Go figure! Just when I ended my last post with the very optimistic comment that nothing would stop me now, what else happens but something that could stop me! Ugh. I should have known better than to jinx my writing progress!
I won't go into details because I'm such a private person, but something rather significant came up that most definitely did take all my time, energy and focus away from writing. I didn't write at all last week, and am now struggling to get back into it. C'est la vie! The distraction was certainly something important enough to cause such an upset to my routine. I'm not upset with myself for not writing -- it was entirely appropriate to set it aside under the circumstances -- but now it's time to get back to work. I can still finish JASPER within December if I get a move on.
Current status on JASPER, after cutting and editing again, and adding a little: around 28k, in Chapter 10. Goal: 60k to 65k.
I did finish the JACK & JILL story last night, coming in at just over 70k. I'm not sure on the ending. It was a surprise to me. There was another ending I had envisioned, and which I might want to write after all when I do the editing. This ending is intriguing, but I'm not sure about it. Can't say more, unfortunately.
Now, I'll go back to JASPER and start on that tonight, to finish it. Before I dive back into the writing, I want to rethink the story in basic outline terms, just to make sure I feel solid about going into the second half of ACT II, which is always the most difficult part to write. I know I had intended JASPER to be one I write off-the-cuff, in order to reconnect with unfettered creativity, but to put it bluntly I've found I do have access to my creativity even when working from an outline, and I feel a lot better having a sense of what I'm doing. It saves a lot of time and produces better results. I'll do what I did recently with basic outlining of the JACK & JILL story -- I actually used my own walk-thru from the GAY MAN'S GUIDE TO WRITING FANTASY FICTION and wrote my notes in a simple text editor. A couple of hours to work through it, think it through again, edit, change, improve, was well worth the time. I'll also take time to reread, since it's been a few weeks now when I took off from JASPER to do JACK & JILL for Nano.
I hope to finish JASPER in about two weeks, three at the most, definitely within December. Then I'll edit both JASPER and JACK & JILL. I'll make complete copies available to Beta Readers once I have edited them, for feedback to use in final editing and polishing. The Beta Reader versions would be available in January, 2008, both as encrypted eBooks and on my new password-protected blog.
Oh, and it's December. That's okay. I'm on a roll. Ain't nuthin' stoppin' me now!
I took a couple of days off as Nano concluded but now I'm back at work. Each of the past two days I wrote about 6k words on the story, which is now surpassing 60k, the original word count goal. I'm in Act III, have gotten past the Darkest Hour and am about to write the part where the MC makes the decision to act and prepares himself for the next big confrontation, the final one of the story. I'm estimating another 10k to 15k words to finish this out. It should fly by as I get into it.
Sure enough, the story has picked up again. I felt like I lost the way for a while, in the second half of Act II. That's normal, the part where a writer thinks "this is utter *@%@! and nobody would ever want to read it!". Thank goodness I revisited my notes, sorted out the few things that were weakening the story, and got it back on track. I have learned more again doing this story -- every new story teaches me something new and helps me get better at applying the strategies I am using to write and manage the work. I see constant progress, probably because I constantly work at it.
One nice thing I saw happening as I solved these recent plot issues was that I was able to turn things around from stuff that "happens" to decisions the MC makes. Sometimes, juggling so much new material during a first draft, the MC ends up going along for the ride. I guess it's hard to depict the MC as decisive if I'm not sure of the decision to be made or what's going to happen next -- I have the general idea, but I didn't plot out the details for this novel. I'm using "intuition", which is fine, but it just means I have to go back and fix some things to draw a more direct line between them, and recast things as decisions. Just a little focusing work in the editing, nothing too much.
I like the story again, and that's the main thing. For a while I was wondering, but I've gotten past that stage, fairly quickly and fairly painlessly. It IS a cool story. I'm finding between the JASPER story and this one that it is much easier to work with the material if I just KEEP IT SIMPLE. I tend to make everything so complicated, with so much symbolism and other levels of interpretation, etc. It's just the way my mind works. I see that complexity, and I tend to want to put it into the story. If I just keep it simple, concrete, and work with that focus, then all these other things will work their way in anyway -- I can't not write that stuff -- but it will be anchored to something that is more tangible and satisfying to the Reader. Stories are much easier to write if you keep an emphasis on a simple, uncluttered, concrete plotline. Then, work with that, to your heart's content.
Back to work. In another day or two, I hope to report that JACK & JILL, Draft 1, is finished.
I recently closed the PWP site for retooling. I reopened it today, Dec. 1st, to invite people curious about it to learn more and consider taking part. I hope to get a group of about 6-8 serious writers together to help each other with feedback and also to take advantage of the Parallel Writing idea.
If anyone wishes to link to the site, please link to my main web site address:
It will come as no surprise, of course, to those who follow my blog. I hit 50k fairly easily this time. When I first did Nano two years ago, I also hit 50k, but it seemed like a much bigger adventure then. I had never done that before and wasn't sure I could. Since then I've written many thousands of words in any given month, and I knew going into this Nano that I certainly could do it, so it was only a matter of putting in the time and effort to do it. It was much less gratifying than it was the first time, since the mystery of "can I?" was no longer there. But it does feel good to have accomplished a lot during this month.
I do have to wonder though whether there is really any point to my doing Nano again after this. I think I need to focus on my own writing goals throughout the year and do what I need to do, regardless of the Nano schedule. I was in the middle of the JASPER novel and set it aside to take up something new just for Nano. It was kind of silly to do that just because it's November. If I had trouble getting words down or something, then I could see where I would benefit from that extra push, but I've been working steadily at my writing and have greatly increased my output over time, so other than the opportunity to network with other writers (significant in itself), there is no reason I would need to do Nano for anything other than kicks. I think it's great for those who need the push, but we don't all need that.
Also, I have mixed feelings about the whole Nano thing. I think it's a great idea, don't get me wrong, and I strongly support the general concept. However, there are thousands of inexperienced novice writers doing Nano each year who have no idea what they're getting themselves into. It's a marathon for the sake of a marathon, with a lot of hopes and dreams tied up in it. Most of them fail to reach their goals. I read that this was a very hard year with more than the usual number falling by the wayside. I don't know the numbers, but previously 5 out of 6 people failed to reach 50k within the month. Setting up 5 out of 6 people to fail is questionable in my view.
Also, I don't know that I much enjoy seeing so many forum questions by writers who not only don't have a clue, but who never will, simply because they only "think" they want to write a novel, but once they discover how much hard work it is, they'll just give up. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who wants to write to do so, but isn't there something to be said for participants' having some realistic notion of what they're doing? If they're truly committed, they'll keep at it. They'll learn and grow, as I have been working so hard to do over time. I guess it just bothers me to see postings in the forums like "help save my plot" and "put a zebra in your story because I said so". We can all use plot help from time to time -- I'm referring to those particular pleas from clueless individuals who will never get a clue no matter how much you try to help them. They'll just give up and walk away because they didn't really make the commitment in the first place. They're not writers, they're thrill-seekers and the marathon is too much to resist.
Perhaps Nano is beneficial in that it can draw in more potential writers, encourage them, and out of the mayhem those who are committed will find the support and encouragement they need. It's just awkward to post alongside people that I know are there on a whim and who will ultimately give up and not bother to really bring themselves to a point of understanding what it was all about in the first place (meaning those details that writers know about but readers aren't generally aware of).
There is one positive aspect of Nano that I am very impressed with, and that is the way it is getting more people interested in writing and therefore books. With sales of novels for adults falling off, it's good that so many young people get caught up in Nano-fever. Many teachers get their classes involved, which I imagine must make a typical school writing class much more interesting. That's a wonderful thing and I strongly support it. Nano-mania is spreading around the world. At a time when DVD's and MP3's and other forms of electronic entertainment are distracting us from reading books, such an interest in writing and reading should be strongly encouraged.
There is one other issue I have with the Nano forums, which is that they have not yet created a separate forum for GLBT lit. They have one for "Chick-Lit" and other genres, but the Nano elite do not regard GLBT literature as a genre in itself, or GLBT writers as deserving a place to congregate. For the past three years I've read the arguments that are invariably posted on this, wherein GLBT folks request a form for themselves and are denied it. I even posted on this myself previously. It makes no difference. I can't help but feel that people just don't "get it".
GLBT individuals deal with very unique circumstances. They have a unique culture, which is rich and varied. They deal with issues that are similar to what other groups deal with, yet the issues GLBT individuals face are unique. Scholars recognize "African-American Literature" and "Women's Literature". It's time people allowed themselves to understand that there IS such as thing as "GLBT Literature". I know in scholarly circles there is some disagreement still, so it should not surprise me that the Nano elite also don't quite "get it". To keep it very, very simple, let me just say that to deal with prejudice is something blacks, women and gays have in common. However, the particular types of prejudice, the ways in which they manifest themselves, and the types of discrimination that these groups deal with is unique. Also, who these people are is unique. Their mindset, culture, life experiences are unique when seen in light of their membership in an oppressed minority. I could go on at length, but I'll stop there.
So, I will have to think it over before signing up for Nano in the future. I think it's a great idea, but I'm not sure it's right for me.
Best wishes to all Nano winners, Nano-almost-winners, Nano-"I gave up after 3k"-ers, and all the rest of you who did or did not, who would or would not, take part in the craziness that is Nano. If any noobies got a taste of something wonderful and decide they are in it for the long-haul, then that at least was worthwhile.