The One Name

My Patron Saint? Probably.

NaNoWriMo is coming…

In just a few days, thousands of passionate writers will start down the path to writing a novel in 30 days. The goal is 50,000 words. Most will falter around 10,000 (or less). The reason?

With Passion, anyone can write 10,000 words… Anyone. To get past the 20% mark, you need something else.

Some people fall back on organization: outlines, meticulous planning, character sheets, etc. They spend hours thinking about the structure of their stories, running mental what-if scenarios. I know this because I’ve done it too, and for sheer volume it does wonders. On occasion, it even helps finish books.

That said, I’m going to tell you my secret. My secret is obsession. Obsession is how I get things done.

How Obsession Worked Last Year

While working on Kip Frazier last year, my passion wavered around 20K words. I’d been there before, and I knew that some time spent working on structure would get me energized again. So I set about doing what I might have done at the beginning, which is to plan and outline.

It didn’t help.

The more I planned, the more I hated what the story was becoming. The more I outlined, the more trite and predictable things became. The more structured I tried to make the story, the more Kip complained.

“Quit yer nibbin’, Mister Writer!” Kip said.

Eventually, he just took over.

“Listen,” Kip said. “Nobody’s payin’ you to look pretty or be clever! They’re paying to see what I’m gonna do. You just scribble down what I tell you and it’ll come along just fine.”

And he was right of course. Kip is always right. So, I listened to Kip instead of trying to tell him what to do and the rest of the 50K came off without a hitch. I’ve since gone on to add another 50K to the stack and there’s more to come.

You might think that Kip Frazier should’ve been done a long time ago, but this is a project that will take years to complete. Years because I’m obsessed with getting it just right. Obsessed with keeping my nose out of Kip’s business and just letting him do the work.

Am I Obsessed This Year?

This year’s story is one I just couldn’t get out of my head. In fact, I was so passionate about it, I wrote a short story (which has not appeared anywhere yet). I just couldn’t let the idea go.

But passion is only going to get me 10,000 words, maybe 20K. I need to be obsessed. Am I obsessed?

I was worried about this. In fact, last Saturday I wrote a post questioning the entire premise for my planned NaNoWriMo novel. That post is still sitting on my computer, a dead thing that withered away before it could be finished. It was a half-hearted attempt by my inner critic to try and silence the work before it even got started, but it didn’t work. I’m still thinking about that story.

Thursday night I woke up at 3:38AM. Wide awake. My head was clear but my thoughts were buzzing. I could have solved any equation put before me, crunched massive data sets in an instant. Hell, I was so plugged in I might have gone on to write a full page of text without a single typo.

But out of all that might have happened, one thing slammed into my brain: a name.

The One Name

You see, when I was working on the story version of this tale, I had an idea. The idea fueled the passion to create a fun and exciting bit of action. It helped knock out a few laughs and some quirky dialogue. However, it wasn’t going to get a novel written. I knew that. I needed something I just couldn’t lay hands on, not even when I was working on the story.

If I go back and look at my notes, I see no less than a dozen names scribbled in the margins but not one is right. Not one name is the One Name.

Then Thursday, when I was sound asleep the middle of a chilly October night, the One Name came and pushed me out of my sleep. It stood me up against the wall and slapped me across the face.

I’m awake of course and terrified. I feel like I’ll never sleep again, which is both exhilarating and nauseating.

The One Name is nose to nose with me in the dark. It brushes against my cheek and teases my ear with a slow intake of breath. I know what is coming. I know the One Name is going to reveal itself and tell me what I thought I might have lost. I know that I’m about to receive the gift of Obsession and that once I have it there will be no stopping the story.

And then I have it. And it is perfect. And I feel myself go limp and spiral back down to the bed where I find myself lost to sleep.

Yeah, I’m ready. Obsession will not be an issue. 🙂

Do you have plans for NaNoWriMo this year? Are you going to write from passion? Obsession? Organization? Are you waking up in the middle of the night? Are you ready? Are you afraid? Is the answer to all of these questions “yes”?

15 thoughts on “The One Name

  1. You make obsession sound so compelling Jamie. Your post reeks of it… obsession, passion, belief, conviction, and deliciously chomp-worthy stubbornness.

    If NaNoWriMo does this to everyone, we need it to somehow develop the airborne wings of a pandemic.
    .-= Rosa Say´s last blog ..Hibernation 2009 #FridayFlash =-.

  2. You know, I haven’t obsessed about NaNoWriMo nearly as much as I had originally thought I would. I guess it’s because it’s a story I’ve been bouncing around in my head for a long time, so I already have a good deal of the plot and character development flushed out in my mind. I still have a long way to go, but I’m closer to where I need to be than I would be if I had started a story idea from complete scratch. So I guess I’m more along the lines of organization right now, but I’m going to depend on my passion / obsession to get me through the month. 🙂

    And yes, I’m scared. haha It’s my first NaNoWriMo, so it’s a new experience. We’ll see how it all turns out!
    .-= Stef´s last blog ..“Show Me the Money” =-.

  3. Have to say I’m adoring your blog, which I just discovered today. I’m nowhere near as ‘writer’ or as old (probably), but when I read your blog I definatly experience an urge to become more ‘writer’ as I go along. The things you write about, I do not know, but they seem interesting nonetheless. There’s clearly no need for wishing you luck in this competition (limited to Americans only?), so I guess I’ll say: enjoy yourself!
    You got yourself a new reader, that’s for sure…

  4. Yes, yes, yes and yes again … to all those questions. I’m desperate for it to start, and terrified at the same time, like climbing into rollercoaster that goes higher, faster & steeper than any other I’ve been on. The story keeps sneaking up on me when I’m going about my daily business, and my fingers are twitching to start writing it … but I’m holding off for that glorious rush of the 1st November. Bring it on! (Where’s my chocolate?)
    .-= Ellsea´s last blog ..Busy busy busy =-.

  5. @Kevin Oh crap!

    @Rosa 🙂 There is no cure for NaNoWriMo except to write 50K words.

    @Stef Best of luck!!

    @Musilitar NaNoWriMo is for everyone. Drop by and check it out!

    @Ellsea I know exactly what you mean. I was itching to narrate a bit during a long drive this weekend. Thankfully, I had a few podcasts to catch up on.

  6. You, sir, are lucky. I am still waiting for the One Name to reveal itself to me. I’ve tried out several, and none of them fit. It’s quite frustrating. But there are still 11 days left for me to figure it out. And after that, there’s always find & replace. 🙂
    .-= Elizabeth Ditty´s last blog ..FridayFlash: Jack and Jill =-.

  7. Obsession has got to be what motivates most writers, after inspiration flutters on and imagination falters 🙂 I admit that I have been slacking lately but the thought of NaNo gives me a thrill. And the story that has been in my head for years now has to get out one way or another, so bring on the stressful, caffeine-fueled writing camaraderie. I can’t wait!
    .-= janflora´s last blog ..Fiction Friday: Remembering =-.

  8. Obsessed over whether or not you are obsessed enough? Haha! That’s pretty funny 🙂
    Love your posts, please keep writing them! In addition to your real writing, your job, your family, the search for good coffee, etc…

  9. I need to be obsessed. I am definately not organized. I have been working the same novel in Nano for the past two years and I can’t put it down. But then again, I can’t get anything done on it outside of Nano. I am stuck in rewriting from a narrator point of view to the first person. I know this story needs the re-write, but it kills me to have to go thru everything I have already done and make it happen. Gotta get started again in November. The clock is ticking.

  10. Great post! I’m gearing up for NaNo as well. Last year I flew by the seat of my pants, no outline, and still hit 50K. Problem is, I ended up with a boring story arc, an unresolved ending and I dreaded the editing to make it work.

    This year I’m attempting to go into my 2nd NaNo but with an outline. I love my synopsis, and unlike last year, I even have an ending in mind this time! What’s helped is trying to plot out at least 60 “scenes” across the story arc. So far I’m on scene 23, so I have a ways to go before Sunday starts. But I’m hoping it’ll keep me on track since I have an arc, a goal, and scenes this time.

    Best of luck to all you NaNos out there and if you need a buddy to commiserate with, I’m at: 🙂
    .-= tekchic´s last blog ..With eReaders, Format is King =-.

  11. The One Name reminds me of the One Ring … 😉

    I’m doing NaNoWriMo. In past years, I’ve been somewhere between passionate and obsessed … I’ve made the word count, but the stories never came to life. This year, I’m trying organization; I’ve got an outline for the first time.
    Now all I need is a little obsession and I’ll be a well-rounded writer 🙂
    .-= Lindsey´s last blog ..How to Discover America =-.

  12. I’ve been writing by the seat of my pants this year. I had two characters in my head and that’s all. One made it into the novel and I’ve been floundering without my usual planning. 🙁 But I still write.
    .-= Amber´s last blog ..Almost the Ides of November =-.

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