This is, most likely, going to be the first time in eight years that I won’t be participating in National Novel Writing Month.
I might decide to be insane and do it anyway, because I have an unholy love of the word count meter, but I really shouldn’t. I’m going to have editor notes by then, I’ve already got 30k of a work-in-progress going (most of which I wrote in two weeks) and… yeah. I’m not going to have time.
I’m sad, mostly because NaNo is delicious, crazy fun when not at the omgIhatemynovel phase. And I will feel slightly guiltier about stocking up on sale-priced Hallowe’en candy come November 1st.
I do love the pressure of a deadline, but I get my own deadlines now.
And I think as much as I love the freedom to writewritewrite and revise later, I’ve grown rather fond of revising. I do still love drafting with wild abandon, most of the aforementioned WIP is driven by wild abandon and stockings with seams, but I’m trying to construct it thoughtfully at the same time.
I wrote 80k in 29 days last year. I re-read it a few months ago. A lot of it is better than I’d remembered. Some of it is worse. The structure needs adjusting, the main plot arc requires complete overhaul. I can do it, but it’ll be a lot of work. If I’d taken three months to draft it instead of 29 days, sure, it might be in better shape, but it probably wouldn’t have all of those NaNo-induced, caffeine-haze enhanced elements like the carnivorous mermaids.
I think most of you know that the circus started life as a NaNoWriMo novel. Technically, it started in a different NaNovel, as one of those caffeine-haze tangents. I wrote circus-related stuff for two years of NaNo, ending up with over 100k of rough draft.
There’s not a single page of that 100k that didn’t change during revisions. Large amounts of it were discarded entirely. But that’s where it started.
I’ve said this before, but I never planned for NaNo. I’d always go in with a handful of ideas and see where they took me. Like exploratory novelling. And I always found things that I wasn’t expecting.
But I can do that without the magical deadline now. I think I’m a better writer than I was during all those Novembers in ’05 & ’06 & ’07. I certainly know more about how I write, how I revise, and what works for me.
I’m not entirely sure I need to spend November ’10 excavating a new novel. I have a WIP that needs finishing, old NaNo drafts that need major surgery. And there’s that novel that’s actually getting published, too.
At some point I went from a November writer to a full-time writer, and that’s a good thing, even if it means I don’t have the time to run with the NaNo pack this year.
NaNoWriMo got me where I am right now. If it weren’t for the magic of the deadline and that marvelous little word count meter, I would probably still be one of those people who thinks about writing, someday, and never actually sits down to do it.
So I shall be cheering from the sidelines for all the NaNo-ers this year. And should I ever get to meet Chris Baty, I owe him a hug. And possibly some discount Hallowe’en candy.