3 November: The initial excitement starts to fade

Day three. After an initial easy sprint, where I wondered why anyone thinks nanowrimo is hard…I’ve remembered why. The requirement to write 1,667 words a day, every day, whether you want to or not… Whether you feel like it or not. Whether the muse has graced you with her presence. Whether you think the chapter is complete dross and will be cut on 1 December. Whether your mates are inviting you out for a few beers. Whether it’s your birthday and your parents are taking you to some swanky restaurant with things you’ve never heard of on the menu.  Whether you have to spend 6 hours on a coach, then have a job interview and spend another 6 hours on the coach coming home…

You can skip it one day, of course. Hello 3,334 words.

Sometimes writing is like pulling teeth. Every word is a struggle, every facile, dull, repetitive word…

Sometimes it’s effortless, like these are a bunch of real people who are taking you along for the ride and all you have to do is observe it.

Sometimes struggling through the first leads gratifyingly to the second. Sometimes it doesn’t.

I should imagine writing professionally consists of rather more pain than pleasure. And this is just the original writing. Editing is a whole other level of torture.

As Hemingway said, “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”

My novel so far seems to have been mostly about people hiding out in unlikely places, including a secret hideaway under the old palace and an old prison hulk moored off-shore. This part of the story is about increasing tension as many of the main characters are being sought/pursued by less than pleasant elements. Eventually various characters make decisions based on having to resolve this situation. From there they travel to different parts of the country to achieve certain tasks.

I try to keep it different from the standard ‘quest’ fantasy novel. There are no magical artefacts to be obtained (probably), no prophesies. Just information and allies to be found. I try to avoid making my characters standard fantasy archetypes.

Today I wrote a long conversation – most of a chapter – in which once character told the other a piece of history.  I’m not really happy with that much ‘telling not showing’ even if it wasn’t me (the disembodied author’s voice) doing the telling. However, I needed one character to impart this information to another (and coincidently the readers) so I’m not sure what other methods there are to achieve this. It will all be dealt with in editing. It might even turn out that it reads ok – I’ll have to see what my test-readers think!

Other observations from day three.  Planning really helps! I could have done more to be honest. I might turn into a closet planner. It’s probably a bit like cake. You consume more and more until you’re suddenly sick before realising it.

Today’s total was 2,358 words – all written on the coach on a netbook – bringing the running today to 6,208 words (1,207 more than I need to be at this point).  This is 12 pages of single spaced, Times New Roman 12pt for those of you who think that way.

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