Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

The Plot Thickens and Congeals. Pretty Soon You Can’t Even Stir It With a Spoon. Then a Bigger Plot Comes Along and Kicks It.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret: writing a novel is hard.

Three days into NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I have discovered that aiming for 1,667 words a day produces about 1,000 words of total crap. And that is very difficult for a self editing perfectionist like me to bear. There’s no time to research, reflect, or craft sparkling prose. You just slap words down on the page and resolve to deal with them later.

Adding insult to injury, my plot is mocking me. The characters that were so vibrant and lovable while still in my head are acting like a pack of cardboard cutouts, and dumb ones at that. Also, just between you and me, I’m not sure how to fill up the pages of space between the time our heroine arrives at the plantation with her monkeys and when she’s finally taken back up into the spaceship. (Note: This is not my real plot line, but a foil to keep plagiarists from stealing my work. I’m writing the spaceship/monkey/plantation novel using a secret alphabet, which, when transposed, will reveal the true, Pulitzer Prize worthy piece of badass fiction. Could this be why the going is so slow?)

To make matters worse, when I announced that I would be doing NaNoWriMo, my husband up and decided he would also go ahead and write that novel that’s been burning him up for years. On the first evening of NaNoWriMoRama, I was in the family room, pecking away at my laptop. I had been working for two hours and had a walloping 600 words when the P-Dawg came in and sat down on the couch opposite me. He stretched, cracked his knuckles, rolled up his sleeves and started typing.

The P-Dawg typed loudly and without ceasing for forty-five minutes straight. It was enough to drive a person with no ideas and a sporadic typing speed of ten words per minute using a secret alphabet certifiably insane.  At the end of those forty-five minutes, my husband set his laptop down and announced that he had written ONE THOUSAND WORDS.

“Did you write one thousand different words?” I wanted to know.

With much coaxing and wheedling, and after promising him a sneak peek at my own efforts in exchange, the P-Dawg agreed to let me read what he had so far.

It wasn’t half bad. He hadn’t bothered to swap his own name out for that of the protagonist (a brilliant Cleveland-based physician), but his main character was quite likable and the plot moved along quickly, unlike mine which was having a smoke out back.

“You think this is good? Just wait ’till they turn it into a movie,” my amazing husband said.

My only solace is the fact that the P-Dawg counted his plot summary and character descriptions toward his 1,000 words and is in dire need of a spell checker. But he is so confident in his progress that yesterday he decided to take a few days off from novel writing and pick up where he left off next week. Right now he’s eating popcorn and playing poker online.

At least once he’s churned out a couple of bestsellers, I can afford to hire a ghostwriter to write my novel for me. Or maybe I’ll just ask the P-Dawg.

Note: Despite my hemming and hawing, I am really glad I signed up for this. Because though masochistic, writing a novel is also exhilirating and I know there is no way I would have attempted one if not for this.  Also, I can’t give up because I already broadcast my intentions to my family, Facebook friends, and the Internet at large.

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