Every November, I tell myself I’ll do better and NaNo, keep to target, exceed it even. Then when November rolls around again, I realise that it’s the busiest time of year at my day job and, if I wanted to focus on NaNo, I really needed to take some leave.
So here I am, no leave, still working full time during one of the busiest times of year for my job, and writing about half as much as I need to in order to win NaNo.
I do have a couple of big writing days planned, so hopefully that will bump my word count up again.
Today I’m at a shopping centre, hoping to break 11000 words before I go home. Tomorrow I’m hosting a write-in at the library where I work, so that will be another four to five hours solid writing. I’ll miss most of the mid-week write-in locally as I have a work thing on, but I’ll make the Saturday write-in and am also hosting another write-in on Sunday.
The dedicated write-ins seem to work best for me at the moment. My story is coming very slowly so trying to take advantage of an unexpected ten minute wait for something doesn’t work. I barely have time to read through the last scene and start thinking about where it needs to go before I have to pack up again.
I thought I’d share today what I’ve written this morning. This is the first inkling, other than an ancient and irritating song, that Fisher has that he’s something a bit unusual. Btw: Artemis is a dragon (with multiple forms); that’s why Fisher accuses him.
Air rushed from Fisher’s mouth. His chest ached. Darkness swallowed him. Around him, rock pressed against him, crushing his ribs against his spine, and his nose flat. Granite sliced past his arm, stuck out in front, his fist clamped tightly around Artemis’ bicep. Spots swam in front of him, ghostly lights in the darkness. Fisher chased them, thinking they were light, but soon realized it was because he wasn’t breathing.
He couldn’t breathe. Just like under the water.
Fisher opened his mouth, panic tossing a scream around inside his head, bouncing around like his fractured thoughts. Air rushed in, cool and metallic down his throat. In his head, he screamed. In his ears, it was a whimper. And still he fell backward, as if through molasses, suspended in time. He heartbeat pounded in his ears and his head, and his throat, like it didn’t come from his chest but through every spurt of blood pumping in his veins. Thump, thump. Thump, thump. He screamed again.
Then he landed on his back on rough gravel. Artemis’ arm wrenched from his hold and Artemis landed beside him and on top of him with a thump and a sharp elbow in Fisher’s stomach.
“Oof.” Stars blinked overhead. Stars. They were outside. He lifted his head. They were on a mountain path that skirted the rocky wall of the mountain. As fisher stared at the mountain, a gash in the rock rumbled closed. He wrenched his feet away from the narrowing gap, in the process kicking Artemis onto the path. “What the fuck?” Fisher scrambled crab-like backwards, pushing his heels against the gravel until he was far, far away from the granite wall, his shoulders hanging over the downward slope. The air was cool and fresh on his face and around his neck. His chest heaved and his head spun like he was still short of air, even though he was in the open now. “No way,” he panted. “No way.” That couldn’t have happened. There was no way he could move through rock. He couldn’t have.
Artemis. It must have been him. Fisher rose to his knees and crawled shakily to where Artemis laid, unmoving. Fisher shoved against Artemis’ shoulder. “What did you do?” He pushed against Artemis again. “What the fuck did you do?” His voice rose, hysteria edging his continued prodding at Artemis. Artemis didn’t respond. Fisher knelt over him, put both hands on Artemis’ shoulder and shoved.
Artemis rolled, then coughed. Hacked. Sputtered. Gasped. Panted. Scrambled to his feet, stumbled away from the rock outcrop. Looked wildly at Fisher. “What? What?” Even in the faint starlight, Fisher could see the whites of Artemis’ eyes. “What the fuck did you do?”
NaNoWriMo started on Tuesday. I was prepared. I had my novel plotted, all the character profiles done, world building complete. I’d even written to 30000 words and was ready to begin a new chapter in a convenient place so I knew exactly where to begin counting the NaNo words. The NaNo chapters are labelled differently so I don’t lose track of where I began. I’d also created a table so that I wasn’t constantly straining to write 1667 words every single day because my life doesn’t work like that.
So, how did I go?
Day 1: 1748 words
Day 2: 3242 words
On track, ahead of schedule.
Day 3: A very long day at work. I kept falling asleep as I typed. 169 words. Still on schedule.
Day 4: Still the falling asleep problem: 411 words. I’m behind.
Day 5: Today. I’m out of town catching up with friends, socialising, eating, drinking, having fun. No writing yet. Perhaps none at all today.
Where to from here? I’ll spend a couple of hours catching up with things in the house, then I’ll go to the nearest library and write for a while. With luck, I’ll catch up the shortfall and be back on track.
That’s one of the benefits of the table I created. I no longer feel guilty or anxious if I don’t write 1667 words in a day. As long as I make one of the targets on my table, I’m fine. The table gets adjusted too, so it remains at a total of 50000 words.
That’s the ten minutes I allocated to type this up. I’m going back to the champagne and company now (both excellent). I’ll be back next week with another NaNo update, and perhaps an excerpt from the book I’m writing.
It’s only a few days now until NaNoWriMo begins. I’m not starting a new novel. I’m hoping to get the one I’m working on to a nice round number before I start so it’s easier to keep track of how much I write. I’m sitting on 27000 words so if I get it to 30000 by Monday night, I might even have a chance to finish the story by the end of November (or mid-December). My final target is 85000 words.
I have no idea if I’m on target to reach that. I tend to write in layers. Firstly, I write the action with some description. Then I layer in more description and some emotion. After that, I check the characters’ goal, motivation and conflict, and add whatever action needs to be added and change the rest so it fits. Then comes more description and emotion. A check of goal, motivation and conflict follows, along with tying up any loose ends. That’s at least five passes on the book to get it to what I call first draft stage. The final draft could be shorter or longer.
If I’m writing a novella, usually that’s enough and it’s ready to submit. If it’s a novel, the plot is much more involved and it takes longer, and more passes, to make sure each plot arc is sufficient and complete.
I know other writers can write a complete novel in one pass and then just tighten and edit, but my brain doesn’t work that way. I can’t keep all the convolutions in my head at the same time; that’s why I layer things in. It’s time consuming and sometimes I miss basic things because I’m focused on something else at the time, but it seems to work well enough most of the time.
I’d better get back to it. I’ve left Fisher and Artemis wandering through a coastal jungle, under threat by pirates and norrgel (see Warrior Pledge). So far they’ve survived arrest, incarceration, attempted drowning, poisoning, kidnap, being drugged, and nearly drowning again. I need to work out what the next bad thing is that happens to them.
E E Montgomery
About writing, life, and random thoughts.
All Author Interview Books Characters Coming Soon Conflict Cover Reveal Editing Excerpt Family Fantasy Free Stories Goal Holiday Holidays Maps Memories Miscellaneous MM Romance Motivation NaNoWriMo New Contract New Release Plotting Poetry Publications Reading Reviews Setting Special Events Synopsis Writing The Gingerbread House Travel Website What I'm Reading Words To Know World Building Writers Life Writing Writing Courses Writing Habits Writing Retreats Year Of The Novel