I reached both THE END and 50k. So by the terms of the challenge, I win!
But I had my own terms, and they were less successful.
I dreamed of finding a way to sit down to do the writing more easily this month, and that didn’t really happen. At all.
I secretly hoped — who wouldn’t? — that the finished novel would be tolerable. That didn’t really happen, either. At all.
But oh, geeze, did I ever learn stuff.
1) The brainmeats don’t work very well if the bodymeats are under-slept, poorly fed, under-exercised, and sick. Of course not. It’s easy to forget that brainmeats are just another kind of meat. I need to build a much stronger physical foundation to support the writing.
2) Shiva nata is amazing for writing. I already knew that, but had further proof in the eleventy billion words we wrote after each of my Shiva NaNo classes. It was incredible.
3) I work best with companionship. Many thanks to E. Catherine Tobler, who did countless 15-minute sprints with me, helped with tangled or non-existent plot points, and urged me to keep trudging.
4) Speaking of trudging. . . you have to keep trudging, no matter what. This novel refused to behave well. My very solid outline went to hell by the end of the first day. I threw away 5000 words of a lifeless start and tried again. I pretty much gave up halfway through and started killing off characters just to get their insipid dialog out of my life. It was all very, very bad. But I kept trudging, despite the obvious pointlessness, and much to my surprise, over and over again, I found little treasures. A bit of plot that made sense. A bit of decent characterization. A resonant theme.
I can’t just think up decent stuff; I have to write my way into it. And that means I have to write. Even if it’s stupid. Even if I hate it. Even if it’s total crap.
5) Not all good stories are mine to write. I had some great material to work with here — 1930s! Feminism! Aviation! Ecology! A panoply of monsters from myth and legend! But when it came down to it, it wasn’t the story of my heart. So I need to be more aware of what my heart wants to do, and more nimble at getting back to my heart when I go astray.
And if my heart really wants to write the completely ridiculous noir parody Poutine Cop? Well, then, it’ll be a magnificent lesson in learning to trust my heart.
6) Best of all: somehow, despite the brutal slog, despite all the things that were awful, I came out of November more deeply engaged with writing than I have been for a long time. This project didn’t work, but I’m very eager to find another project that does work.
It seems I have all sorts of Rules about why I can’t write Poutine Cop. Lots of stuff to investigate there. . .
Poutine Cop is totally excellent. I love that so much.
This is true for me as well, and it means I usually have a ton of clean-up work even when I manage to struggle through the entire book. Which isn’t often.
And gotta keep the Bad Editor out while you’re writing. It’s so not helpful.
Congrats on winning, Beth, you winner you.