Post Camp Nanowrimo 2015

Well, that happened. That was a thing that I did.

And I learned something about myself! I learned that I can, in fact, draft a novel in a month. I would probably have been even more able to draft a longer novel in a month if I hadn’t come down with flu for four days or had to work a day job. Which is moderately terrifying. Of course, the idea of churning out 12 novels in a year is somewhat tempered by the knowledge that no, this novel is in no way shape or form ready for publication, and you do have to sit down and edit the thing before you do publish, and that will take a few months at the very absolute pushing-myself-ridiculously least. But I guess it’s gratifying to know that I can do that? Maybe that puts it at three novels a month, one for each Nanowrimo, and then I can spend the rest of the year editing and putting out dime novels. Certain People are going to kill me for saying that now.

Anyway. So. Nano happened. I wrote a little over 80k, eighty thousand words, which when put together with what I’d already written before I started this, makes almost 100k. A good sized novel. And about a third of that is going out the window already, because it’s filler, it’s me kicking stuff around while I get to know the characters if not the world in and of itself. Insufficient prep! I mean, at this rate by the time I write Long Road for the third? Fourth time? It might even be worth something, or very close to a final draft by the end of it, and on the other hand oh dear god you mean I have to cut 33k of the Demon Hunters draft and write it all over again?

This is what it’s like to be a writer, folks. This is why they say, if you can do anything else, anything at all, and get the same kind of fulfillment, do that instead. You get the elation of having finished a draft followed by the horror and dread of realizing that you have to rewrite huge chunks of it. This is also why, not incidentally, I put off editing until six weeks minimum after I’ve finished a novel draft. Because in the moment of being elated and in despair and over-emotional, I’m likely to cut out the wrong things. Or just scrap the thing entirely when there was a workable novel there.

(I wonder if agencies and editors have the same problem with Camp Nanowrimo as they do with Nanowrimo, given that the focus is more on writing in general and less on writing a novel. After Nanowrimo has become known, as Nano has become more famous, as the month of the killer slushpile. Poor agencies and editors.)

Right now, post Nano, I have a frillion and one projects. It’s almost comical. I’m picking up a dime novel I had mostly drafted and finishing it, I’m finishing up the edits on Sandborn where I’d gotten line edits done and now I have to filter in some scenes I’d only elided before. I’m picking up White Lightning and shaking it out for what needs written and what needs edited. I’m prepping for two more things including my next Camp Nanowrimo novel, and I’m eyeballing another dime novel I was in the middle of that I was trying to get out as quickly as possible, which naturally means that it’s coming along slow as uphill molasses and half of what’s coming out is wrong anyway.

These things I do to keep me busy after Nano, and also to keep my mind in shape for writing. When I go for a week or more without writing, the muscle gets atrophied and the discipline gets tossed out the window, and with every day it gets harder to start again. I may not be able to focus on writing directly, not as much after several days of 5 and 6k per day. But I can do writing related things. I can world-build. I can do edits, I can fill things in, and I can sort through and read over and make notes. Slowly, over time, I can build back up so I’m writing 3 and 4k per day again. As with any muscle, once you give it a hard workout you need to let it rest and rebuild. So too with writing.

And for that matter, I can write down what I’ve learned. Writing, as with most skills, is always a moving target, there is always something you can learn from what you did and improve on the next pass. Editrix spent Nano looking over my shoulder every now and again and pinpointed one of my problems for the third time, which means it’s likely a recurring problem I’ll need to work on for future novels: Get to know the world and the characters before you start writing. In a way, I need to prep by writing fanfic of my unwritten worlds, I need to have the patterns in place before I can start writing decent stuff, so I don’t spend half the time spinning my wheels on the page. So I guess one of the things I’ll be doing to rebuild my writing muscles will be drablets and flash fiction to figure out who the characters for the next Camp Nano novel are. Ah, my life.