This will be my last post on the topic of NaNoWriMo for this year, as last night, when the sun had gone to bed and the fingers of frost were clawing at my window I did what I had long thought impossible. I finished.
Well I say finished. More accurately I passed the 50,000 word mark. The titanic wordascope that I have been plugging away at all November is by no means ‘finished’. Those fifty thousand words in their extant form consist of a prologue, chapters 1 to 10 and the finishing chapter, number 29. Nineteen chapters that were planned sit in an unwritten limbo. I have a beginning, I have an end, but the middle? That’s not even started yet.
NaNo has been an interesting experience if nothing else and I’ve learnt a great many things. Chiefly among these is that no plan survives contact with the enemy. The outline I prepared in late October undoubtedly helped me stagger
to 50,000. Without it I suspect I would have been lost. What I didn’t consider is the sheer scope of just what I would be writing. My initial plan of 1,667 words a chapter was naive and foolish. I oft found myself needing triple that at the very least. I do think a great deal of this was caused by the pressure of NaNo the get the words out and onto the page, just to meet the targets. I can now rightly see why NaNo has its detractors, because in the dash to hit the mark you write an awful lot of real shite. But hidden within the embrace of all those bad words are some nuggets of real gold. Things which in just ten words make the expenditure of ten thousand just to reach them seem utterly worth while. The pressure of time also takes you down some rather unexpected paths. It resulted in me writing something which I at least find heart wrenching and touching. A scene where Dave the 21st century call centre worker meets the enchanting Jennifer Bloom at a party in 1920s New York; the tale of a love that never had a chance to be. Or the shouting match between the aforementioned Dave and Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni. They were things I had never planned to write at all, but happened none the less and without them the character of Dave would be a lot less interesting. Crowley’s drug fuelled dream sequence was another unexpected gem, a gem which in retrospect makes almost no sense at all, but a gem it was nonetheless.
I’ve also learnt that when the chips are down and the clock’s ticking I can in fact write, write like the wind, write like all of hell is chomping at my heels. NaNo has opened a whole new vista of possibility to me. The knowledge that, one day, maybe, just maybe, I might actually finish a book. Will it be this one? Will High Noon in Out Space ever see completion? I don’t yet know. There’s still a lot of it to write. I might plug away at it from time to time. But for now I think I’ve earned myself a bit of a break. 51,828 words take a lot out of a man.
I haven’t yet decided if I’ll ever take part in NaNoWriMo again. Part of me thinks that this one time was enough. I’ve proved I can do it and that I should gracefully retire undefeated. But things change, they always do. When I was asked about this subject on the twitters the best and most fitting reply I could muster to the question of when I’d do NaNo again was “When the idea no longer makes me want to cry.”
I now end this blog post with two things. Firstly some more sexy, sexy graphs. And secondly the chapter remaining chapter mis-quotes.
Chapter 8 – Rhapsody in Grey
“I know I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a heavyweight champion, and I’ll prove it at Anglican-mania at the Hampton Court Arena, in a steel cage match!” – Elizabeth I to Philip II of Spain
“Come one you pansy! You’re not afraid of a girl are you?!”
Chapter 9 – Down in the Gutter
“I be about to get all ecclesiastical all up inside yo’ grill, fool!” – Pope Gregory the Bitchin’
“Cardinals ain’t nothin’ but tricks and hoes”
Chapter 10 – Smoke and Dragons
“I am in your villages, pillaging your dudes.” – Chief Olaf the Somewhat Unruly
“I am not raping them though. That would just be plain rude.”
Chapter 29 – A Long Weekend
“Sancho? What the hell were we smoking?” – The Most Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha
“Please tell me I didn’t try and murder a windmill again.”
The entire story ends with the touching words: “Love is fleeting. Blink and you’ll miss it…”