03 December 2018

Post-NaNoWriMo Debrief

This was the hardest novel I think I've ever written.

Mind you, I don't particularly remember the trenches of writing my other novels. But usually I have a pretty good sense of which novels are decent and which are... not. And this one is trending to the latter camp.

First of all, my plot only percolated for about 36 hours before I started writing it (usually it's simmering in my brainpan for five or six months by the time November hits), so I felt like I didn't really know the story. It was like trying to eat an unripe fruit. It might have been good, but I was asking too much of it prematurely. My mystery story was a mystery even to me, and in fact, the plot grew murkier as the book went on. When I started the story I knew exactly who the murderer was, and by the time I hit 50k I had narrowed it down to three people. (No, that's not a typo.)

It was also hard writing without M. Even in the years when she didn't write a novel herself, she still commiserated with me as I wrote mine because she knew from the inside the madness that is writing a 50,000 word novel in thirty days and got, more than anybody else, the strange heady mix of elation and hilarity and angst that co-exists in the speed-novelist in those thirty days. But this year, I couldn't message her my characters' latest escapades and have her laugh along with me instead of taking a vague 'smile, nod, and back away slowly' approach like most everyone else does. I didn't have any of her insightful/funny comments on my NaNoWriMo Facebook posts. I never got to see her dramatic updates of her own novel. I didn't get to offer her ludicrous ideas and steal ridiculous plot points from her.

Artists -- true artists, who follow their calling with such passion and intensity -- are so rare already, and although we are often perceived as working alone, the fact is we can be pretty closely knit and when we lose one of our own, it's like taking a support beam out of a building. Although M and I worked on our novels in our own separate rooms, communicating almost exclusively online, she was integral in my own creative process and now that she's gone, my own work has grown paler, simply because she's not a part of my life anymore. They say it takes a village to raise a child, and I would also argue that it takes a village to create art. Take one person out of the picture, and the whole composition of the photo is altered. Colours are missing -- the blue eyes, the blonde hair, the bright clothing. The light is different -- the reflection of the sun on her face, the sparkle in her eyes. The shape is different -- one less figure, one less shadow, the loss of shape and symmetry, a literal hole where there used to be a whole fascinating personality. You can tell me to get over it because she was 'just' a friend all you want (as opposed to a spouse or a child), but the fact is, she coloured my life and by extension my artistic output, and now with one of the arteries of my art severed, my art -- and therefore I -- can't help but suffer.

I digress.

I did make 50k though. I completely filibustered the last 10k. I had about four plot points of any kind, so I basically dropped one in every 10k and then milked it in great repetitive word-padded detail for as long as conceivably possible (and then some) before dropping in the next tiny plot point and milking that cow absolutely dry and so on. I lost my motivation somewhere around the 25k mark and honestly it was sheer force of will that got the book to 50k (I'm not calling it 'done' because nothing's wrapped up because I don't know how to wrap it up). I have never been so thoroughly, consistently uninspired for a novel. Even my 2016 novel (which only made 37k that November) wasn't this difficult to write.

Maybe in eight months when I get around to re-reading it I'll feel differently about it, but right now I'm not looking forward to that day. I can't complain too much though... my main goal coming in was not to write an amazing book (although that would have been nice), it was to write 50k in a month for the first time since 2015. And I did that.

Next writing project: back to revising Kyrie.