It’s Sunday morning on the first of December and I’m hungover. It may be because of my introduction to American Honey whiskey (damn that stuff goes down smooth), but I’m certain that it has more to do with the finishing of National Novel Writing Month. There is something about writing 50,000 words in a month that melts my brain. My last thousand words are written in something that looks like tongues.
Despite the mental anguish, I look forward to November. The annual event forces me to sit down and actually dedicate myself to writing a good chunk of a novel. At the end of the month I have something vaguely resembling a manuscript that I can spend the next year shaping up. Something that just may one day see the light of a Kindle.
The First Wife is my fourth NaNoWriMo win. My first 2009 project stills sits at 50,000 semi-coherent words. My 2010 work Paradise Earth is nearing publication on December 21, 2012. (Just in time for the end of the world.) Last year’s Happiness: How to Find It is currently being published as a free online serial by Curiosity Quills Press.
I recently learned a great motto from Tyler at Real Social Dynamics: you have to give yourself to the art before the art gives something back to you. It’s true with a lot of things in life and very true with NaNoWriMo. Sometimes when I sat down to write I was completely lost and blocked. But, because I had a goal, I forced myself through writing really, really badly. I swear my eight year old neighbor’s stuff looks like Hemingway in comparison. However there were moments where the muse decided to pull her skank ass out of bed and visit me. At those times the words just flowed and magic happened and oh my god it’s good.
Something else happened: I started out to write a murder story, but ended upnot killing anyone. I fell in love with my leading ladies. I put them through hell, because I’m a real bastard that way, but I couldn’t bring myself to pull the trigger. Not yet.
One of the things that I love about writing is how these characters come alive on the page. Writing is an act of courting. When I sit down with them, I leave learning just a little bit more about their hopes, dreams, desires, and fears. Sometimes I wonder if these people actually exist as souls floating out there in the ether.
By my estimate, I’m about halfway through the story. I’m really excited to see what happens to these characters. While I generally start with an ending in mind, the novel often charts its own course.
As thrilled as I am for my own win, I’m even more excited that my friend Allie won for the first time. Ever since we’ve met I’ve watched her scribbling notes and stories in stacks of notebooks. To see her bring it all together was awesome. Another inspiration for me is Sean, who has served as NaNoWriMo municipal liaison to Southern Illinois for the last few years. Two years now I’ve watched him come from way behind, writing several thousand words in the last week to reach the finish line. (He also followed up by literally crossing the finish line today with his first 5k run.) Finally, I have to say something about Kayla. She is a writing, machine having finished a few manuscripts already. The crazy thing is that she isn’t even out of high school — talk about a head start. She managed to get 40,000 words despite some personal setbacks last month.
So that’s a wrap for National Novel Writing Month 2012. I’ll take a couple of days off to recharge and then get back at it. I’m working on three comic book projects and I need to finish the next installment of the Paradise Earth series.