Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NaNoWriMo '13 Journal: Day 1 (err.. Day 5)

Let this month of madness begin! If you don't already know, November is National Novel Writing Month. During this time, authorial hopefuls such as I embark on a grand adventure with the the ups and downs of a drug-induced manic episode. There will be tears. There will be hardship. And hopefully, there will be pants-wetting, joyous celebration when December 1 rolls around and we hold up our finished novels in our ink-stained fingers.

This is my fifth year of doing NaNoWriMo, and I have yet to win. Winning NaNoWriMo consists of finishing a 50,000-word manuscript in 30 days. The only rules are that you don't start writing this story until Nov. 1 and you stop typing on midnight of Nov. 30. This is an endurance race. I've tried to sprint it before, but ended up getting somewhere in the high 20,000s when I lost my steam and just fell apart. But I've also tried the opposite, where I take an hour-and-a-half every day to plunk out 1,667 words, but truthfully, that's even tougher.

So this year, I'm sort of just doing a combination of both techniques. I really, REALLY meant to start strong on Nov. 1 with 1,667 words, but my roommates and I decided to go on a mini-vacation to Columbus, so my noveling start got pushed back a weekend. And then Sunday came along, which was mostly recovering from Friday and Saturday, and then Monday, where I really, REALLY did try to start, but ended up just staring at my notes and shaking my fists at the silent heavens, crying, "Curse you, writers' block!"

Then, I woke up in a pile of sweaty, tear-sodden blankets in my bedroom, the music of my roommate's Skyrim game creeping in beneath my door, and I realized, "Shit! It is Tuesday. It is November 5. I'm running out of time!"'

When my computer hummed to life, I procrastinated a bit by playing some Guild Wars 2, and then getting frustrated at smashing my head against several Group Events wherein it was myself taking on three veterans while my so-called fellow players -- I now suspect that they were just bots-- biffed and boofed around like a pack of fools.

Okay, okay, not everyone might get this paragraph, but I really just needed to vent about a video game.Needless to say, it was a silly waste of my time.

In a way though, this frustration with video games was exactly what I needed to kick my ass into starting this NaNoWriMo thing. But then, I stumbled back onto the same problem I had yesterday. As much prewriting as I had done for this novel, it just didn't feel like the story I wanted to tell.

So, I chucked it.

Yep. I tossed out a plotline and idea that I'd been toying with for about a year. Don't get me wrong, I'm still in love with the idea. The original story was essentially a homecoming story about a group of soldiers trying to fit back into their village after years of campaigning. I'll eventually revisit the idea. It just wasn't the story I wanted to tell at this time.

Instead, I just opened a blank Word document and started with a single line: "It's all deception."

This line evolved into a bit of dialogue between my protagonist and his partner, which then naturally grew into a bit of a flirty, playful back-and-forth that got me connected to my own characters. Immediately, I wanted to tell more about the two of them, their relationship, their motivations, their goal. I was going into this story essentially blind. And now, I'm 2,276 words in.

Sure, I'm still behind. Way behind. But it's a solid start, and while I do have some catching up to do, it's now a story that has some steam behind it, and characters I care about, so hopefully, now I'm just along for the ride.

Oh, and for the curious, here's just a little excerpt from what I wrote today. Granted, about 3/4s of this manuscript will be junked during the revision process, but it'll be nice to have some record of what passages I liked during the drafting process.
Maric’s smile dropped swift at that. He scratched at the beginnings of a black beard on his chin, looking a bit shame-faced. 
“Wouldn’t say it was a high point in my life,” he said, “but I’m glad you found me.” 
Kas’s sword and dagger went into their scabbards, and she walked over beside him and punched him in the shoulder. “A man can’t complain, really, when a pretty girl helps him up, buys him a drink, gives him a roll in the hay, then offers to pay him coin to travel with her?” 
“Gods, Kas, you make me feel like the most beautiful lady at the ball,” Maric replied, the broad smile returning to his face. 
“More like the cheapest whore in a brothel,” she shot back, taking ahold of his prickly chin. “Ugly as sin too. Shave, will you? Hate to show up in Arsuf and have folks asking me why I brought them Salianburg’s famed bearded woman.”
“Whatever you want, Kas,” Maric said with a shrug. “So long as you got the coin, whatever you say, goes.” 
“Only as long as I have the coin?” Kas said, raising an eyebrow. “There’s nothing I can do at all to convince you otherwise?” 
“Well,” Maric crossed his arms, pondering, “We could always work something out.” 
Kas’s grip was strong – it always surprised him: she had so much strength for such a little woman – and, resisting half-heartedly, he was dragged below-deck, past the oarsmen and past the galley’s bemused navigator, who simply gave Maric an understanding pat on the back, and into her cabin. He unlaced his shirt and pulled it off, tossing it over a chair. Her leather dueling gloves shucked, Kas traced her pale, freckled fingers down the scars of his chest, lingering over the puckered crescent reminder of a Daleman’s spear on his left side.

“You know what’s funny?” Maric asked breathlessly when Kas found a moment to stop kissing him and remove her own shirt. 
“I always figured myself in the services trade. Six years I spent across the Northern Realms, fighting for coin. ‘I’ll do whatever you want so long’s I’m paid,’ I’d say,” he continued, wrapping his arms around her waist. “But, Korth’s blood, somehow I never figured I could get paid to fuck.” 
Kas pulled him close so her lips brushed his earlobe. “If it’s any consolation, Grimsang, if you worked in a brothel, I’m sure your clientele wouldn’t have been pretty maids like me.” 
“Oh, so you’re a maid now?” 
She slapped his shoulder and shoved him onto the bed. “Shut up and do your job.” 
Maric shrugged, fingers working on the laces of his trousers. “Gladly.”
Thanks for reading, folks! I'll post an update again next I write.

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