Thursday, December 6, 2012

Nano - 2012

I took part in Nanowrimo, this year, and was successful in writing 50k of fiction, in 30d.  I actually wrote a little over 52k, but who's counting.  My screenname (dancingfool) appears on page 158 of the 772 pages of winners...   there were 38,567 people who met that goal, this year.  All in all, there were 3.3 Billion words reported to nano.

Wow, that's a lot of words.  50k is about 175 pages, so 3 billion is, I don't know.. but it's a lot.  Even 175 pages can be a lot, so I've run my story through this really cool software called Wordle... and my story boils down to this:
I'm going to reminisce for a moment, here.    I recall my first nano.. my brother and I had both decided to take on this task, and we were emailing and talking to each other, frequently, providing moral support.  One afternoon, perhaps mid November or a bit later, I called him in a panic.  "My characters have taken over!"  And I explained that, while I'd had one plan in mind, I suddenly found that my story was going in a different direction, all its own.  He shared a similar experience with me ... Whew.. at least I wasn't going crazy, or if I was, I was bringing someone with me...   and we talked about the dilemma of whether to let our characters do their own thing, or if we needed to rein them in.  I know, if you haven't done any writing, you think I'm making this up, or exaggerating.. but if you have done any fictional writing, odds are you know exactly what I'm talking about.  Weird, and kind of spooky.

Then came year two.. and again, at some point, my characters started telling me what to do.  No, I'm not typically prone to hearing voices, but at least this time I was somewhat prepared.  And in year three, I was waiting for this takeover, which I had now come to accept as part of the writing process.

This year, was year four.  My story started off a bit rough.. but that was ok.. I was pumping out the words, knowing that I could always smooth things over, later.  And then my story bogged down a bit.  I knew some stuff that was happening later, but was having trouble getting to 'later'.  That was ok, too.  I jotted down some ideas for later, and kept plugging along.  And it started to become more difficult to push through, but I knew that before long, my characters would come to rescue me, they would talk to me, they would take over.
Except that they didn't.
Oh sure, I realized that Toby was not the minor character, the bumbling idiot I had initially envisioned, and another character who I thought would be more important, refused to do anything of significance.  But I was on my own this year.  I still passed the 50k mark, but it was a heck of a lot of work.  Sure, some odd things happened... things that I wrote early on, even while thinking 'why does this  matter?', became important later on.  Not because I exerted effort to make them important, but because they'd been important all along, I just hadn't realized it.  So maybe my story was talking to me, and I just didn't realize it.

And maybe that's part of the secret of Nano.  Normally, when I write, whether it's an email to a client or an opposing attorney, or a proposed judgment to file with the court, I think very carefully about what I'm writing; I know what all the pieces will be.  There are no surprises, there is no question that I'm in control.  With nano, there's no time for all of that.  I just have to write my story.  Whatever words come out, that's what I write.  And so I suppose that's when my creative juices or whatever, take over, and do their own thing.  Nano forces you to let your inhibitions go, and just let all the words come out, willy-nilly, to be fixed and manipulated and cleaned up, later.  And I guess maybe that's why I like the wordle picture so much.  No sentences, no clear plan, the words don't even all face the same direction.... they're just thrown there, on the page.  And that's what nano is like for me.

I introduced a friend to Bewley's tea, yesterday.. and I introduced another friend to Typhoo tea, today.  Tea for everyone.

and by the way, this is the wordle of this post...


  1. I have never tried to write a story. I'm an avid reader, but just don't believe I have a creative bone in my body (so to speak). I applaud you for completing Nano and placing with the winners!! Awesome! Wordle is quite fun!

  2. I love when the characters take over. And you're right about non-writers not understanding that part. Some writers don't allow it; they miss out on so much fun.

    Thanks for reminding me about Wordle!

  3. Hi Laurie,

    You are on my NaNoWriMo Buddy list.

    Have a Merry Christmas and congrats on winning NaNoWriMo 2012!

    To Your Success!

  4. @Werner - congrats to you, as well, and also congrats @Kat.. we're all proudly wearing our purple banners!

    @Terri - until my first nano in '09, I had never written a story, nor had I blogged. Take a chance, come on in, the water's fine!!

  5. Well, after reading this - I'm kind of bummed that I didn't jump in to the NaNo pool this year. I just had no story. Not even a kernel of an inkling. I'm going to continue brainstorming to make sure I've got something to grab onto next year. Not sure what kind of books I should pick up to get inspiration...but I'll figure out something. Or...I won't.

    1. can't cross my fingers, need those for typing, but I'll keep my feet crossed that you'll decide to join the fun next year.

  6. I don't get this character takes over business that others get. Perhaps I ought to start drinking tea - is that the secret?
    (or maybe it's just less whisky)

    1. Really? You haven't had a character take over? You haven't had the story suddenly veer off in a direction other than what you planned?
      Hmmm, maybe it's neither the tea, nor the whisky, perhaps you just need to get less sleep, so that your subconscious can exert a bit more control!