Monday, 31 October 2011

A Secret Fear

Okay, it's not going to be so secret after this post, obviously. That's more or less the point; expose the %$&*er and hope it goes away.

So here goes:

I'm terrified of this year's NaNo. I have been for some months. Last year went so perfectly and was so much fun that I know this year can't measure up. I'm terrified that the spontaneity NaNo requires will either elude me or cripple my particular project. I'm terrified that I'll start goofing off and playing videogames instead of writing. That I'll find I'm inadequate to the task this time around (particularly embarrassing given my oft-stated intent to break my last year's time of 8 days to 50k). I'm terrified that the struggle of pushing through writing that fast will make me hate it, hate the project, and hurt my love for writing. I'm terrified that competitiveness will get the better of me and I'll annoy all my friends.

In short, I'm terrified that last year was beginner's luck.

A certain amount of it was, of course. 'Bad Romance' as a project really suited NaNo and it just so happened to come along at the right moment. There wasn't time for a lot of outlining so I was able to really go where the story took me. I was able, one way or another, to avoid anyone in authority notiving just how much I was shunning my PhD.

The mature thing to do, naturally, would be to calm down and stop hanging so much on NaNo. Stop obsessing over it and just write. If you know me at all, though, you know I have very little control over my fixations, so maturity is out the window (and let's be honest, that's where it belongs. Mature people don't do NaNo, and it's entirely legitimate to hate them for it XD).

Of course, quite apart from NaNo, I've written three other novels, and the longest I spent on the first draft of any of them was five weeks, so I know I can do it (I've written over 300,000 words in the 12 months since November 1st 2010). Binge-writing suits me when it comes to novels - weirdly, it seems not to with episodes of The Second Realm, even though they're much shorter.

And I do care about my NaNo project (the third book of The Non-Agency, 'Don't Fear the Reaper'), even given how much I screwed up the second book in the trilogy by rushing it. I have a better idea of where I'm going with this one, it's a simpler story, and it's got the grand climax at the end to look forward to (and boy, am I looking forward to it).

So there are weights on both sides of the good/bad scales. I've been shockingly negligent of preparation, though, and while I have a pretty good idea of the essentials of the plot of DFTR I haven't done anything like the in-depth planning that I did for 'Some Kind of Angel'. My biggest worry is the fact that I don't know what the first line's going to be. I intend to start work over breakfast tomorrow morning, just to break the dam, but I'm worried I'll find myself staring at a blank Word doc until I'm late for work.

The worry is getting up to speed. NaNo is all about momentum, and there should be fewer obstacles to my momentum this year than last - provided I can keep away from videogames for a week or two. If I can get some momentum up early on I'll be fine - the main meat of DFTR is a fairly classic fantasy adventure which brings together a couple of ideas I've been dying to turn into a novel for about fifteen years - but there's a 10-12,000-word chunk at the start of setup for that which is mainly full of stuff I suck at.

My goal, then, is to break the back of that before the end of Wednesday. Given how much time I have available in the next two days, even 12,000 words should only be around 600 words an hour, which is about what I do when I'm struggling with chunky stuff. That leaves 5 days of 7,500ish words a day of action and adventure (and one very surly nun) to get me to 50k in 7 days. Tough going, but nothing I've not managed before.

The most important thing, the thing that gives me most hope, though, is that the NaNo website has finally restored functionality for buddies (so I've got lots of people to compare myself to either when I need a poke in the competitive instinct or a stroke to my ego ;D) and that automated graph of your own wordcount against the target (I lived by that thing last year).

Y'know, I'm not as terrified as I was when I started writing this. Success! Here's hoping November is as successful.

Happy NaNoing!


  1. Good luck! I have no idea what to expect from NaNo. I haven't written anything new in a very long time.

  2. Up until yesterday, I thought I was doing Nano. Haven't written anything but blog posts. Sigh.