Once again I find myself in that dubious position of looking at the calendar and admitting that I will not be finishing NaNoWriMo this year. To be honest, I am okay with that. I love the idea of National Novel Writing Month, but I don’t need it the way I once did. The idea of NaNoWriMo is to force the budding author to set aside distraction, editing, and all other forms of excuses that keep a novel from being written, so that they can finally get those words onto the screen.
I do that anyway.
This year I intended to take a break from working on my novella in order to participate. I could spend the time working on the second part of my epic sci-fi piece so that I would have it that much closer to ready when I finish my Armageddon Angels series. I sat down and tried to focus in on the first book, but I just could not get into the groove. There were so many errors and inconsistencies that I wanted to edit, fix and rewrite the whole mess, not jot down notes before starting the timeline for the next book. Strike One.
When the end of October started closing in I found that I was ill prepared for the November kickoff. No outline, no real concept of where to go with the story, and almost no motivation to focus my little time and effort on the project. Add to that the fact that I was running a blog tour for Apocalypse in the Balance and I was well past the point of being prepared to fight through NaNoWriMo. Make no mistake, it is a brutal fight for the writer, and poor training and preparation leaves you doomed to failure. Strike Two.
November kicked off and I decided that I would work on some of my Armageddon Angel stuff, which I already had prepared, and just not count the material written before November. I sat down on November first, stared at my monitor, place my fingers upon the keyboard, and said, “Fuck it.” Strike Three
I didn’t want to do it. I didn’t want to set aside my normal writing process in favor of smashing out a half done ball of crap, because lets be honest here, that is exactly what NaNoWriMo churns out. Crap. Fifty-thousand words worth of crap. There is nothing wrong with doing NaNoWriMo, but if you do nothing with the results, such as copious amounts of editing and rewriting, then all you are left with is a stinking pile of garbage that no one will want to read.
I have plenty of writer friends that participate in this fall ritual, but they don’t publish what they write until they have spent countless hours rewriting and editing the results. More power to them. There is a part of me that wishes I could do it, but I just can’t write that way. My first draft is anything but perfect, but I have found that I cannot just spew words onto the screen and hope to come back to it later. I have a hard time getting past all of the errors I make when I am taking my time writing a story, and rereading the one successful NaNoWriMo novel I finished I can only look back in utter horror. Some day I will revisit it, clean it up and edit it, but I’m not going to add to the mess by throwing more NaNoWriMo crap at it.
To those of you that are still fighting your way through NaNoWriMo, let me just say, “Keep it up. Press on. It is worth it. When you are done you will look back at what you have written and feel a sense of accomplishment that is completely deserved.” I mean every word of that. Just because it doesn’t work for me doesn’t mean it doesn’t work for someone else or that it is not worth doing. Of course, I am also going to say, once it is done, “Set it aside. That book you just created needs a chance to simmer for a bit. No, go forth and edit it. Be merciless. Ask friends for help. Don’t be afraid to add an additional chapter or nine. It will still be your NaNoWriMo book and you can even claim it as such in the forward of your book, but for God’s sake, do not send that thing to an editor in December. Maybe next October would be a better month to send it in. Seriously. If you so much as hit send on that e-mail or put a stamp on that manuscript envelope, I will hunt you down and beat you with a stick.”