This blog has been a bit quiet recently, but there’s a reason for that. Along with countless others, I emerged from National Novel Writing Month on 30th November, having just about snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. I hit the requisite 50K words on 25th November, but I’m still feeling a bit shell-shocked.
This year’s go at NaNo was nothing like as straightforward as my previous attempt, The House at Zaronza, in 2012. Then, I had the story all laid out and, while I changed bits as I went along, it almost wrote itself. The birth of the latest oeuvre was somewhat more fraught.
One of the reasons was that I was still agonising over which of my two ideas I should write as we approached the starting grid on 1st November. One was a sequel to The House at Zaronza set in World War II; the other was a sort of prequel, set in 18th-century Corsica.
Then I read some good advice in Writing Magazine, which was to write the one that keeps nagging at you. At least you then have it out of your system even if you don’t go anywhere with it.
I took that advice and wrote the prequel, which was the one I thought about before going to sleep at night and on waking in the morning. It wouldn’t leave me alone. The problem was that I didn’t plan it out as well as I should have done beforehand, because I had been juggling the two ideas for too long, which meant more improvising as I went along. I even have three working titles for it and can’t decide on the right one.
Why did I do NaNo, then? Simple. I am a serial procrastinator and without that discipline I would still be on page 1.
At times, I had to force myself to write even when I didn’t want to. But the result is 5/8 of a novel. Sure, it needs finishing, rewriting, Beta-reading, editing, polishing, etc., and I need to do more historical research, so I’m a long way from the finish line in reality. Even so, I have the satisfaction of having something to work with.
For December, though, I’m going to take another piece of advice, which is to leave my NaNo novel alone and let it settle. Hopefully, my subconscious will continue to work on some of the knotty plotting issues during that time. Instead, I’ll focus on some short stories I want to write.
The Zaronza sequel is next in line. In the meantime, watch this space for more news of the three-working-titles prequel.
What was your experience of NaNo this year?
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