An, another November draws to a close, another year when I have not managed to even half-arsedly participate in NaNoWriMo. In theory, this is a project custom built for me: while I like to carry stories around in my head for a while before I tell them, I’m also a big fan of a quickly written first draft – I know writers who flourish by editing as they go and crafting every line till it shines before they move onto the next one, but I have never been that girl – I write everything in longhand, vast, messy, quickly written sprawls of text that will need to be rewritten and rewritten many times before anyone gets to see them, but which spill out a story I didn’t even realise I was telling as the words take shape on the page.
I write ideas sketches first – very loose scenes, non-sequential, just to remember ideas I had or lines I liked. Later these are coalesced into a narrative structure – there’s usually a bit of a gap between these stages, so going back and re-reading my original notes is always a bit of a voyage of discovery. I find things I had forgotten about, multiple versions of scenes which niggled to be rewritten; characters change and plots thicken and wither from notebook to notebook, and often when I come to write a linear draft, I spend hours flicking through the pile of journals I take notes in, looking for a version of a scene I am sure that I have written somewhere, but can’t quite remember where.
So, having finished my notes stage over summer and being ready to start a draft, I thought NaNoWriMo would be a great exercise for me: just get it on the page and out of the way! And it would have, had November not, as every year, clashed with a massive deadline for me: winter is my busiest and most lucrative season for me, and everything else – writing, life, occasionally even showering – gets out on hold.
So, props to everyone who managed to stick with the programme this month. Anyone up for organising a summer version?
My notes so far:
The perils of writing longhand when one is clumsy: