one I could finish in a month. Of course, I did not finish it in a month, because I am about to start finishing it now, but you see my point.
I hope to finish the rewrite before November. If I do and it goes well, resulting in a book I am proud of and feel is my best work, maybe I will take this year’s NaNoWriMo to finally face down that Great Book looming over me.