Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Write Stuff

I was going to call this post, "Why I'm Living In Squalor" but I thought it might be a little off-putting to the readers. It's not that it is an untrue statement for I am, at the moment, living in squalor. I just didn't think it was such a good idea to call attention to it, is all...

I have always wanted to try participating in NANOWRIMO. It seems like such an "authorly" thing to do and what could be cooler than that? I never did it, though. The first stumbling block I always encountered was forgetfulness. I could never seem to remember when the event started. The second issue was sweet reason itself. The very idea of writing a 50,000 word novel in 30 days is madness. I was sure that there were professional writer-types who could pull it off. But that's their job. I have to do other stuff that involves commuting and telling myself that retirement is growing closer by the day. I don't have the kind of time it takes to write a zillion words that make sense.

But I still always thought it was a kind of keen idea, even if it wasn't for me...

This year, I actually had a bit of a heads up. One of my favorite knit bloggers/wordsmiths wrote a post about signing up for NANOWRIMO. I cheered for her, happy to know that I could at least be a part of it vicariously. And, secretly, I wished I'd done it myself.

However the month had begun, the writers were all busily pecking away at their keyboards and I had missed it again. So sad. Maybe next year...

Midway through the first week in November, I happened to think of a kind of cool sentence. That sentence sort of wandered into a paragraph and, together, they kept going. I thought I might jot it all down in case it wanted to grow up to become something. I also thought that it might have been nice had I come up with this before NANOWRIMO started. Then I could have played along except for the part about my not being able to write 50,000 words in a month.

By the end of the first weekend of November, I had 8000 words jotted down. The sentence had grown! I thought that it might be fun to participate in NANOWRIMO in a kind of unofficial way. You know...just to see how far I'd get. Of course I wasn't going to sign up, though. It was too late.

My goals were simple:

1. Write 50,000 words by the end of the month. (Even though that is impossible)

2. Finish the story by the 30th. (Sheepie has a tendency to over-write and to depend on narrative summary more than any human being ever should. Things start to get big, messy and bogged down when Sheepie writes for any length of time.)

3. Tell no one because 50,000 words ain't gonna happen and we like our failures to come with as few witnesses as possible.

I went to the site to see what the rules were so I could follow them from the safety of my own living room. There, I discovered that this was a rather forgiving lot and that first draft novel writing was considered more of a free writing process than anything else. Padding sentences to boost the word count was even encouraged! (editors may now gasp in horror) I was also surprised to see that my own word counts weren't all that far from that of the "official" participants.

Things got a little fuzzy after that and I may have blacked out for a second. All I know is that, when I came to my senses...I'd signed up for NANOWRIMO. On November 12th.

Let me remind everyone here of the situation: 50,000 words. In 30 days. Unless you sign up on the twelfth. Then you have less. "Impossible" was now "Stupid and Impossible"

So began my descent. In a frenzy of word mashing, I managed to catch up to where I was supposed to be word-wise in that first weekend. I dutifully uploaded new words every day and waited to see if the validator would agree with my word processor. It never did. It always cheated me out of fifty words and I had grumpily type more to satisfy it. This was the sum total of my existence.

The housework, what little I ever did of it, was left undone. I ate a lot of cereal. The cats were fed and sometimes I remembered to change the litter. If I had real children, they would currently be in state custody and I'd be sitting with a stern caseworker trying to explain how things went so wrong so fast. All I did was think, type, count words and remind myself that I was doing this for funsies so there was no reason to hate myself when I failed.

Today is the 28th. There are two more days left before the final bell tolls and I have two statements to make on the subject:

1. I have not finished the novel. I will probably not finish it by the 30th. Once again, I let things get a little bigger than I planned. However, it's not so bad as it's been in the past. In fact, I could probably wrap this thing up in four chapters if I put my mind to it. Ok...maybe five. Or six at the most.

2. At approximately 10:30 this morning, two days before the end of NANOWRIMO and having started well behind many others, I uploaded my text into the mighty validator. I waited with bated breath for it to digest them and pronounce judgement. The little circle whirled and whirled for what seemed an eternity and then...



The validator says it so it must be so!


Now I need to go find the carpet which I am certain lies under the crust of dirty socks, scrape a layer of cereal crumbs from the counter and check my blood pressure because there has been a great deal of coffee consumed over the past three weeks.

But first maybe I'll do just one more chapter...

SA

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Congrats! I am jealous. I wanted to do nano this year too but I am moving and caught whooping cough. Between the two, I've barely kept my teaching job let alone write. But I am amazed and impressed. Congrats again, and good luck catching up with the housekeeping.

Scienceprincess

kmkat said...

That is so cool. I'm glad the little misadventure with the kitteh and the laptop and the then-38,000-word document didn't end in disaster.

trek said...

Are you going to share it with the world?

:: or at least with me? ::

Mel said...

Well, I signed up in time, but life did its little thing and the time, she just has not been there. Good on you for winning! I keep telling myself maybe next year.

Elaine said...

Hurrah for Sheepie!

Ronni said...

Yay Sheepie!!!!! You go girl! I decided not to try to do nanowrimo this year. I never succeeded at it any of the years I tried because with a child and a dependent parent who requires more time and energy than a child, November is not the month to start up things like writing 50k words in a month. I thought I might do it a different month this time though rather than just skipping completely. February maybe.

Jeanne said...

Congratulations!!!! That is so cool. I've signed up a couple times but never made it all the way. I signed up this year, then realized they want novels. The book in my head is non-fiction. So I opted out.

But I still wonder... could I win this year? Could I write 50,000 words in one day? (Sure, if it's all drivel!)

I agree with Ronni, November is not the month for this. June or July is. Or January. Nothing happens in January. Except snow. My advice (to myself as much as anyone else)?

Write the thing in January, upload in November. There. :-)

So. Can you at least tell us what the novel is about?

knitseashore said...

I don't know about being a wordsmith, but I'm so glad to have taken this journey with you. You are now my inspiration for finishing! Congratulations on a book well done, and good luck on that housecleaning. I'll be joining you in a few days. :)

Elizabeth said...

WOW!!! That's amazing! Congratulations! I signed up, but immediately chickened out/came to my senses. My excuse this year is that I'm knitting something for every person on my Christmas list. I figure that's enough insanity for one month. So woohoo to you! I'm impressed.

Julia G said...

Wow! Impressive, amazing, cool and inspiring! I've always thought NANOWRIMO was such a great idea, writers supporting each other through the tough job of getting a first draft on paper, and now you are living, blogging proof. Go Sheepie!

Donna Lee said...

Way to go! So, what's the novel about? Will you post it? Can we read it? Is it any good? (I've wondered about these opuses written in 30 days).

Elaine (the other one) said...

Now *that* would be one fun novel! Congrats!

Knitting Linguist said...

You did it! You did it! Huzzah! I am SO impressed -- 30,000 is the closest I ever got (without even quoting the Rime of the Ancient Mariner to up the word count), and I'm pretty sure most of those words were crap (which isn't to say that they're not saved on my computer, because there's this small part of my soul that wants them to be good someday). Congratulations on surviving the insanity -- a messy house is well worth it. :) Now, when do we get to read it?

Teri S. said...

Wow! Way to go, Sheepie! Every year Rachael mentions it on her blog and every year I too think it would be kind of cool to do that. I just lack that first sentence. And of course, a plot. And characters.

Are you going to let us read your masterpiece?

Anonymous said...

sheepie - you just never cease to amaze me :) You rock dude :)

mia

Gayle said...

Congrat on completing the challenge. I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year but did zip (though I got a great idea for it) but alas life jumped on me with both flu-y feet and a few other catastrophes.

So, I'm doing a happy dance for you. Now that you got the writing done, good luck with the polishing and I'm sure we all look forward to hearing more about the writing adventure.

Kath said...

Whoa - you not only met the goal, you did it two days early??? I bow to you.

dawn in nl said...

congratulations on winning Nano!

I was in it for the first time this year and totally impressed my self by being able to write anything between 800 and 1600 words in an hour!

We won't talk about the quality, if you don't mind ;-)

Awesome, be proud,
Dawn