It’s Day 14, and I’ve been plugging away at NaNoWriMo and neglecting my Japanese studies. I really need to study; I have the Japanese Language Proficiency Test in December, so my time spent writing may need to be decreased. But besides the point, in day 14, I’ve learned a lot about NaNo even more than my five years of doing it. For the first time ever, I’ve browsed the forums for plot help and inspiration. I’ve even offered a little bit of advice and encouraged others for the first time! During Camp NaNoWriMo, I participated in some word wars with my cabin mates, who’ve recently reunited with for this year’s NaNo. I even did a word war against myself, which was really inspiring and satisfying. It felt nice to get my word count up.
So this year…This year I can say it’s different. It feels different but at the same time nostalgic. I’m breaking the not-finishing-my-novel cycle with the same momentum I had when I first started NaNoWriMo back in 2009. I could’ve finished that novel back then, but I got sick and ended it around 25,000 words. Although I recovered physically, I never recovered imaginatively, but this year, the Lord has given me that same momentum, and I’m about to break 20,000 words–Lord’s will tonight.
There are some similarities, however, with the past years. In 2012, I scrapped an overly-detailed novel I was working on for another, and in 2013, I teetered back in forth between my main NaNo novel and some other more obscure plot without a name. (Scary, right?) This year, I kindly traded my original plot for another more interesting tale. The difference is instead of ending up with two unfinished failures, I have kept pressing forward on my new plot. I actually enjoy it. I enjoy it so much that I enjoy rewriting and adding to the first chapter. I barely finished chapter one last night…or so I hope.
As for what was wrong with my first story, it was too delicate for NaNoWriMo as I learned. I say delicate because NaNoWriMo to me is an all out war against self, against the nagging inner editor, against the pen and paper, and against time. It felt pretty vicious to subject such a story to this kind of…battle. Although I liked the plot, I decided it wasn’t a story that I could write for NaNoWriMo. Because of the complexity of the characters and plot, I felt that it was a story that I could write a bit on and then let ruminate for a couple of weeks before I ventured back to it again. In short, I find the story more enjoyable if I’m writing on it for maybe weeks at a time as opposed to every single day. The thought of “sitting down with this novel” came to my mind, and I think that doing that through NaNo would not be the best option. I am accustomed to using NaNo as an excuse to get a novel written–any novel, any plot that I’ve been holding onto for too long, but I found out that it’s not the case. Some novels, I learned, are not meant to be written at the pace NaNo, and perhaps that was my problem in earlier years.
As I wrote this novel during the NaNo month, I just found it to be unenjoyable, because I really wanted to spend time with this novel, and I think NaNo wasn’t helping me accomplish that. I was so tempted to edit as I wrote, and that became a great setback for me. I found myself falling dreadfully behind, and somewhere around day nine when I was contemplating scrapping it, I decided I would go to some other plot I had thought up randomly. But, my first novel, I am not making it an unfinished prose destined for the “Unfinished Stories” folder on my harddrive, but rather, I am making it a “Story to be Revisited in the Future After NaNo.”
The novel I have now is really exciting. It’s completely literary fiction as I wanted the other novel to be, and the plot is very intriguing to me. I don’t know my characters all that well, either, which makes it exciting. It’s like working with a completely new cast that you know nothing about. I’ve been sitting here trying to develop the complex character of a girl who has no real name–to my understanding. Maybe it will be revealed in later chapters or maybe she will continue to be called by the name she has now. I just thank the Lord that I’ve found a plot I can run with, and I’m praying to hit 50K and beyond. How satisfying that would be.