The Difference Between Finishing & *Finishing* #NaNoWriMo

Week three is in full-swing now.  I started the week on a slippery slope back towards falling behind on my word count, but a bottle of Pinot Grigio and one crazy three-hour Write or Die session and I was back on track.

But there’s a problem here, something that was evident last year and is already becoming clear to me now.

I’m not going to finish this novel in November.

That’s not to say I won’t get to 50,000 words.  If I keep writing at the rate I’m going, I’ll be able to get through to 50k by the skin of my teeth, and maybe a fraction more.

Problem is that I can write about anything, if I need to; I can wank on for pages about the goddamn “whispering wind” if it means I will get my word count up, and — at least in parts thus far — I think that’s what I’ve done.  That’s not to say I’m not setting decent foundations; it’s just that I can say with more than a bit of confidence that a good portion of what I’ve wrriten is just crap fluff.

But let’s be gentle and considerate to my fragile psyche for the moment, if only to remind me that I’m doing well (I had my Granddad on the phone earlier, who — when I told him I was at 30,600 words as of today — moved away from the phone and called across the room to my Nan “She’s written thirty THOUSAND words!”, which I have no shame in saying made me feel just a bit good).

The problem is that even after the total 50,000 words have exploded from my inner consciousness and through some miracle (MacBook/Write or Die/Scrivener/Alcohol) ended up on the page, judging from the amount I’ve written in words compared to the amount I’ve planned in scenes…it just doesn’t add up!  I’ve written 30,000 words-ish as of today, and I’m not really even into the meat of the story, I’m still on character development (hell, character introductions, in some cases!).

So the likelihood is that, come December 1st, instead of revelling in the fact that I wrote fifty THOUSAND words in a thirty day window, I will be sobbing quietly into my Andrex toilet roll (I don’t buy proper tissues, because I’m not a pensioner) since I still won’t have enough words to work until I have that first draft that NaNoWriMo proudly exudes we will have at the end of the event.

I suppose my main aspiration out of NaNoWriMo this year is to realise that my goal is a first draft, and not just about reaching the numbers (although that is a bonus, naturally).  The reasons I have failed at writing this stuff so many times before has been down to various poorly conceived excuses, well-said in this blog post, including some of my favourites:

8. I can’t remember the filename.

21. My novel? Oh, it’s all right here in my head. I just haven’t written it down yet. But it’s gonna be brilliant!

A novel swirling around in your head — no matter how vibrant and wonderful — is only important to you, and while that may be good enough for some, for others, you just need to get those ideas out there for others to enjoy (and ridicule!). If I continue to put it off, as I have been doing since 2005 and onwards for all four books I intended with great enthusiasm to write following The Genesis, I may end up leaving a legacy of nothing but “shoulda woulda coulda”.

Of course, this isn’t intended to be a disparaging post, by any means. Well, not really.  Maybe a bit.  I only have to remind myself that The Vampire’s Son, the second book in the series and the one I wrote for (and won!) my first ever NaNoWriMo last year — and another one that had been sitting patiently on the back-burner for years — is yet to get a complete story.  I wrote 50k for that, also, with about the same speed and exubreance and I am doing now

Although maybe now I’m getting a little further on account of I like Divided They Fall better.  No, wait, that sounds mean. I love all my stories equally. Wow, what a massive lie.

Moving on!

So this weekend, I’m winging off to my muse’s house for a weekend of writing folly and wonder (although she’s told me she’s recently adopted a kitten, so no doubt the majority of the weekend will be spent watching it roll around white going ‘awwwwwwwwwwww’ uncontrollably), whereby I hope to sustain my writing drive and also to work out just how much writing it’s presumed I’ll need to do in order to create a complete first draft of Divided They Fall, something that has been in the pipeline for the better part of FIVE years.

How is everyone else’s Week Three going thus far?  Have we gotten over the dreaded Week Two slump?  Have we gained a momentum towards our goal?  Does anyone else think that 50k isn’t going to be enough, or is that just me?