Forsooth, tis November already, which means NaNoWriMo must be in full flow. An update, then, on my progress.
Thus far I have been writing every day and maintaining a pretty decent word count without actually knowing what I want the book to be. Although this makes my lovely stats page look pretty, overall I’m not sure whether this is a good thing or not.
Many of my fellow Wrimos have been tweeting fairly consistently to detail their struggle to reach the daily word count, and I am beginning to find this a bit worrying.
I’ve been finding it pretty easy to get the 1,667 words a day, which is odd in itself – I know it’s early days, but I haven’t been this much on target to reach 50k since February. But given I have no real plan and I just blithely type away – at times without really thinking about what I’m writing at all – am I taking the advice a bit too literally? Will I wind up with an entire 50k file that is totally useless? Am I writing just for the sake of writing, and isn’t that a wee bit counterproductive?
What I’m saying is, should I take a leaf out of the book of those 99.9% of folk agonising over what to put down, or should I attribute my lack of concern to the fact that I’ve written so much this year I’ve broken through all the barriers that might cause me to worry before I write? At this point I am very much looking to the editing stage as the point where I have to start stressing out (12 books! People want to read some! Editing them all might take years! Oh crap!) and I find myself being… not intolerant, exactly, but perhaps not that sympathetic to folk who can’t seem to get anything done. I want to tell them to buck up, to say “of course you can do it, just start! Put down ‘once upon a time’ or ‘it was a dark night’ and then let it flow!” as if people don’t have all sorts of different styles and hangups to contend with… Fortunately I have mostly been able to internalise this because I recognise it may be unreasonable.
For my part I’ve got about 6k that might be usable (hard to say at this early stage, I’m too close) and 1k of definitive crap (a bit of half arsed plotting and stream of consciousness that came out when I decided to have a look at Write or Die– which is a website/app that enables you to set yourself a word count target then bullies you into reaching it in a set amount of time).
The plot is thin at this point: a disparate group of poets meet at an open mic night and the story unfolds around them, exploring their various issues and the ways their lives overlap. I went with this because I thought the focus on poetry would encourage me to think in a more literary way, but already I’m leaning towards blatant silliness. I can’t help myself; it might be a medical problem*.
My favourite character, currently named Ronnie, is a disillusioned bloke stuck in a fairly dull job in middle management. His character has elements of Pooter from Diary of a Nobody and possibly David Brent (although I’ve never seen a whole episode of The Office so I’m not sure if that’s an accurate comparison), he is terminally uncool, and he started writing poetry when his wife left him. At the moment he’s shaping up to be quite a sad case, but on the plus side he has invented a new form of poetry and is monumentally pleased with himself about it.
Said genre is the ‘hate sonnet’, and I will leave you with Ronnie’s very first attempt.
(With Apologies to Shakespeare)
Shall I compare thee to a Winter’s day?
Thou art more hateful and more desolate…
Fierce gales shake foilage** from each tree,
Our respite from the cold, so far unset.
Sometimes the icy diamond snow doth shine,
Its beauty makes my anger dimmer;
But then your eyes and face come to my mind:
I want to maul them with my strimmer.
Yes, thy eternal Winter shall not fade
Nor lose possession of my battered soul;
A haunted tree, forever I am in your shade,
Your presence takes a bitter toll:
So long as men can breathe, and women hurt us,
So shall we stand alone, weeping tears of blood and pus
*To be honest I don’t know why I thought poetry would make me be serious – the first poem I had published was about being a chocolate cake.
**he pronounces ‘foliage’ as ‘foilage’ – not because it scans better, particularly, but in reference to The Simpsons. This is kind of what I mean when I refer to my inability to remain in a literary frame of mind…