Monday, December 2, 2013

Links and a NaNoWriMo recap

So as I mentioned back in the end of October, I spent the month of November participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), in which the goal is to write a manuscript for a novel in thirty days with a minimum of 50,000 words. I feel I should stress the fact that the goal is to make a manuscript, a first draft. There's absolutely no way that what I wrote is ready to be sent to a publisher right now. That would be way too embarrassing, to say the least.

Nonetheless, I did make it to the 50,000 mark. I reached my goal last Monday. It wasn't easy; during the first week, the adapter for my laptop computer died on me. It was awhile before I could afford to buy a new one, so I had to switch to handwriting in a notebook for a long stretch. Plus, I had accidentally lost an early chapter of my story. I'm fairly certain I deleted it by mistake, though I'm not positive about that. Rather than go back and do it over, I chose to plug onward. It wasn't a large chapter, so I didn't feel like I missed a great deal, and besides, at the time I was more concerned with cranking out the words more than anything else...

... and make no mistake, NaNoWriMo is all about cranking out words. You can't think too much about quality; that's what I learned late in the game. I felt fairly certain that I would reach my goal, but I needed to have time to spare, because the NaNo website requires you to copy and paste your novel in order to get an official word count, which meant that after I bought a new adapter, which I did, I'd have to type the whole story out on my computer, which I also did - in two days. So to make sure I'd be safely over the 50,000 goal, I had to stop editing - which is what the NaNo experts tell you to do, but I didn't listen! I used strikethrough on entire paragraphs that I didn't like, but kept anyway, because the words still count towards your goal.

I, like every other NaNo writer, I imagine, had to fight boredom, fatigue, and indifference to get this done, and while that may not sound as daunting as what, say, a decathlete goes through, it did make me more aware of what professional novelists go through. We take writing for granted because it's an everyday task, something the average person with a high school education can do, but to put together a story good enough to be sold on the market? I don't care whether you're the hackiest hack writer that ever owned a typewriter or Stephen King, it ain't as easy as it looks, and I have new respect for anyone who does it on a regular basis.


Of course, now that my first draft is done - it's a baseball story - next comes editing and revision, and that's a horse of a different color. Ideas that I thought were great at first turned out to be crap by the end, or at least, they weren't as well executed as I had hoped they would be. I have a fair idea of where I went wrong, storytelling-wise. Scenes that I loved, I now know, will probably have to get the ax in order to make it a stronger story. I won't start this process until the new year, however; NaNo experts also recommend that you take a little time to step back from your manuscript in order to be able to look at it more objectively.

Would I do this again? Don't know. Depends on a lot of things, not the least of which is how the story I just wrote will turn out. I have no serious dreams that this will be a national bestseller. Indeed, seeing how Jacqueline approaches her novels makes me think self-publishing might not be a bad idea, at least in the short term. But I might, if I think it's worth the time and effort to do it again. The point is that I now know that writing a novel is not as insurmountable a goal as I might have thought - not that I ever had any great dreams of being a novelist. The only reason I tried this was to see if I could do it. And now I know. My thanks to my friends here, on Twitter and especially on Facebook for supporting me through this insane endeavor.

Your links for this month:

One of the new friends I made during NaNoWriMo is a young lady named Erica, who does a literary blog called NYC Bookworm. She also likes old movies. One night we took a break from writing our novels to live-tweet the Burt Lancaster movie Come Back Little Sheba (yes, I know what I said about live-tweeting; it was her idea). She liked it more than I did.

The one day I took off from NaNoWriMo was to attend a party held by the Queens World Film Festival in Long Island City. They've got an Indiegogo fundraising thing up right now in which the goal is to support their free programs which play around Queens. Check it out, and if you can, throw a few bucks their way, because they do good work.

Ivan writes about funny ladies from the silent era.

Jacqueline looks at the kinds of movies playing around the time of the JFK assassination.

Danny has a fascinating post about a film about Native Americans... even if the lead was played by a white guy in redface.

Retrospace has a movie podcast! The first episode is about the 70s flick Convoy.

(One final note: the content from the LAMB page has been moved to the 'Themes' page.)

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for the mention, Rich, and congratulations on finishing your writing marathon. I think you've learned the most important lesson of all, and I guess it all boils down to this: though inspiration is a wonderful thing, and ride it when you can -- nevertheless, a professional writer doesn't sit down to write because he's inspired. He writes because it's Thursday.

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  2. I like that. I gotta remember that.

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  3. This is so cool! I think I'll try NaNoWriMo next year :D Oh and if you publish your novel somehow, I'll definitely read it.

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