Sunday, November 13, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 13: The middle stinks

Writing the middle of a novel is not fun.  It is the place where self-doubts and second guessing live.  It is practically a guarantee that when you're writing your middle, you will at some point find yourself kind of snoozing over it, which means that, of course, your reader is likely to do the same thing.  This is what presses the play button on that recording in your head that sounds something like this: "This is terrible.  No one will want to read this.  It'll never be published.  You need to find yourself a new hobby."

The trick is to soldier on through the novel at this point, though that's easier said than done.  If I can say one thing about NaNoWriMo, it's that trying to write 50,000 words in one month really doesn't give me the leisure time required to indulge in my own angst.  Instead, I have to suck it up, leave the junky parts as they are, and keep on going with my novel--and this is a wonderful thing.  For the other eleven months of the year, when I am not engaged in NaNoWriMo, I often give up and walk away from my manuscript at this stage, sometimes for months or even years at a time.

See, really, all the fun in writing is in the beginning in the end.  When you first start, you're so flush with wonderful ideas and so convinced that you have such an exciting concept that you dive right in, sure you're going to produce something marvelous.  When you do slog your way past the middle part and make it to the end, you get the pleasure of writing your exciting conclusion and of tying all those plot threads together.

The middle is the real challenge, but NaNoWriMo has helped me to see that the middle is for the editing process.  If my scene is boring, I can take an axe to it later and spare my readers the unpleasant experience of having to bear with it.  In the past, I used to write as if the words that were coming from me needed to be the end result, but NaNoWriMo has shown me that writing is like any other art.  You start out with a rough form and then go back and polish and polish until it's shiny and beautiful.  So thank you, NaNoWriMo, for showing me that the sin isn't in writing something that's not good and then deleting it later, the sin is in writing nothing at all.

***


“Nice catch out there, LeTour,” Javier drawled once they were alone in the conference room.  He lounged in his chair as if he were at home enjoying his leisure time, rather than sitting in a room with a guy who would like slit his throat if it meant that he and not Javier got the assistant position.

            “I’m so flattered you noticed, Gutierrez,” Ryan replied.  “It could have happened to any one of us, really, I suppose.  We are under a lot of pressure here.”

            Dara smiled through gritted teeth.  She didn’t want to show Ryan how much he got to her, and she was angry with herself for her inability to hide her emotions from him.  If he saw that he was unnerving her, he’d just increase his efforts to undo her.

            “I guess that explains why you took such a simplistic approach to the problem,” Javier said, casually studying his perfectly groomed nails.

            “What?” Ryan asked, all pretense gone.  He was studying Javier with naked malice.  

            “You must have been so busy spying on our work that you didn’t have enough time to do even a halfway decent job with yours.”

            “Is that so?”  Ryan crossed his arms over his chest.  He had been leaning against the wall, but now he strolled a bit closer to Javier.  Every line of his body radiated aggression, and Dara found that she couldn’t tear her eyes away from what was happening between the two guys.  Surely Ryan didn’t intend to lose his temper here and now?  Then again, it wouldn’t entirely surprise her as he was nothing more than a petty bully.

            “I expect you’ll find out, once we go out there to get our scores.  Tough break, buddy.  You always managed to hold your own in class but, well, there was always a little something lacking when it came to you.  Looks like that’s really manifesting itself here and now.  It’s a lot tougher in the real world than it is in school, isn’t it?”

            “You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.”  Ryan wasn’t even pretending to be cordial now.  He leaned down, getting right in Javier’s face, but the other guy just smiled.

            “Temper, temper,” Javier sighed, shaking his head.