Friday, November 02, 2007

Once upon a time it took me two years to write a novel

And it wasn’t any more perfect upon completion of the first draft than the novel it took me a month and a half to complete last NaNoWriMo.

The novel I slaved over for months and months, painfully typing out words that I would then erase, obsessing over whether it was good enough, staring off into space before commiting to a phrase or sentence, well, it needs just as much revising as the novel I wrote last year for Nano, whipping through the pages in a desperate, terrified,caffeine fueled fire. And they were both equally painful and ecstatic in turns.

This is an interesting realization.

I know that in my slower phases of novel writing, I often worked so hard on getting the right words and perhaps the words were more polished, but those words sometimes took me off track, and because I worshipped them so much, I would let them take me for chapter and chapters, wondering all along what was missing but not being able to put my finger on it. More than once, I had to delete huge sections of my book because they had taken me where I didn’t want the book to go.

I also know that in my quicker phases, I have spent an awful lot of time on planning when I wasn’t writing those words. Much more time planning and ruminating than actually writing, and I think that has a lot to do with why I was able to write a story that was just as coherent as the one that took a couple of years. Nano looks like a shorter process, but it isn’t shorter by much, although I think the external pressure definitely speeds it up.

Another thing that I know is that I am kind of stumped when it comes to revision and rewriting. I have written two complete novels and one play in the first draft, in addition to numerous unfinished first drafts, but have never been able to finish a second draft, beginning to end. Hmm.

Nano is tough, but it’s in and out and over sooner rather than later. Revising? That’s something different. If I may, for me writing a novel during Nano is like childbirth. All the planning that goes before is the gestation, but Nano itself is the labor. And then, I’m afraid the revising and everything that goes into putting out a finished book is like raising a child. That’s where all the really sustained work goes.

I need Supernanny for novels, to help me raise my books.

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