Monday, December 1, 2008

NaNoWriMo Update: I Did It!

The subtitle of this post says it all: in less than thirty days I wrote slightly more than 50,000 words toward my first novel. This is a notable accomplishment, given that I reached that level in 23 days of actual writing. Now that I have ascended to the top of Mount NaNoWriMo, my mind feels lost since I no longer have the deadline driving me forward. Even so, this accomplishment feels really, really nice.

Now comes the challenging intellectual weight lifting: editing and polishing this initial draft into a publishable manuscript before the end of next August so I can have a clear desk come September 1st when I will launch a personal challenge: write at least 50,000 nonfiction words on Transgender Civil Rights within the month of September. That will give my mind one month to sketch out what fiction manuscript (or manuscripts) I will tackle when NaNoWriMo 2009 kicks off next November.

So, some in the reading audience may be rightfully wondering, how hard can it be to edit and polish a work of fiction?

The answer: with this project’s challenging goals yet to be addressed, very. I visualize this novel’s overall structure as a woven tapestry made from warp and woof fibers that meet at right angles throughout the cloth. The novel’s background is a fictionalized transsexual autobiography, with flashbacks to earlier generations as appropriate, that forms the warp fibers. The woof fibers will be composed of insights and information from transgender studies research already completed and additional research as needed to fill in the holes. Where appropriate, the autobiographical elements will illustrate the research supported points contained in the woof threads, thereby adhering to the “show, don’t tell” rule of thumb that, when properly applied, produces readable, gripping fiction that is a joy to read.

Now that I have joined the winner’s circle in my initial NaNoWriMo challenge, what new personal challenges exist for next year? It’s true, I could once again shoot for the 50,000 word goal, or, now that I have shown that I can do it, I can up the degree of expectation I place upon my fingers. There are some writers this year who go well beyond the general 50,000 word mark, and a thread on the NaNoWriMo Shoutouts forum provides a place for word counts above 80,000 words to compare notes and encourage each other. Joining that determined group is my target next year.

I’ll admit that the idea of spinning out that many words in one month on one (or two) manuscripts sounds impossible, yet I can see that it is easily attainable. Consider: an average pace of 2,000 words per day produces 60,000 words in one month. This year I found that writing 3,500 words in an evening is an easy pace. Sustained over 30 days, that pace yields 105,000 words. Thus, by limbering up my creative juices next fall, 75,000 to 80,000 words or more will be easily attainable.

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