Thursday, December 02, 2010

Don't do what I do (or did, anyway)

There are traditions in NaNoWriMo as in many things we humans do. And I'm known as a sucker for traditions - or any form or rite or ritual.

One of the traditions is a "List of things I learned doing NaNo". Tempting as that may be, it has as a basis the assumption that one has learned. That's stretching things in my case.

I'll do with the simpler "post mortem" analysis of how the month of November went. If you look to the right on this blog, you'll get an overview of how things went. On a day-to-day basis - not nearly as well as they might.

I began with some preparation, a few (brief) character studies, a (small) set of scenes and how they would play out. The intent was not to do a full outline of the story, but to get the bones laid down. The meat would come (ever hopeful as I am) during the month.

As it turned out, I never got more than the handful of scenes together. I kept telling myself during the month that I should take the time to create more scene sketches. Didn't happen. The ending of the story came to me about the middle of the month. However, I was quite concerned that I didn't know how to get from where I was to where I could see the story end. For a long time I was uncertain the story had fifty thousand words in it. Again - wrong.

I did add one or two more character sketches as I went along - largely so I could remember their names.

The other pre-NaNo tradition upheld was the buying of some new Levenger writing pads. It would not do to run out before the month end. Given the number I bought, there was no danger of that happening.

I had planned to use my Visconti Homo Sapiens fountain pen for the entire 50,000 words. Not so easily done when the ink runs out before the idea does. In such cases I just grabbed the nearest one with ink, and continued. There are parts of my novel written in a delicate shade of green and others in a rich navy blue. These courtesy of two Aurora Optima fountain pens.

I discovered it is best not to write a huge number of words with a pen where it's not possible to see how much ink has been drawn in at the last filling - or how much is left. The Homo Sapiens is a joy to write with and, even at speed, makes my handwriting look good. But the uncertainty of how much ink remained finally got to me.

I fell back on my excellent black and gold Waterman Carène. A beauty of a pen, and a beauty to write with.

But I let the time get away from me, in a most unforgivable way. The last day was a long-distance sprint. If that description seems to contain a contradiction, so be it. It also describes the eleven thousand plus word day quite well.

However, as can be seen, I made it. It was very difficult to come down from the high the day after. And, why would I want to?


  1. I think you LIKE the torture of cramming at the end. ;) Congrats on getting it all down on paper though, no matter what color ink it's in.

    On a side note - would you please go back to Karen's blog and do some more explaining? I rather enjoyed where you were going...

  2. *grins* there may be some truth in what you're suggesting, Laura. Truth's a ugly thing sometimes, no? :D

    Regarding further explanation on Karen's, I know I should quit when I'm already behind

  3. Kevin, you're amazing. 11k words in one day and your hand didn't drop off? My hand starts aching if I write more than a thousand words since I become more used to typing than handwriting.

    I have a feather quill that I like to write personal letters in and it makes my hand ache like never before.

    Congrats on reaching the 50k mark! Now that you've finished the challenge you can be more leisurely in going back over your work and revising. Good luck!


  4. Hi Jai. Well, my had felt like it had (or that I should chop it off because of the ache).

    It hadn't and I didn't - but it was touch and go there for a while.

    Thank you for the congratulations. Yes, I will be more leisurely in the revision process - first I have to get the words.

    A quill pen? What a lovely idea for personal letter!

  5. You wrote 11,000 words in one day? That would be amazing if you'd been typing. It's mind-boggling that you wrote them all out in long hand. And then counted them.

    Congratulations! I hope you did something to celebrate!

  6. J, I count at the end of each page - or couple of pages. I don't wait to count the words till the end. I'd still be counting.

    It's hard enough (for me) not to lose count as I'm counting a page's worth. Fifty pages in one of those pads? I'd never finish.

    As to celebrating...I slept.

  7. Congratulations, Kevin. If memory serves (no guarantee with me) long distance sprints also seem to be one of your traditions, but I think you outdid yourself this time. 11K. Ouch! But I knew you could do it.

  8. You're a better man than me, Kevin! I never even read the rules. It all has to be done in longhand???? I couldwould never even attempt that. I can type pretty fast and the words flow when I do but my days of handwriting are LONG gone. I can barely read a shopping list!

  9. @Jon - my sister put it quite succinctly "This family, we need deadlines." Too, too painfully true. Thanks for the congratulations. The story even hangs together, which was a wonderful surprise for me.

    @Susan - No, it doesn't have to be done in longhand. Only if you're as deranged as I am. But I find I like writing by hand. It helps me focus. now, if it only helped me get my rear in gear and get on with it!

  10. I'm impressed that you write with a pen. I used to write only with pen and thought I could never be creative on the computer. Now, as you probably guessed, I write only on the computer. I can get my thoughts down so much more quickly.

  11. Hi Helen, it's not that I don't believe I can be creative on a computer. But I get very distracted (I have little discipline, so appealing to that doesn't help).

    With pen and paper, there are fewer distractions and they help me focus.

    It also gives me an excuse to write with my fountain pens, and to use speech recognition software when I come to enter large amounts of text (flashes and short stories I type after initially writing them on paper).

    So, writing this way is a treat for myself too.

    And, when I'm on a roll, I can get my thoughts down on paper very, very fast. As turned out to be necessary (a self-generated necessity, I do understand).

  12. Congratulations on the productivity, sir. Hope it all edits out well. I'm also fond of tradition and ritual - humans are little without it. NaNo simply isn't one of my rituals.

  13. Understood John. I use NaNo to give myself an enormous kick in the rear. Not the first year, I'll admit. That was simple insanity.

    The story will edit out. It will need it. But the characters, the situation, the resolution hang together.

    At least, that's how I feel about it now.