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Sunday, November 7, 2010

13,400 words and counting?


Reporting in:  with 7 days down and 13,400 words submitted to the NaNoWriMo challenge.  

Just 36,600 words to go to reach the finish line.

I’ve been dutiful enough, getting up between 4 and 5 am every morning to slog through the daily quota, throwing down words as fast as I can.  But my word, what's “written” has nothing to do with a novel.  All I've got are the notes, bits and pieces, a few directions for scenes, some suggestions for characters, lots of questions begging for fact-finding and research, and plenty of running commentary to fill in the blank spaces.  And therein hangs the tale. Blank spaces.  

 My story is the story not being told.   The process has been at best. . . instructive, a rude awakening.  Writing fiction is a relentless pursuit, a discipline clearly out of my comfort zone.  

Am I having fun?  I can’t say.  What I have so far I wouldn’t give to a dog to read.  

So why keep going?  What’s there to prove?  Well, first of all, a 13,400-word foray into a novel is not enough to call off the game.   I imagine, or try to , that  there’s something to be learned in the next 36,600 words. Yes? Maybe?  

Over the past week, I have grappled with the question: what makes my story worth anyone's attention? And what keeps me here at the keyboard, hour upon hour, struggling word by word to write?              

Think about it.

I suppose we read novels to do what our incredible human brain does best: to explore realms we can’t physically reach, to visit worlds we can’t otherwise know, to time travel on a magic carpet we call a page.  

What distinguishes us (or so we think) from all other living creatures on this earth, is our enormous cortex – and that remarkable function of the human brain which allows us to see and feel and hear and put into context things that aren’t there. We can imagine the consequences of stepping off a cliff, for instance, without actually doing it. We can slay dragons, win epic battles, leap tall buildings, solve murder mysteries or save the world – without leaving an armchair, thanks to our capacity for imagination. And so we love stories and especially value those who have the gift of telling stories well.

 I have a story in mind.  Whether I can tell it well . . . well, it will take far more work than slapping it down in the next three weeks during NaNoWhaMoSlam.  But what the hey, 50,000 words may very well serve . . . as  the start.  

Will keep you posted. 

And thanks for dropping by. 

Photo by Michael Connors, the founder of MorgueFile

1 comment:

  1. Good for you, Viv! I'm still nurturing my lousy 3200 words. Letting them rest or something. But reading you about writing has buoyed me up. I'm going to go blog the blog for a bit and then we'll see. Keep up the amazing work.

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