Monday, December 5, 2011

I Want My NaNoWriMo Back!

Yes, folks, I do actually want it back, and I'll tell you why very succinctly: when I'm doing NaNoWriMo, there is no time for crippling self-doubt, there is only time for word count.  Once NaNoWriMo ends, however, and the fever wears off, it's once again possible to become neurotic about all manner of things.

I can't stop thinking about that The Economist article that sneered at NaNoWriMo, implying that all NaNo novels are trash that "true" writing demands that the author "bleed".  Well, folks at The Economist, let me tell you: I could use a transfusion right about now because there's a heady mix of blood, sweat, and tears dripping all over my manuscript.

Still, I guess I could look at this as a good thing, right?  After all, if I were entirely convinced of my own brilliance, I would think my novel was perfect as is.  The truth is, though, that I can always find something to change, no matter how "finished" my manuscript may be.  While there are those magical moments during which I am very happy with what I've typed, they are far outnumbered by those moments where I agonize over every word, where I keep returning to the same sentence over and over because It's.  Just.  Not.  Right.

Now, I'll come right out and admit that I am a perfectionist, which means I hold myself to a ridiculously high standard.  This is both a good thing and a bad thing.  While I'm glad that I always want to do my best, and that I strive to improve myself, I'm also terrible at cutting myself any sort of slack.

Tonight, my temptation was to just keep on going, even though I began to feel like I was beating my head against a brick wall repeatedly.  Instead, I made myself put it down and step away.  If I had nothing but time to write, maybe I would be easier on myself (that's a big, fat maybe, folks) but since I have to try to cram my writing in whenever I can, I get a bit stressed.  I'm sure many other would-be writers can relate.  You sit down, ready to put words on the screen or on paper, and then real life interrupts and you're forced to walk away.  Then, when you can finally return, you rack your brain, searching for that brilliant sentence you had composed in your head or that great plot twist you were about to use and...nothing.  Big, fat nothing.  Your carefully planned out, exquisite words are gone and lost forever.  It's maddening.

At any rate, the revisions are coming along rather well.  I've had to totally scrap some chapters and rework them and, tonight, I wrote an entirely new chapter 18.  Since I ended NaNoWriMo at the beginning of chapter 25, I'd say I'm making pretty good progress.  I've also beefed up my word count by several thousand.  I'm at a pivotal point now.  I still have quite a bit of story to tell, but I'll soon need to think about wrapping it up.  ABNA approaches, my friends, and I still want to allow myself at least a couple of weeks to go over the "finished" product, so I'm aiming to write my ending by the end of December.

I also just want to take a moment to recognize the friends and family members who are reading the manuscript and helping make it better.  I am more grateful for your contributions than I can say.

And now, a bit of an excerpt!

***


            “After a great deal of discussion, the Senior Engineers and I have come to a decision as to who is to accompany us to our meeting with Agricorp,” Andersen announced.  His hands behind his back in a rather military posture, he began to stroll slowly around the room.

“Mr. LeTour,” he said, coming to a stop right next to Ryan.  He was so close that Dara was certain his posture was deliberate, calculated to intimidate.  It appeared to be working. Though Ryan kept his face straight, he blanched.  “I will state up front that I found your performance extremely disappointing.  Your ideas were mediocre, your research unsatisfactory.  I don’t know how to account for your lapse in performance but, let me assure you, this will be your last.  Any further misstep will result in your immediate termination from the program.  Is that understood?”

“Yes, sir,” Ryan said, his voice strained.  Andersen smiled a slow, tight smile, and Dara felt her stomach turn.

He’s actually enjoying this! she realized.  He’s enjoying humiliating Ryan in front of the rest of us.

As Andersen turned his back and moved away from Ryan, Chen shot a look of such vile disgust at his apprentice that Dara had to look away.  Though Ryan was without redeeming qualities, as far as she could see, she still found it difficult to see him the subject of so public a flogging.

             I’m not sure anyone deserves to be treated that way.