Sunday, November 16, 2008

NaNoWriMo Update: 50,000 words are in sight

November moved into its second half this weekend. This means that the 125,000 or so participants in this year’s National Novel Writing Month project need to be very close to the 25,000 word mark in their manuscripts to have a realistic chance of hitting the 50,000 word target by the close of November.

I am in good shape in this respect. As of this evening, my word count has topped 31,700 words, so in my mind the countdown is on. I am reaching the home stretch, and my personal goal of reaching the 50,000 word mark by Thanksgiving eve (a week from this Wednesday) is in sight. To pull that off, I need to add about 18,300 words (or more). Given that there are ten days left in which to reach this target, I would need to average about 1,830 words a day. Given that I have been averaging a little over 2,000 words a day since I started on November 2, this is eminently doable.

So now it becomes pertinant to reflect on what I have learned or discovered during the course of this year’s project. Actually, plenty. First, I have confirmed for myself that I am, in fact, a writer. Even NaNoWriMo veterans make that observation. If a participant finds the challenge to be fun, and, perhaps, not that hard, then odds are that participant is a writer. To me, once I hit my stride last week, I found the pace to be rather easy. For example, to write 50,000 words in exactly 30 days, a pace of 1,700 words (or a little less) a day is needed. Last week, on successive evenings I wrote about 7,100 words combined, and did not feel stressed by that pace.

One question that came up on one of the website’s forum boards concerns the use (or non use) of outlines. I noticed that virtually all of the participants who added relies don’t use outlines, for one reason or another. I approached this manuscript much like I have launched term papers in school: when it came to the actual writing, I simply jumped in and started writing. I find written outlines to be a distraction so I disdain their use. With this manuscript, writing without an outline has given the writing the flexibility to unfold as it chooses. While this might sound like a chaotic situation (and a couple of times it felt that way), actually out of that essentially free-form writing style I have gained a number of fresh perspectives and insights that will be immensely useful for me.

This year’s manuscript is a fictionalized transsexual autobiography with a wrinkle. When finished, my current intention is to use the autobiography as a backdrop for an investigation into possible biological and social antecedents of transsexual identity formation, with an examination of the "absent father figure" as a contributing factor. In parallel with this, I am planning on exploring the interplay between family emotional dysfunctionality and transsexual identity formation. I am getting a sense that inter-generational transmission of emotional memories (parent to child, possibly even grandparent to grandchild) is emerging as an issue to be examined.

In other words, once the 50,000 word mark has been surpassed, and has been confirmed by the website servers, which will add my name to the list of this year’s winners, a fairly significant amount of additional research will need to be done as well as the editing (and additional writing) process. Yes, this does sound like a mountain of work still to be done before this manuscript will reach the point of publish ability. So the question is: have I set a target deadline for completion of this project? Yes: October 31, 2009, so I can step back, take a breath, load up on caffeine, and, a few seconds into November 2009, begin writing next year’s NaNoWriMo winning manuscript.

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