Sunday, November 22, 2009

NaNoWriMo Day 22: That's Just Eerie

One of the cool things about participating in NaNoWriMo is the pep talks that you receive via e-mail every now and then. The one I got yesterday was from Kristin Cashore, author of the kids' novels Graceling and Fire.

She writes:

Here's what it starts to be like for me somewhere in the midsection of a novel:

(1) I've written the beginning, but I'm pretty sure it's a pile of crap.

(2) The end, when I even dare to contemplate it, feels as far away as Uranus.

(3) The prose I'm writing right now, here in the middle, sounds like a stiff little busybody who's sat down too hard on a nettle.

(4) I've discovered that my plot, even if it's an engaging plot, has sections that are not engaging to write, and I'm bogged down in those doldrums sections, when all I want is to move on to the exciting parts that are just ahead but I can't, not until I've written the parts that will get me there. Boring!

(5) The house is strewn with post-it notes on which are written about a gazillion important reminders of things I must somehow remember to find a way to weave into the novel at some point, although, where, I can't imagine. Some of the post-it notes are written hastily in a code I have since forgotten. ("He is temperamentally sweet, but dangerous, like Jake." That would be very helpful, if I had the slightest idea to whom "he" refers, or if I knew anyone named Jake.)

(6) Worst of all, whenever I take a step back and try to examine objectively this unstructured mess that is half created and half still living in my head and heart and hope (and on a gazillion post-it notes)... I get this horrible, sinking feeling that my novel isn't actually about anything.

Wow. How validating to read my very feelings written by someone else. (Oh, and she also said that writing 50,000 words requires skills that can be learned, how else? By writing. And that she's never written 50,000 words in less than 8 months.)

Grab a clean apron from the hooks behind you and come on in.”

Hannah enjoyed the morning. She liked to cook, and learning some shortcuts for chopping had been fun. She had never seen a giant number 10 can, much less one filled with more ketchup than her family would eat in a year, and the industrial opener they used to crank the lid off was pretty amazing, too. Jean had calmly overseen all the work, working at her cutting board on the stainless steel table, and directing the six kids in the kitchen...

...Hannah wasn’t sure how to respond. She sensed that something of value was being lost, but she couldn’t say what it was. Miss Jean looked up at the clock on the wall. “Time to get back in the kitchen,” she announced.

Word count: 13884

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