Another year, another novel

Today I discovered a recently deceased mole in my dining room.

I don’t know which of my two cats dispatched the little guy and brought him inside. The mole is actually fairly big for a mole, being about three inches long and medium plump. This was not as gruesome a sight as you might think. There was no blood or sign of trauma, and the body was still warm. I might have thought he was just sleeping, but he was well and truly dead.

I was very pleased to discover the dead mole. Oh sure, a little of my happiness was pride toward my intrepid feline hunters, protecting my yard from underground diggers and practicing their hunting skills. But mostly, I was excited to already have an unusual plot point to include in the novel I will be writing next month.

Once again this year I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo to those in the know. Starting November 1, I and thousands of other writers worldwide will commence to writing novels of at least 50,000 words each.

Will they be good novels? It depends what you mean by “good.” Here’s how the NaNoWriMo site explains it:

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

Last year I wrote most of my novel in the final two weeks of November. The extra compressed schedule forced me to drop all inhibitions and write anything, no matter how awful. And make no mistake: I wrote real crap. But it was interesting crap, stuff I’ve never written before. On the final day in particular, in the course of trying not only to reach 50,000 words but also to wrap up the key plot lines in the book and truly conclude the story, I created a new and interesting character and discovered a unique situation for the heroine — stuff that I could create only when I lowered my expectations and took a chance, as my desperation forced me to do.

This year I aim to acheive that rare open kind of writing earlier in the process — maybe even on the first day.

I’ll be posting about the novel-writing process throughout the month. If you’re up for the NaNoWriMo experience too, visit the official website and sign up. Let me know you’re participating, and we’ll egg each other on.

In the meantime, here’s to unexpected discoveries in my dining room, and everywhere.

6 replies on “Another year, another novel”

  1. I’ve been struggling with writing a novel for years, so you go! 50,000 words in 30 days – wow. And now you’re going to draw, manage a business or two, a husband, and blog? Now that’s expert multi-tasking. How do you do it?


  2. Scott, you must do NaNoWriMo! Take a break from your current novel and write a fast novel — I promise it will change the way you approach writing in general, and your current novel in particular.

    As to how I do it: I skipped the husband part. They seem to take a lot of time and energy to manage. ;)

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