I’m going to make a solemn promise with you, faithful Bio Break readers and auto-post snatching programs. Since I know that if you’re not participating in the National Novel Writing Month, it’s not as interesting to you to hear about it, I won’t be posting on NaNo unless I’ve also posted on an actual MMO/game topic that day as well. I can’t deny that NaNo will be dominating the next 29 days of my life, but it doesn’t mean that we have to completely flick off the MMO switch either.
So. NaNoWriMo. Turning back to Saturday evening, I was a jittering, nervous, crazy mess. My wife and I attended a NaNo kick-off party earlier that day, which was both encouraging (hey, free goodie bags!) and unnerving for two introverts who are suddenly thrust into a crowd of 50 people you’ve never met and only have one thing in common with. When we left, I took my wife to Best Buy and told her that she was going to get her Dec 10 birthday present a bit early — a brand new laptop to replace her aging computer, so she’d have something shiny and fun to write on. We’re both looking forward to taking our portable computers (I have a netbook I use for seminary) out of the house and writing in various restaurants and coffeeshops this month.
She went to bed early, but there was no way I was going to miss the imaginary starter pistol. I jittered. I worked on my outline. I waited. I read NaNo twitter posts. And then midnight hit, and I was off to the races. I wrote for a good hour (daylight saving time meant that I didn’t have to worry about losing sleep) and by the time the first day of NaNo was done, I’d impressed myself with over 4,000 words put down into semi-coherent story. Today I’m up to 5,820 and counting.
It’s not just about the word count, of course. The word count and deadline combo is the whip to keep you on target and progressing, but the true goal is making up a whole novel with little more than jumbled thoughts and half-baked ideas to begin with. When I did NaNoWriMo in 2006, I made up the entire story as I went along, with absolutely no idea where it would end. This time around, I’m making things easier on myself by creating and using an outline that breaks the plot (and various story threads) down by chapter, giving me a constant nudge as to what I need to be doing for my story and what I should be setting up for a later payoff.
What I’ve quickly realized is that this book is going to be longer than the 50,000 word finish line (50K is really a small novel, after all). Maybe not too much longer, like in the 75,000-100,000 range, but that means that I am going to have to try to maintain a 3-4K/day writing habit for the time being.
A couple of you have asked me what I’m writing. It was an idea I had late last week that quickly grew on me. The story is about five college friends — two guys and three girls — who haven’t seen each other for fifteen years following graduation. They all return for the college’s homecoming for the first time (except for one of the characters who never left, but works at the college as a dean), and rekindle their friendships. They discover that the college is actually folding following a rather bizarre incident five years prior to the start of the story, and that each of them carries a personal crisis that also needs addressing.
There’s a bit of drama, but mostly it’s comedy. I’ve always wondered what it would feel like to return to your college so long after graduation, because part of your mind never feels like you left, but you’d quickly discover that you’re now one of the older grownups in the eyes of the students, and you no longer belong. I’m not throwing myself or my friends into the story, but I am using variations on real-life events as points of inspiration. In my mind’s eye, I see this as a movie that I’m watching very slowly, just jotting down what’s happening on the screen.
I have to say, what I like best right now are my characters. I absolutely adore them. They’re funny, a bit sad, a bit broken, and all a little crazy, as we all are. I care about them, and I have no idea what might happen to them, as my outline really only extends through the first three chapters at this point. I’m curious to find out.