As many of you know, I, along with many of compatriots in the writingsphere, have taken on the NaNoWriMo project (http://www.nanowrimo.org/): writing 50,000 words during the month of November. I've decided to document, in some fashion, this process, by blogging about at the end of each week.
This is quite an undertaking as anyone who is doing it will tell you. Fifty thousand words in 30 days is a minimum of 1,667 words per day, without breaks; that's about half of a short story every day (15 short stories in 30 days then, yarz?), when a lot of writers take a month or more for one (1) short story! Of course, there are naysayers to NaNoWriMo. They'll tell you all you're going to write is crap for 30 days. The thing of it is, they're at least half-right, but I can tell you from experience most of what I write is pure crap anyway. Even so, any writer worth his or her nickel knows there is always always something worth keeping in the mudpile: an idea, however small; a turn of phrase; a line of dialogue; something.
I chose to participate in NaNoWriMo for a number of reasons, but mostly because it would require me to write every day, regardless of my mood, my schedule, the mad ravings and finger-pointings at the short story I'm currently working on ("Why don't you have an ending!" "How dare you eat that pizza, Johnny Gorgeous!" "Mr. Frenchman, must you be so Phantom of the Opera-y?").
So, this is the end of the first week then or thereabouts. It's Day 5 and I have 12,201 words written in a crazy, whacked-out novel. Here's the premise that I full right to change at any time, without notice: Fish that can travel faster than the speed of light. A bounty hunter obsessed with her lost lives, past and future. A baritone in an a cappella group slash smuggler who just might be the guy to wreck the whole space travel thing. A philosopher decrying the doom of mathematics. And a drug dealer forms an uneasy partnership with a dancer to pull off the biggest heist in human history: matter theft. Welcome to Poro, city of claw and eye.
I have no clue how I'm going to pull any of that off, even with 12,000 words written, but I'm getting closer to understanding how it all works in my mind. Also, I'm not sure I want to pull it off. The interesting part of doing this, for me at least, is writing it out, the act alone, letting my brain go, whatever comes out is what's written down. Already, I've introduced a character I didn't think would matter and, as it turns out, matters very much. It's a wonderful moment when the story takes control. It's not something that happens much when I'm writing short stories.
Okay, though, the story in control of itself is only going to work for so long, I know that. The other really fun part of this is that I'll have a novel at the end, one in which I can go back and reassert my control. I'll revise, finding the parts that are worth keeping and disregarding the parts that aren't, working out what's cliche and what's original, however many revisions that takes. For now, the story is on auto-pilot and it can take any turn it wants, even ones I don't agree with (at any rate, maybe the turns I don't agree with are the ones I should be keeping).
No matter what happens, at the end of first week, I can say without hesitation that this is a blast and I highly recommend everyone try it once. It's really not even about getting those 50,000 words. I don't think you win anything except a NaNoWriMo ribbon on your profile and the prestige of having completed 50,000 words. If you don't make it, it's no big deal. So long as you don't not make it because you're obsessing over the little details - you can do that in revision. That's not what NaNoWriMo is about. It's about writing every day and having fun doing it.