NaNoWriMo: the aftermath

Okay.  So.  NaNoWriMo is over.  It was a truly wonderful experience.  The 50K + words (about 62K) have been written, recorded, and verified.  It would have been very cool to have kept a blog about the process, but I begrudged every single word I wrote in November that I ouldn’t count toward my novel; I don’t know how the people who did blog about it managed. 

So – now what?

I’ve signed up for NaNoFiMo, which involves writing an additional 30k in December; I really, really want to finish this thing this year.  If you asked me on December 1, I would have said it was a lock.  Now … The first half of this month was kind of a washout – I pooped out, I admit it.  It was partly a return of bad habits – *I don’t have to write today, because I can knock out 700-odd words in nothing flat – tomorrow*  *this weekend I’ll sit down and really rough out the rest of it* *or at least the next few scenes* *ok, next weekend, then* … and countless games of mahjongg and Animal Rescue Site Gem Swap later (damn the charity sites for making it not only acceptable but almost mandatory to waste time playing games!), I have a few more pages in my notebook and less than a thousand more words digital.  Hm. 

Still, I had an exciting day yesterday; and how sad it is that this is what constitutes excitement in my life.  Still, it was pretty wonderful: I realized that I needed a wedding ring.  There were three possibilities: she had her mother’s ring (or they would go and get it); he had his mother’s ring; or he made one.  The latter was the most likely, and I’d had a plan for it for a while now, but thinking about it a little more took the wind out of that plan’s sails.  Then I discovered that harpstrings were – possibly, there’s dispute over this – once made of precious metals.  And *zing* went the strings of my heart.  It’s perfect – it’s exactly what I needed – and that discovery led to some decent scenage.  It was a little breakthrough.  And I’ll take all of those I can get. 

I’m beginning to learn that that’s a big part of writing, at least for me; I’ve read comments from some writers who have said that they function as if they were just frantically trying to get down the story as they’re hearing it told to them in their heads.  It’s a little like that for me.  It’s not that easy – it’s not transcription – but I know when I’m getting it right and I know when something I have down just … didn’t happen.  It’s sometimes like archaeology (which is nice, because I used to want to be an archaeologist); I thought it would be interesting if my bard character used harp strings to make his bride a ring.  Then I thought it would be wise if I looked into exactly what harp strings were made of, now and historically.  And what I found out couldn’t have been more perfect.  It took a little digging – it felt like I had to unearth the idea, and then dig deeper for the data.  It came together.  It’s happened before – I’ve needed a cause for an effect I already had, or the reason someone was where I needed them – and it’s just come.  Epiphany really isn’t too strong a word – it’s the best feeling.  It makes it feel like I’m doing something right. 

Aaand … now what? 

March is NaNoEdMo, which seems to be more active than FiMo is (there doesn’t seem to be much activity on the FiMo forum).   EdMo is March, in which I believe 50 hours are to be devoted to editing.  I look forward to it – and I’m trying to hold off on any serious editing till then.  There seems to be a lot of info out there on the EdMo site, and a lot of direction – and, with a little luck, there’s some way of getting feedback.  I’ll come back to that.  NaNoPubYe is National Novel Publishing Year –  and it will be.  At some point in 2011, after I’ve beaten on the book and ripped it apart and put it back together (see how I can call it a “book” now and not blush?  Even though it’s STILL not finished?  That’s new) I will …. possibly … send it to an agent.  This is the terrifying part.  There’s a guest blog post on the Office of Letters and Light blog, and it’s scary.  Every person to whom a book can be sent is predisposed to say “no”.  It seems that the smallest wrong move can send a manuscript into the garbage.  I think the first and most important thing will be to find people to read the thing (*waves to Jen* – don’t think I’m going to let you off the hook, lady!) to determine if the characters are hateful, or disappear (I forgot about one character’s dog; I really should name him Chuck, after the other son on Happy Days who went upstairs with his basketball in one episode and never … came … back), or are suddenly standing by the fireplace when they were last seen sitting outside the door … Continuity.  That’s what’s a little alarming about the whole thing.  I’ve been working on this forever, and I’m too close; I won’t see errors like that.  And … does the ending make sense?  (And could someone who’s read it please time travel and tell me what it is, because right now I have no idea in the world?)  Too wordy?  Me?  Surely not. 

So – it’s difficult (to say the least) to find an agent, or even to decide if one should use one.  It’s difficult (to say the least) to find a publisher.  And assuming one finds an agent and a publisher and the baby is delivered – the book is published – that’s still no time to relax, because when the deal is done is when the work I’m not as confident about begins.  And assuming I do get the thing out into the world, it isn’t as if I can quit my day job.  Ever.  I think of Jo March, who hand writes her manuscript and ties it up in a brown paper parcel and ties it with a string and sends it off and a few minutes later is a published writer, and one who can live off her work.  Apparently one could, then.  Now?  Unless the stars align just perfectly, writing will always be a sideline. 

I look at the writers I know to one degree or another; there’s Lily from The Board Which Shall Remain Nameless, with whom I became friendly before I knew who she really was; she’s has been writing for many years, and as far as I know makes a living at it.  I exchanged a few letters with Guy Kay, but if I start comparing myself with him I’ll go lie in the snow.  (When we get any, may it be next winter.)  And there’s my compadre Adam Schell … He produced a beautiful book.  He created something that should have blazed across the book world.  And there was a series of unfortunate events, to quote Lemony Snicket, from the death of Michael Jackson to firings at his publisher … And he said sales did not meet expectations.  Well.  The publisher did what a great many publishers are doing: leaving promotion of the book to the author.  What terrifies me about this is … if Adam Schell – who is personable, charming, funny, outgoing, (and tall and adorable) and knows a lot of people: he’s connected – couldn’t promote the book in such a way that sales were what they needed to be, how in the name of God am I going to? 

But all of that’s a long ways off.  I have the happy part to work on for quite a while yet.  And I’m just not going to worry about the rest till I need to.

OK – back to work.

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3 Responses to NaNoWriMo: the aftermath

  1. accountantgrrl says:

    *waves back*

    Now that I finally cracked the password (didn’t realize it was case senstive), I can know read all of your etchings. ;-)

  2. accountantgrrl says:

    By the way…there are a lot of NaNoWriMo that have their books available for download via Smashword.com, either free or for sale. They have a whole section open to NaNoWriMo. Just a thought…

  3. stewartry says:

    Yeah … there are a bunch of sites out there – I think CreateSpace is another one, and they have special deals for NaNoers. Thing is, any online posting of a whole text or any significant amount of it constitutes “electronic publishing”, and that uses up the first electronic publishing rights – and that’s a Bad Thing. A publisher will look at a book as having already been released – why should they buy that cow if people are already getting the milk free?

    Which of course gave me palpitations when I read that, considering the chapters I have posted here – but since mine are password-protected, only the people I want to read them will read them, and it doesn’t count. Thank God.

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