MetaNaNoWriMo – a few thoughts on NaNo2017

Phew. It’s over! I successfully completed my Nano novella After the Dark on Thursday night – I am a winner at 63,846 words. Pretty cool huh? By the end, I think the story even made sense. I’m going to stick to only posting each day’s writing on weekdays, so Monday and Tuesday next week will still be filled with my ramblings. Enjoy your lunchbreak Benedetta.

The following babble is extremely wanky and may come across as hugely pretentious – the pain, and struggle of voluntarily making shit up. Whateva. With that in mind, do proceed.

It has been an interesting experience, again. November sounds like a great month to do this in, but actually it’s been hideous. The first week was during the Nottingham Comedy Festival (which was lots of fun) and meant I was out at shows, either running them or watching them, every night that week. That pretty much killed me. As a consequence I was finding myself writing late at night, after I’d taken my sleeping tablets, and naturally chased them down with a pint. When I re-read Part Six, in preparation for writing Part Seven, I had no recollection of what I had done to the cast the previous night… when I killed almost all of them off Suffice to say, it left me in a bit of a hole, one that took me another week to dig myself out of. I ended up having four days when I had no time to write at all, which I felt horrible about at the time. It felt like it was hard to enjoy it at some points. I’m pretty pleased with where it ended up – I think it’s fairly coherent overall, but as usual, much of it is in the head of the main character. In this case that’s Jenn, who has deal with both catastrophe and some specific memory challenges.

I’ve done a title and cover for the previous two Nanowrimos, and found them kinda inspiring, so this time I tried to generate a bit of back cover copy:

An existential science fantasy adventure of lost loves, lives, and worlds.

On the night that Jenn and his closest friends celebrate their lives together, the sky is torn apart by an unknown force. When Jenn is reborn from the earth, everything has changed. All he has are questions, but who will answer them?

I’ve found previously that the more ideas I have going in, the tougher it is to write. The story always takes over, and having preconceived notions of where it’s going (but no actual plan, fuck those guys) trips me up. As in improv, I enjoy it most when the story tells me what to write next. And unless I’ve screwed myself over by trying to achieve an objective, that always happens. The next scene is necessary, and defined by what has come before. The only information you have about the future is the past, so focusing on the past will show you the way to the future. It definitely works in improv, and I believe it works in writing too. So, having  laid out at least a vague path for myself to follow, I instantly deviate, get confused because I think I’m supposed to be following a path, and find myself in a ditch.

That bit of blurb is what happens at the end of Part Six – a full quarter of the way in. Mostly, that’s because I had the idea ‘trees that heal people’ waaaay back at Worldcon in August, listening to Adrian Tchaikovsky and Robin Hobb chat about magic medicine. Because it was in my head, it kept expanding, and I went into the story with too many ideas to try to explain. When I got the chance to do the back story that tied it together I was beyond thrilled, but getting to it cost me some sleep!

What I ended up reminding myself of was the ‘lost loves, lives and worlds’ bit. Whenever I’m lost I try to return to the mindset of the main character. It’s his world not mine, and I needed to let him explain it to me. Despite that, I got lost on this one more than the other two, and I need to think about how to get back on track next time.

Regardless – a story emerged, as it surely must from any starting point. I have enjoyed it, but perhaps enjoyed it all the more for the handful of people who have diligently suffered through it each day. Thanks guys, you helped me keep my promise to write it. Plus, I got to open the bottle of The Singleton Speyside I’d picked up as a reward! Oh, and a tasty porter, and a bacon sandwich.

I’ll post up the next few chapters, do a quick spell check and then share the whole thing in a single file.

I’ve also discovered an appreciation for dubstep as writing music – thanks for the recommendations. It is perfect.

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