Monday, October 17, 2016

The Office Move and NaNo

I've moved into my winter office.  This is always a big thing.  I often wait until too late, and it's cold and miserable.  I'm not certain why I wait, to be honest.  I like being in the office, which is a nice cozy little room with books and on the right and teas on the left.  I think it's just the idea of moving things.  It went better this year because I bought a $20 desk for the smaller room.  The room feels much larger without the huge L-shaped desk in here.  The cats aren't as happy and that's going to be a problem, but so far, I like it.

The temperature dropped down below freezing tonight and the rest of the house does not have heat.  So the little room with the heater is a must. While the temps are going to be much better for the next two weeks, it is a sign that Winter is Coming.  I wonder how much snow we'll get this year.  I wonder if I should start ordering in a lot more tea.  You have to be safe, you know.

I need to focus on my outline again.  There is just barely two weeks until November, and while I'm happy with what I have for Raventower 2, I know that I need to fill some areas out still.  Sometimes outlines just don't seem to flow as well as others do, and this is one of those outlines where /**////// (message from my cat Wind) I see flashes of things, and whispers -- and a bit of a scene here, but where does it fit in?  Oh, this has to happen before X happens, so set it here for now and see what is happening around it that influences -- oh yes, that could lead to this and this and this.

And gradually the story unfolds.  This is the difficult outline for me.  Most of them flow in a nice linear projection, with only a few pieces that I go back and add in (much easier in an outline than in a manuscript since everything that happens has to affect what happens later).  It all works out.  Not Raventower 2.  It's fun, though, to have things work in different ways.  This one is a puzzle, not a line.  I have all the big pieces at the corners and the middle, but adding in the parts to link them together is far more work than usual. 

I've started going through the outline and I have several chapters set in place, though some of them will still require a little more info.  I have notes that will be at least fifteen more chapters.  So let's say I have a total of 30 chapters for the book and each chapter averages about 4k words.  There is a lovely 120k first draft.  Raventower 1 is 131k, and that means the second book could be long enough to stand with it.  I didn't want a second novel that was noticeably shorter than the first.

Besides, there is a lot of story to tell here -- it's just difficult to sort it out this time.

I will have the outline ready for NaNo.  Having moved to the office means no move in the middle of my massive writing splurge.  I wonder how it is going to go this year, though.  I have two nice outlines already and the Raventower 2 one is almost finished.  I do not have a job this year.  I shouldn't have anything to stress over -- though we all know how well that kind of thought goes.

Really, though, I have good thoughts about this year's NaNo, which is a really important part of the whole challenge.  I've found it is best to go into it thinking you are simply going to have fun.  The moment I start thinking that I must have something important when I'm done with November, it stops being enjoyable.

Okay, so if I write so much already, why bother?

It's that fun part I was talking about.  NaNo is an intellectual marathon and you are taking part in it with thousands of others.  Some will be very, very fast and rush through the 50,000 words and stop.  Some will write words and words and words -- for them, it is about how much they can type in one month and less about the story they write.  There will be people who work out exactly how many words they need to write each day to get 50k exactly on the last day of the month.  Most of us, though, are writing to create a story we will be working with later.  We understand the power of first drafts, and how important it is to write the entire story, rather than (as too often happens) getting bogged down in the small details and losing sight -- and interest -- in the rest of the tale.

That's a part many anti-NaNo people don't quite understand.  Anyone who is serious about writing knows that you have to edit.  Whether you write very slowly or very quickly doesn't matter; you will still be going over it (often more than once) after it is done.  Enjoy the act of creation -- whether you write slowly or fast doesn't matter.  NaNo is not going to make you a novelist, nor is it a sign that you fail as one if you don't write those 50k words.  We are not all the same and we don't all work in the same way.

If you write slowly, don't sneer at those who are taking part in NaNo and pretend to some elitist perfection based only on how fast you create a first draft.  I've worked with authors for over a decade now and I can tell you that I've seen first drafts that took years to write that were no better than ones written in a few weeks by another person.  The speed of writing makes no difference.

In fact, nothing counts at all except for the final draft, and even then you have to take into account taste.

If a writer is willing to keep learning and practicing their art, they will get better.  Not everyone wants to work that hard and they write for fun.  This is true for NaNo and in the rest of the writing world.

In the end, the only thing you can judge is the final draft.  How it got from idea to that point should be no concern for the reader.  So if you judge a story by anything but the final published draft, then you are simply being pretentious.  You can read and point out errors, but if you haven't read it, don't make assumptions.

Reviews pointing out specific problems is a different matter.  Every author needs to learn what is wrong with their writing and some of them are too rushed to get to publication.  It's a difficult lesson to learn because even many beginning writers think that writing is easy.

This is hard work and there is always something more to learn -- but it is worth it in the end.  Besides, the work part is fun!

No comments: