Apologies if you read the title of this post and now have McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime” stuck in your head. Actually, I’m not sorry. Because it’s been stuck in my head (thus the post title), so allow me to share the misery…)
NaNoWriMo is over and I’ve met my 50K word count goal on Novel #2. Novel #1 is ready to be shipped to a professional editor, which means I get to start crafting query letters while I finish Novel #2. All this amidst making a special Christmas for my family of 9. (Husband, 4 small kids, & 3 grown-up stepchildren. Talk about a challenging gift list!)
My “Made with Code” Christmas Tree in honor of my beloved Miami Dolphins.
But you know what? This is what I love. I love to find that perfect gift. I love when I miraculously craft the perfect sentence. I love to see my kids’ eyes light up when they see that Santa brought them the one thing they really wanted. I love when I get a flash of insight into what my characters really want or need, or the reason as to why they do the silly things they do. I love that we’re heading into playoff season for football, and it’s the exciting crunch time for my favorite teams. (#2 favorite Washington Redskins excepted; my hopes for them were dashed in week 5.) For me, this truly is the most wonderful time of the year. And being a writer–having the opportunity to explore my passion–why, it’s like Christmas every day!
This weekend, I cannot wait to settle down in my (somewhat garishly) decorated house, work on my novels, drink homemade eggnog (spiked for me, virgin for the kiddies), and cheer on my Miami Dolphins. (Sorry Baltimore, you may be the home team, but the Dolphins have my heart for always.) Now if I only had a house elf to rub my feet and cook dinner…
I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo once again. Novel one has been written and I already had the outline for the second one in the series. So why not?
Why not, indeed.
Here we are halfway through November and I am on par with my wordcount. The optimistic writer in me cheers. “Yay! Halfway there!” The pessimistic writer in me moans. “Ugh. So much more to do.” Especially when you’re knee-deep in your plot and realize there’s a glaring hole you have to figure out how to plug.
But there is a beauty in NaNoWriMo, and it’s in the freedom that this challenge gives you. The freedom to suck. The freedom to stick a piece of cheap scotch tape over that plot hole and keep moving on. The freedom to just get words down on the paper. You can make sense of them later. Yes, Pessimistic Writer, there is still so much more to do. But take a cue from Optimistic Writer and embrace the fact that you are one word farther than you were yesterday. That’s how books are written. One word after another.
A couple of weeks ago, I finally knocked off my shitty first draft and sent my novel to a few beta readers for feedback. In the meantime, I’ve noticed several places I’ve screwed up–and I’m not even talking about the typos that run rampant throughout the draft! I accidentally left a chapter out when I compiled everything. I reversed two other chapters. When I changed up the plot, it made some previous characters and events irrelevant or nonsensical–but I forgot to rewrite those passages or edit those characters. My poor beta readers–they’re probably trying to figure out a way to tell me my novel makes as much sense as the Kardashians’ fame.
In short, I seem to have made a mess of it. *Sigh* Please pass the wine!
But it’s okay–because the important thing is, I got through the first draft. And I’m now moving on to the second one. The feedback continues to come in from my beta readers, feedback that is critical and oh so appreciated. For example, without Melanie, I would not have realized that my male protagonist’s hair “curled around the tips of his ears” no less than three times. Maybe I should just give him a haircut and be done with it!
Revising is, I’ve discovered, much more painful and more deserving of sweet libations than just plunking the words down on the paper to begin with. But it’s a good kind of pain, like the way your muscles ache after an intense workout. (I wouldn’t know that firsthand, but I’ve heard…) And revising means you’ve achieved something; you have to have written in order to revise, and that’s no small accomplishment.
So please excuse me while I crack open this Flying Dog Dogtoberfest Marzen. I’ve got a chapter to rewrite.