This Is How It Works

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Image credit: Flickr :: stillframe

I finished my NaNoWriMo book last night.

Well, I finished the 50,000 word bit. There’s still lots of writing left to do, or undo in this particular case.

I’m lucky to have a job that keeps me really busy in December otherwise I might slip into the all-to-familiar realm of post-novel depression. As it is, I’m just relieved to have the damn thing behind me.

This year, the going was especially rough. The One Name kept me going for a long time, but not even that could help me when the story failed… when the plot became so thin and contrived that I felt compelled to burn an extra 2,000 words writing an apology to myself for coming up with the idea in the first place.

Oh, the story is fine, as a story. As a book, well, maybe it just isn’t a large enough canvas or perhaps I’m not that sort of painter…

Bla, bla, bla…

You might be feeling the same way right now. Even if you didn’t participate in the madness of NaNoWriMo, perhaps you have a work in progress that is flagging, a flaccid photocopy of a brilliant idea reduced to rubble by your ineffectual skills as a novelist…

This is how it works.

Every story starts out like this. Even a book like Kip Frazier, which is taking me forever and a day to write, started out this way. Kip didn’t even come along until I’d written the the first story from five different vantage points. Kip didn’t even come along until I was deep, deep, deep into my worrying about the viability of the concept behind the story.

Don’t beat yourself up. Or if you do, don’t do it for very long. Make it quick and get it out of your system.

I finished this year in a blaze of wordcount. I got behind and I had to make up ground fast. At times, I was writing so fast I really have no idea what I was writing. I knew that the characters were there, but at times they changed. Sometimes they were younger, sometimes older. Sometimes they changed races. Whatever I needed to keep pushing forward at a crushing pace.

The last push was a monster of over 5,000 words. At the start of the month, a 5,000 word may not seem like much, but at the end of the project it’s like removing your eye with a pair of tweezers.

When I finally uploaded my text for verification, I stared at the screen for a few minutes. I thought that perhaps I’d never write again. That this was it. It was too much.

And then, something new came knocking…

The vampire lived at Number 7, a tidy brownstone with a little wrought iron fence running along the front. I stood at the fence. I was a little wary, but I’d been invited for tea and it would be so very rude to decline.

This is how it works.

You write and then you write some more. After you think you’re done, you write some more. Even when you think you’ve got nothing, you write some more. Even when you’re not writing, you’re writing. The stories come whether you want them to or not. They are insistent. They are demanding…

and it would be so very rude to decline.

That last line implies violence and that’s exactly what you’re in for if you decline.

Stories eat at your mind until you shut them away, and then they eat at your heart. Eventually, if you continue to ignore them, they force their way out or grow still and heavy in your soul. They crush you.

A story can kill you if you refuse to write it.

This is how it works.

You are a writer and it is your job to write. Get used to the pain and get back to the keyboard.

8 thoughts on “This Is How It Works

  1. Great way to explain the drive to write! Congratulations on finishing your NanoNovel, the intro sentences to your next story are wonderful!

  2. CONGRATULATIONS!!!

    Nano is a monster and it is so fabulous to read as, one by one, participants conquer the beast. Don’t forget, in the moment between those 50,000 words and the next to congratulate and reward yourself for having done so well.

    There is something sinister about the “nearly the end” of such a lengthy project. Right now, I feel like I’m inside a bubble, pushing at invisible walls that won’t burst. Just over 60,000 words I have less than 20,000 to reach “The End”. It’s The Wall. We stand across from it, gazing up at the sheer wonder of our ideas and suddenly realize that we’re only human. We discover that there is a gaping hole between our original idea and what we have written so far. The itch to start editing kicks in and we wonder if it really would make sense to fix the beginning BEFORE we write that last 25% After all, if the rest is better, we’ll write an even better ending, who knows what tweaks our edit will make that will alter the outcome.

    *shudders* It is too easy to talk myself out of writing. But I remind myself that I am the ONLY person who can write this book. It may never appear on the page the way it does within me but it would never appear within anyone else the way it does to me either. The story, these characters, deserves to be told, even if imperfectly, because it would be heartbreaking to think I was the only one who ever had the opportunity to experience the wonder.

    And so, we push on, word by word.

    Congratulations on pushing through your wall. Enjoy the moment, and then write the next word. :-)
    .-= Rebecca Laffar-Smith´s last blog ..Fueling Your Body, Filling Your Page =-.

  3. What an excellent post! Congratulations on hitting 50K. I didn’t get anywhere near that, and I’m okay with it…just gotta keep pressing on. I just wanted to say thank you for this post.
    .-= deb´s last blog ..SO cool… =-.

  4. Congrats on making your goal, mate!

    And try to to go through both the post-novel and retail post-holiday depressions at the same time!

  5. Congrats on your 50K! I finished my 50K in November as well, but have been feeling the guilt knowing that I still have at least 40K more to get to “The End” so I can begin hack and slash editing it into something workable. Dreading it.

    One chapter at a time!
    .-= tekchic´s last blog ..How Big Are Your Dreams? =-.

  6. For the me the 50,000 during November is the easy part. The rest is the hard part. The part where I want to write, but there is nothing pushing me to do it. I need Nano all year long!

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