26 October 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012

We're now less than a week away from the 1 November start date of NaNoWriMo and this has led me to question participating again this year. I've been working on the second draft of the novel I began during last year's NaNoWriMo. I'm little more than halfway through. I feel really good about the revisions so far, and I'm finding more confidence as I progress. I'd like to complete the second draft before beginning a new novel, but I have my doubts that I can/will.

I also don't really have anything to work with yet for another novel. I have absolutely no interest in any kind of sequel to my still nameless novel. There's no appeal for me in world-building. Of course, at this time last year I only had the very basic premise (a 15 year class reunion). I didn't even have the antagonists or any conflicts in mind, and those didn't come along until after I'd already begun to write.

I have had a few ideas for this year's NaNoWriMo, but they're not particularly thought out. I'm interested to try to write outside the home. Maybe hole up at the library for a bit, or stake out a table in the middle of the night at Waffle House, that kind of thing. I think it could be interesting to draw on the ambiance of a public setting, though I'm very wary about taking my laptop out and about. Should anything happen to it, I cannot afford a replacement. There's absolutely no way I could write a novel by hand.

I've also considered a Christmastime setting, though not necessarily a Christmas story. Think Die Hard here. A lot of people don't even remember that it's set at Christmastime, but it is. I wouldn't write a story about Santa Claus or some kind of melodramatic Christmas miracle type thing. Just mentioning things like wreaths and "Blue Christmas" playing, those kinds of details. I dunno why that interests me right now, but it kinda does.

The third idea I've considered is the only one that actually corresponds to the narrative itself, and that's a (very) fictionalized account of my experience being hospitalized last October at Our Lady of Peace for severe depression. I'm not so interested in recounting that as I am in telling a story that might help people get a better understanding what patients like me go through not just in such a facility, but once we're discharged. My idea would be to open at the hospital, but then follow at least one character out of there and back into his/her/hir daily life. It's something that I think would be very satisfying if I pulled it off, but it's also something that I find intimidating.

I'm aware that the majority of NaNoWriMo participants are largely just throwing things on a wall, trying to hit that 50k word goal. Some writers may hash out extensive outlines and do research, etc., ahead of time but I think most participants are less organized. There are lots of ideas that are written one day, creating plot threads that are abandoned two days later. Rather than delete the now-extraneous passage, the writer plows ahead just trying to hit 50k.

In a lot of ways, I got lucky last year. I've only deleted two passages outright. One, I wrote early when I wasn't sure whether to have one character feel sick the night before the reunion. I decided I wanted him to drink, though, and if he had just been nauseated the night before he probably wouldn't imbibe. That was a decision I made the very next day after writing a few paragraphs about him lying down.

The other passage was a sort of placeholder that teased some back story I ultimately found wasn't needed by the story. That consisted of three paragraphs that I simply deleted a few days ago during the rewrite. Otherwise, the edits I've made have all been about fine-tuning. Lots of repetitive words ("finally" appeared way too frequently), some unclear descriptions, that kind of thing. The narrative itself, though, has remained intact.

Part of me is apprehensive about writing a second novel so relatively soon. Remember, I didn't actually finish in November. I became sidetracked by personal life issues and didn't resume writing until late January. Still, I also feel like it's okay if all I do is throw a lot of stuff on a wall to hit 50k this year because I've already had one such novel come out of that process okay.

I've still got a week before I have to make the final decision about participation. We'll see.

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