Monday, November 12, 2007

NaNoWriMo: A few reflections on the past 11 days

Eleven days into the 30 days of NaNoWriMo and I've discovered that "write what you know" doesn't necessarily mean what I thought it did, at least not for me.

The first few days, I struggled with trying to start with the known world, and I came up short. I would begin with a situation that I knew, then try to fictionalize ... but trying to take my reality across the great canyon-like divide to my character's fictional world just wasn't working. I wasn't able to make the leap. I'd try, and fall into the deep crevasse with its many sharp rocks. Trying to shed a 13-year relationship and three kids and a long career and many other personal quirks, it was painful. I felt like I was bouncing Homer Simpson-style from sharp rock to sharp rock into the ravine and then trying to pull my damaged, near lifeless character back out. Trying to flesh out one character, I kept thinking "but where did the kids go?" "did they die?" (couldn't go there for a backstory, it's a mom thing) or "but I don't know what single life is like." Every attempt felt like I was cheating on my actual life. It was really silly. But it was simply too personal to start with myself and then try to shed identifiable elements in my effort to channel the fictional world. I couldn't let go. And I spent many hours staring at the computer screen forcing myself to type SOMETHING.

Yesterday was a completely different experience. All of the sudden scenes were flowing out hundreds of words at a time. Instead of hitting "word count" and finding myself 50 or 100 words further when I was hoping for many more, I'd find my word count go up by nearly 1,000 words at a time, and it seemed nearly effortless. Some editing will definitely be needed later, but it's like I'd finally gotten the muse to stay in the room for more than 5 minutes at a time.

The biggest switch? Perspective.

Instead of looking across that canyonlike divide between my nervous reality and the freedom of the fictional world and wondering how to transport myself across the spanse, instead of trying to transform myself into something I'm not, I'm now taking a person from the fictional world and working in some of "what I know" as secondary details to the story. And I feel silly that I was stuck in the first place. I feel like this is knowledge I once knew, that this tact is actually quite elementary -- but my fiction gears were oh, so rusty.

So here's hoping I can keep up the pace ... and seeing as it's a stormy day, a holiday, and the kids are being good ... I might actually get a bit ahead at last and be able to breathe a little easier this week.

1 comment:

EGV said...

That is crazy interesting. Please do another 'reflections' at 16 or 21.