Thoughts From The Winners Podium

Yesterday I finished my 50,000 word NaNoWriMo novel.  I am now officially a winner.  And I am not sure what I feel.  The last 5k was somewhat haggard as I hit the wall at the 45k mark.  Having quickly realised that I didn’t have time to be methodical I wrote a prologue and an epilogue to help me stagger over the finish line.  Today is the first morning where I don’t have to write, yet here I am, a literary crack head.

Every day for the last twenty-nine I have woken up and engaged myself in the life of others.  Today I shall not.  My plan for the next week is to submit my first novel to the next agent, write nothing and read a little.  First I shall re-read the excellent Dice Man by Luke Rhineheart, and then hopefully having grown some distance to myself will I start to look at if anything can come out of November’s madness.

My doubts are not due to the nature of NaNoWriMo but more due to the fact that I have written a novel which finishes in 50,000 words, which in my opinion is far to short for most publishers.  Ideally 80k is a minimum.  I am not convinced by the idea of increasing the size of the story by an extra 50%, as at 50k the story seems to evolve quite naturally.  Whether my opinion will change at some point I don’t know.

Another question is what I do with this blog.  Having initially promised myself that I would resign from it on my 31st birthday, here I am.  I will think that over through December and make a decision in the new year.

I suppose the biggest positive to come out of November is the fact that I can say that I have written two novels.  For the first time I find myself feeling like a novelist as opposed to someone who has written a novel.  The only question now is whether they will ever see the light of day.  For the time being I can remain confident in the fact that I am, and I probably will always remain a literary failure.

The Final Sprint

I have literally just written the ending to my second novel.  I have finished the story 3,632 words shy of the 50k finish line for NaNoWriMo.  Presently I feel pretty pleased with how it went, whether that will fade with time I don’t know.

My biggest fear at the end of this project was whether I have the ability to do my characters justice.  About one month of writing about these people and thinking about them they feel as if they are companions of mine.  For a few days I have been carrying an awful sense of melancholy, knowing that I was soon to see the end of their evolution.  Now I have I am both saddened and  energised by the fact that the journey is over.

I know it is going to be hard to stay focused and find these last 3,632 words before I have had a chance to read through the whole story.  I am certain I will feel, at least in the beginning that anything I add will just be filler to pass the finish line.  Nevertheless I started this journey and I fully intend on finishing it.

It’s too soon to give a considered opinion on the NaNoWriMo experience.  What I will say is that I have enjoyed it immensely, which in my opinion is the most important thing.  At best I haven’t written a second novel which could one day be polished into something interesting.  At worst I have learnt that I do possess the discipline required to achieve my goals.

40k Day Tomorrow

It’s hard to believe that for some time I fell behind schedule with my novel.  Part of me was considering jacking it in, as  I had absolutely lost faith.  For the  last 15-20k I have been feeling like it was impossible, that my story would never stretch.  Today I have stopped on 38k, confidence that my 2k a day system will finally catch me back up.  Today was my fastest yet.  I can finally see the finish line and my compulsive nature is now in fifth gear.  I don’t want to go to work, I don’t want to sleep, I don’t want to eat, I just want to write.  I have to force myself to break my cycle.  I love this feeling.  And it only gets stronger between now and the end of a project.

One thing which I have enjoyed is watching the story evolve.  At the beginning I had a clear plan on the subjects I wanted to touch on, but no plan of how to approach them.  The fact that you have only 30 days to complete the story means that you cannot stop when your plot hits a pothole.  Whereas with my first novel I would take a few days off to get some distance from the story to think about how to get around a ‘plothole’, now I just have to push on.  It’s hard sometimes, however I am enjoying the fact that it feels like a somewhat more natural evolution.  Whether I will feel that way when I read the entire project I don’t know.

Initially I wanted to write a slightly fun novel about a man, religion and ninjas.  The plot does contain elements of all three, however somethings have taken back seat, whilst others have emerged.  Now I feel as if the story is more focused on the powers of grief, belief and human nature.  With some religious commentary, and a ninja.  I have started to read the first part of the novel and have been pleasantly surprised so far.

In the meantime I still have submitted my first novel to my next target as my attention is completely fixated on my NaNoWriMo project.  I will try to find time, alas I can’t see it happening before I write my 50,000th word.  In the meantime I will try to post something on Sunday about being old and miserable.

The Last Lap

Apologies for my inactivity, however I have been finding it really quite difficult to find the time to post.  For now I shall post a brief update and optimistically finish a longer post in the next few days.

Regarding my first novel, I have decided to keep submitting it in the hope that I can find someone interested.  I have chosen my next target and whenever I find some time I will finally send it.  If/when I receive my next rejection I will look at redrafting it.

On the NaNoWriMo front I have fallen behind schedule slightly.  I have passed 32,000 words and may potentially make 37-40k before I have to start adding scenes.  I feel that I have lost the pacing of the story which is a shame.   The deadline is looming large on the horizon, and honestly I am starting to feel the pressure.  The idea of writing 18,000 words in 11 days is a terrifying prospect.  With my better half going away for the week, I shall try doubling my output between now and next Saturday.

In previous updates I have mentioned a few words which have been pleasant surprises to me, this time I want to leave you with a sentence which makes unusual use of one of those type of words.  I am undecided as to wherever it works, none the less it’s one of my two favorite sentences from my new novel.

‘Fate, chance, lady luck or whatever label you wish to attach to whatever it is that brings such dishevelment to a man’s life can conspire to be an angel at the best of times and an absolute bastard at the worst.’

The Week That Was

I am continuing to beaver away on my novel, so much so that I haven’t had a great amount of time to post anything here.  Therefore this will merely be a small update plus a few words about remembrance day.

I have now passed 22,000 words and am certain to make 25k and quite probably 30k.  The story is progressing well, it is undoubtedly the saddest thing I have ever written.  That doesn’t mean its short of laughs or incredibly depressing.  The whole premise of the novel only works if I can make the reader feel an emotional attachment to the main character.  So far I believe I have done that.  The biggest worry is that I feel like the pace of the story has dropped.  Obviously I can try to rectify it at a later date.  It’s just strange to keep forcing yourself forward.  Since I typed my first word I have banned myself from deleting anything which isn’t in the sentence I am writing.  Therefore I am certain that at times I must have page after page of nonsense.  Nonetheless I shall keep moving forward.

Nowadays it seems that no remembrance day can go by without a protest and a counter protest and a counter-counter protest.  A large number of idiots in the world seem intent on politicizing a day which is meant to be about dignity and respect.  Participating in remembrance day has absolutely nothing to do with the righteousness of any given war it is about remembering those who have given their lives in defence or in an attempt to better the lives of others.  It saddens me to see the number of 21st century digital soldiers who are idiotic enough to believe that slandering the memory of the men who marched through hell on our behalf is okay.  These i-phone loving, kindle reading, latte-sipping, nike-wearing, shit-talking, soul-less cowards are the evidence that somewhere down the line we, the human race have got it massively wrong.