Thursday, August 10, 2006

NaNoWriMo is Coming Again

Last year, probably around this time, a couple of sentences popped into my head, and I knew that these would form the opening lines of my first attempt at National Novel Writing Month. The sentences were as follows:

Angelique was thin in a way that resembled tall. Her husband, Laszlo, was short in a way that resembled broad.


I had no title in mind, nor did I have a premise. All I had was two sentences. I was confident that they constituted a fine start. True to the spirit of the exercise, I did not commit those sentences to paper (nor did I type them into a computer, nor did I utter them aloud) until November 1. And that's where my journey began.

I am plagued by a terrible memory, and so I knew that there was a high likelihood that by the time November 1 rolled around, I might well forget those sentences. They might be superseded by something better (or by something worse). Or I might just start NaNoWriMo with a blank mind, having to manufacture a whole new start when November began.

But whatever was to become of those sentences, I was quite sure that I was going to try to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, 02005.

When November started, I came up with a working title. As the month wore on, I scrapped that title in favor of another and then scrapped that replacement title for yet another. I ran out of steam a couple of times and had to dig deep to figure out how to keep going (in terms of narrative direction, more than in terms of inspiration or will to continue).

As it happened, those opening two sentences remained intact in my mind until November 1. They were the first sentences I typed in my attempt, and they still stand as the first sentences on what is now a mere first draft. I did not reach my goal of 50,000 words. Instead I managed just over 40,000. I still think those sentences are strong. And I managed to come up with many other passages of which I am proud. In fact, overall, I'm pretty proud of what I did manage to accomplish. While I fell short of the 50,000 word goal, I think I did manage to compose a cohesive work of fiction. "Cohesive" is apparently something that escapes the grasp of many NaNoWriMo winners.

I haven't yet gotten all the way through on my first pass at proofreading. That will come with time. I'm sure of it.

The feedback I've gotten from the few people who have provided such has largely been encouraging, and I'm pretty sure a small gem can be pulled from that first draft. But now, as the summer is winding down, I find myself not so interested in revisiting that first attempt. Instead, I am looking forward to NaNoWriMo 02006.

I have not fixed on an opening yet. I have had some ideas bouncing around in my skull. But none has jumped out as an imperative. At the moment, I can't recall a single one. But I'm confident that in the next few months, something will begin to congeal--or at least some idea will make itself persistent. And when November starts, I will be ready to go once again into the vast expanse of literary wilderness that is NaNoWriMo.

And you're all invited to play along! If you're interested, visit www.nanowrimo.org and sign up.

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