Today marks the halfway point in the 2013 National Novel Writing Month, and I have written 12,142 words—exactly half of the 50,000 minimum required to “win.”
Now, I can hear you all scratching your heads, checking your calendars, doing a bit of subtraction (let’s see, make that a 4, carry the pi, solve for x if the train leaves the station at 7 p.m.…) And I know what you’re going to say. “Ha, ha, ha. Silly word-writing man, you can’t do math. And November has thirty days. Don’t you remember the little poem?” But you’re just going to have to trust me. This is the halfway day.
It’s been a rough start.
I’ll explain, but first a confession: I am not writing a brand-new book. In fact, this will be about the fourth time I have written this particular story, and it will be the second time I have actually finished it. Many years ago, this tale was the very first manuscript I ever proudly handed to my wife as a completed first draft. (My pride was quickly pounded against the rocky shores of reality. Boy, did it stink.) It’s had two different titles, not including the unprintable epithets I have given it in my head. And it, not Legitimacy, was originally going to be Book One of the Vanilla Cycle. Imagine that.
So why did I think it would be a good idea to attempt to whip out a shiny new first draft during the winsome, tossed-salad days of NaNoWriMo 2013? I’ll give you a clue. It starts with an N. Not naiveté, although that’s a good guess. Nor was it narcissism. I’m still kind of noob, but I’m no novice. No, I’m telling you, it was NEED.
Not only was it time to write this—it will be Book Two of the Vanilla Cycle—but I absolutely have to get it out of my head, to set it in concrete once and for all, and finally breathe. I’ve had this story in me for way too long. But even after myriad attempts I’ve never found quite the right way to tell it. So I’m making myself finally do it.
Like I said, it’s been a rough start.
It’s taken me twelve days, but it seems to be coming together. I’ve forced myself to wrestle with most of the knottier details, and there’s an ever-expanding, increasingly smelly graveyard of darlings buried in the backyard. I’m at last finding how to express the day-to-day, minute-to-minute, details of these characters’ lives in a way that conveys the Story—the one with a capital S, the one you don’t realize a novel is telling you. I think this was the trick that I’d misplaced, or nearly forgotten in the bottom of my toolbox, during months of nonstop revision and editing. It feels good to finally be stretching my noveling muscles again.
So, yep, I’m calling this the halfway day. I’ve expended fully one-half of the energy required to cross the finish line on time. To this point it’s mostly been my frustration, fear, and fury fueling the fire. Sure the word count math may be fuzzy, but I’m finally feeling good—the last half of the month is going to be fun.