Thursday, December 02, 2004


I didn't post anything about my NaNo effort yesterday, even though I was home sick, because I was so disappointed. Granted, I knew I wasn't going to reach the 50,000 word goal for a multitude of reasons, but I was trying. And really, for a lot of people, it's just about the chance to sit down and write down that story that's been floating around their brains for the past year, and to be a part of something larger. That's it.

This year, I'd hoped to surpass last year's word count. Last year, I gave up - as in, stopped trying altogether - around November 20th. This year, I managed to write something every day - even if it was only a few hundred words.

Last year, I would get bored with whatever scene I was working with, abandon it (sometimes mid-sentence) and start another scene. This year, I had very linear ideas about what happens in what order, and I didn't need to skip over parts because I didn't know what happened next.

Last year, I didn't really like most of my characters. Other characters kept popping up, but since I hadn't planned on them, they felt forced and took me away from the main plot. This year, I loved all my characters and had a lot of fun introducing them; the occasional uncounted on character fit in well and didn't cause problems, and--

(Listen to me, sounding all literary and pretentious. I bet you think I'm sitting at a neat and orderly desk, wearing a tweed skirt and a cardigan, with a neat white blouse and my hair in a bun and my glasses on a chain. There's a cup of tea and a plate of shortbread at my elbow, and I'm looking out the window at the snow falling gently on the trees in the forest behind my house. The reality - my desk is actually an Ikea table, and there's a fake red button on my monitor that says "PANIC." I'm wearing the yoga pants I wear to belly dancing and a t-shirt that says "...and God said: [algebraic equation] ... and there was light." My hair is in messy pig tails because it's really too short for that. There is a knitting project at each elbow and a mostly empty bag of cashews. The snow is falling, but on rush hour traffic, complete with fire engine sirens because my apartment's near both a fire station and the hospital. I hope this banishes your image of me as a writerly snob.)

--I still had two characters I really liked to introduce.

Last year, my plot was eye-rollingly insipid. This year, the plot was clever and less eye-rollingly insipid.

Last year's word count (all six separate files): 11,024 words.
This year's word count (one file): 10,954 words.

Words escape me. I can't tell you how depressed I was when I found that out Wednesday morning at 12:01 AM. I HATED everything about my story last year, yet it still came out ahead. (Oh, I'm sure that everyone else will draw the same parallels between the two NaNo stories and the recent American elections that just dawned on me).

The most disappointing thing? I didn't get to use my favourite dare: "I dare you to somehow, some way involve the line 'Never fall in love with a Korean boy' in your novel. Especially if the circumstances surrounding the line are totally unrelated. and especially if it comes from a wise old Chinese sage" (courtesy Tea_and_Muffins). My second favourite dare was: "Have one of your characters (preferably male) become obsessed with knitting" (courtesy ScaperMoon). I had totally planned on using both of those - in fact, I had figured out how to alter the plot so I could use them.

(Want to see the rest of the dares I liked and didn't get to use? Go here.)

I'm toying with the idea of continuing to work on it. I know I said I was going to do that with the story I started last year, but didn't. But I had fun working on this one, so I hope I can keep going. And, of course, I plan on doing it again next year!

A huge thanks to everyone who's emailed me or left comments asking how I was making out. Big thanks to Karen, who let me sound off about my plot-tastic ideas and celebrated the word count with me every day at lunch. Also big thanks to Robin, from whom I got the idea when we were toying with plot ideas for a short story entitled "Silk Chaps and Leather Kimonos" (long - very long - story). Shout-outs to The Lady and that smarmy Aussi Nick (who hit his word count days before the deadline - "I'm not worthy"-style worshipping is going on right now). And extra special congrats to everyone else who participated - I was honoured to be in such great company this year!