Something happened to me the other day that utterly and perfectly illustrates my how I’m slowly but surely losing it. On Friday morning, I decided to make myself a turkey sandwich for lunch (per usual). I had one multi-grain sandwich thin left. They are my favorite. I think they might contain magic and fairy dust, but I can’t be sure about it. Anyway, I reached into the fridge and assembled my turkey-sandwich making essentials: sandwich thin, turkey, brie, mustard. Or what I thought was mustard.
Anyway, I’m assembling my sandwich and thinking about my NaNoWriMo novel. I was musing over possible outcomes of an unexpected situation when I realized that for some reason, the mustard was really, really thick and hard to spread.
I picked up the jar and saw why immediately. Instead of mustard, I had tried to spread caramel ice cream topping on my sandwich. On to my last sandwich thin.
Yeah. So, I did what any other self-respecting multi-grain sandwich thin enthusiast would do. I scraped it off and got out the mustard. And then enjoyed a slightly caramel flavored turkey sandwich for lunch that day.
It could have been worse, I guess. But I realized just how scatter-brained I was getting, and I took two days off of writing. On Friday, I got my hair done and ate way too much pizza with Eric and then Saturday we explored Baltimore with my brother and his girlfriend, and I barely even talked about my novel. Okay, well, I wrote about 300 words each day, and MAYBE I mentioned it once or twice. But still. I took a break. And just taking that small breather was enough to clear my mind before I dove right back in and wrote 5,012 words yesterday. It made me a little less crazy.
NaNoWriMo has been an interesting exercise this year. We’re just about finished with Week 2, and as of last night, I had a word count of 27,455 – just over the halfway mark. During the past two weeks, I’ve learned a lot about myself as a writer. It’s no secret that I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo every year since 2005 and failed miserably each time. This is the first time I’ve ever broken 25k. Previously, I had adhered to the school of thought that it’s best to start with something brand new, so I wouldn’t be overly attached to the story or characters.
This year, I decided to do things differently. I’ve had this story in my head for the past nine months – and even wrote the first 10,000 words before Eric and I became engaged and pretty much all of my writing was pushed aside for wedding planning. Once pretty much everything was settled in the wedding department (well, sort of – we still need food, flowers, and music) I took another look at what I had. I wasn’t in love with it, so I scrapped it and started outlining extensively. By the time I was (almost) finished with that, it was mid-October, and the thought of putting Flightless aside and starting something brand new for NaNoWriMo didn’t sit well with me. I started outlining another story, an alternate history/steampunk romance about a mail order bride that has the potential to be a lot of fun, but I kept coming back to Elinor. And on October 30, I made my decision. I was going to jump into Flightless head first.
And I did.
And I was amazed at how easily the words came to me, even during this past week. Writing 2,000 words a day or more isn’t a sustainable pace for the long-term. It’s a breakneck pace, but it’s getting it done.
I’m under no delusions about the quality of this novel. I know that Flightless isn’t going to be anywhere near done at the end of the month, even as a first draft. As I flesh out my outline (and in some cases, depart from it entirely) it’s clear that this needs to be at least 75,000 words long, and probably more like 85,000. It’s going to need some major work once I’m done with the first draft. I don’t think I’m going to let anyone – except maybe Eric, because he puts up with me more than anyone else – read it until some major things are fixed when I revise it. But that’s okay. I’m not expecting perfection. I’m not even expecting it to be good. I just need it to exist, in all of its ugly duckling glory, before I can make it beautiful.
Overall, I’m really, really happy with it. It has good bones. I love my MC. I love everything about her. She’s strong and sassy and really developing with every chapter. This story that has lived in my head and in my heart for so long is finally coming to life on the page and it’s a really exciting thing to see.
How’s November treating you? Are you doing NaNoWriMo?