Well, another November is cruising toward us, and that means it’s time for–you guessed it!–another episode of National Novel Writing Month, except that in my case it’s National Novel Finishing Month and actually what I aim to finish this year is a novella, so I guess that means it’s…look, let’s just go with it.
I don’t do any of the forums or insane word-tracking, I generally don’t start a new novel (that’s the LAST thing I need right now!) and I am anyway going out of town for a bit on the first week of November. But I love the energy and the dogged determination of NaNoWriMo, I love the acknowledgment that sitting down and writing is important stuff, and I’m all for it.
There are people every year who sneer and say “That’s not how REAL writers do it! They work on it every day all year and you people are just hobbyists who don’t count!”
To these people, I say “Eh, stick it in your ear.”
I, as it happens, am a real writer, according to the IRS, who is frankly the only authority that counts. You can call me a hack or not-a-novelist, as most of my income derives from books with a wordcount in the 15K range, and I will allow as how both or either of these things may be true. You can tell me that my prose lacks deathlessness or wit, and I will nod seriously and agree that it’s a problem. Nevertheless, I’m making my living writing and illustrating so I say it’s broccoli and I say to hell with it.
There are many writers who do indeed sit down and turn out their wordcount every single solitary day in workmanlike fashion, and I salute them.
Me, I go in jags. I had days this summer when that one novella was really cookin’ and I’d slam out nine thousand words on it. I have days when I do no writing at all. (I call those “weekends.”) In fact, I have whole weeks when nothing gets written. (Shock! Horror!) But three out of five days, in a normal week, sometimes more, sometimes less, I go to my nice little local cafe and pop open my laptop and type a minimum of a thousand words.
However—and this is the important bit in this rant—I do not type them all on the same project until it is done.
Generally I limit myself to one thing to work on a day, although sometimes I don’t even do that.
I am not saying that it’s not important to finish your projects. It is vitally important. If you never finish anything, it doesn’t get done and you have nothing to sell. But that said, you do not necessarily have to pick one and work it all the way through to the end, start to finish, unless that happens to be the only way that you ever get things done (You know better than I do whether or not you can be trusted to come back to a project or whether you are a chronic abandoner-for-shiny-new-idea.)
Now, I finish stuff. And I finish it by not writing sometimes and writing a whole lot at other times, and that works for me. It may not work for you, but if you believe that that the One True Way To Write is to sit down every single day and make a word count on one single project until it is done all the way through and nothing else is acceptable and you are a faker and a hobbyist for cramming it all into one month a year, I cordially invite you to pay the taxes on all those books that I did not write that way.
Now, I have at least a half-dozen unfinished things out there, loitering in the 15-to-30K range, and I can be pretty confident that better than half of them will someday be finished.* They will get finished because I slap five or ten thousand words on them a few times a year, and then one day there’s enough there that A) I convince my agent to convince someone to buy it (Bread Wizard) which means that I have to finish it in a timely and dogged fashion, or B) I am suddenly skidding down the cliff toward the climax and it’s time to finish off that sucker (Beauty & the Beast based Novella From This Summer, Hamster Princess Vol 1, etc.)
So my goal for NaNoWhateverTheHellMo this year is as follows:
- Finally Finish The Thing With The Goblins (currently at 35K)
- Put at least 10K on Armadillo Wizard (currently 18K. Huh. How is it only 18K? Weird.)
- Put 10K on one of the other projects
Possible interference: Bread Wizard edits are due fairly soon, and that could knock at least one the projects off the board. But Armadillo Wizard has a tentative home and I need to hammer it into shape. I expect it’ll turn out middling novella length. And the Goblin novella was last poked two years ago and is still a damn good story that deserves some love. (Still nearly impossible to sell, given weird format/audience/length, and my agent has definitely given it the ol’ college try, but at least it’ll be DONE.)
Hmm, I should really cook up a list of currently live projects and their word counts, just for my own reference. I tend to forget things are on my hard drive and how nearly done they are, and then I’m surprised…
Anyway! NaNoFiMo ahoy!
*Some are probably dead. Them’s the breaks. Some of them may seem to be dead for quite some time and will suddenly rise, zombie-like, from the grave. You never really know.