from Emily Bryan
Well, I've been NaNoWriMo-ing for a little while now and I'm ready to throw in the quill.
For those of you who aren't familiar with National Novel Writing Month, the goal is to produce a 50K word novel by November 30th. Quality of writing is not the main focus. Output is the sole metric by which success is measured. The whole point is to pop your creative cork, silence your internal editor and let the story flow.
Judging from what I've produced, I need my internal editor.
The story flowing out of me is a disjointed mess. I have two guys in my ramblings, either of whom might be the hero, but neither of them seem to be stepping up to don the hero's mantle. My POV is spotty, my sense of place ambiguous. The only thing that seems to be working is the dialogue, which is freakin' hilarious.
Unfortunately, that was not my intent.
When I studied music, I learned about John Cage, an avant garde musician so devoted to the philosophy of randomness his most famous piece is called 4'33' (Four minutes and 33 seconds during which not a single note is played on the theory that some ambient noise might intrude in the concert hall and create "chance music.")
What I've produced doing NaNo is a "chance story." It's literary random noise.
I don't mean this as a slam against anyone for whom the NaNo method is working. If you're happy with your results, God bless you. I'm happy for you. Truly.
But we're all wired differently and I'm done chasing my tail. I've invited my internal editor back out to play so we can make some sense of this mess. I've learned something of value here. I need structure. I need an overarching plan when I write. I need to do all my pre-work instead of charging blithely into word spewing. It doesn't work for me. Like Edison learning thousands of ways not to make a lightbulb, I've learned a way for me not to write a novel.
How about you? Are you doing NaNo? What do you like about it? What's your experience with this method been like?
PS. I'm also at House of Muse today, talking about my real life brush with sexual harrassment. (Don't worry. Like all my stories, this one has a happy ending! And commenters are entered in the drawing for a copy of A CHRISTMAS BALL!) And if you need a giggle, please pop over to www.emilybryan.com . I've heard of fan fiction, but this is the first example of "fan photoshop." It's hysterical, I promise!
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Friday, November 13, 2009
from Emily Bryan