Wednesday, November 25, 2009

50572 words written in 25 days

Undertaking the NaNoWriMo challenge has been a very odd experience for me. In short it is to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. I was not thinking of doing it until Rachel asked quite innocently [? -- I think] late in October if I were going to do it. I recollected a novel called "Geneva's Quilts" that I once started and put aside. Why not finally write it, I thought. There is now a sub-genre of books about quilters/quilts with a publisher or two who know how to market them at quilt events and in quilt stores, maybe the book could actually be published. So I signed up and I have been writing. This is not a reasonably way to write a book. It has been both seat-of-the-pants and without a strong drive to make a specific statement.

I had no doubt I could produce the words, although I had only a vague idea of a plot. In fact, I've just reread the synopsis I wrote when I signed up and I find almost nothing in it congruent with what I've been writing. I became interested in my main character, Liz, and the men who come into her life because of her interest. Suddenly I'm writing a romance as much as the original story about the quilt stash she has discovered and the aging quilter who plans to give them all away. I'm not a romance writer -- far from it. I'm so far away, in time and experience, from what is being written by and about twenty-something romances today that I'm a blind man describing and elephant. But, I tell myself, people are people and I find these people unusual enough to be interesting if far from typical twenty-somethings.

Today I hit the 50,000 word goal and am maybe half done with a first draft -- a very sketchy draft in need of enormous rewriting -- and rethinking. I feel as if I'm a dinosaur of very little brain standing at the edge of the La Brea tar pit and likely to begin sinking at any moment ... committing months to actually writing this novel. And then more months, maybe years in the search for publication. And then, if the miracle of publication happens in this changing era of the book business, of course, I cannot hope for anything like a reasonable return on the time invested.

My first impulse was to say, "No, I'm not doing NaNoWriMo." Many first impulses are the ones to go with. I gave in to a slightly stronger, secondary impulse, which is to say yes to the challenges that arise. The tar is warm and sticky. I won't starve while I sink, there are plenty of dead bodies around to gnaw on.

1 comment:

Kass said...

I'm impressed. Maybe as you write, a specific statement will appear. I like the idea of a stash of quilts. It could be so symbolic of so many things. Write and gnaw away....