“What, oh what, Camylleon, have you done?” You may very well ask, given such a cryptic title.
Welllllll…I’ve gone and signed up for NaNoWriMo. Yeah, I know I’m crazy.
I just signed up to write a book in a month when I haven’t even finished the first one yet. That doesn’t make any sense at all, now does it?
I’ve been arguing with myself (as I tend to do) for quite some time about this. Two years ago, I thought about it. But I’d already started the first book. Last year I thought about it, but the one I was working on was too far along. In fact, it was well past the number of words necessary and already in the editing stage.
So I’m staring down the barrel of next year’s contest. Maybe because I woke up this morning and it wasn’t even 60 degrees for a change and it’s gotten me thinking about fall. And about commitments and postponing things. It’s got me thinking about the first book and how I haven’t even touched it for weeks because I’m at an impasse I just can’t seem to get around. I don’t know.
There’s a big old part of my brain that thinks it’s stupid to start NaNoWriMo until I’m finished with the first one. After all, how do I know what’s going to happen in the next one until the first one’s finished, right? I do have some other ideas I could pursue…other topics altogether and even some parallel ideas that would happen at the same time to a different group of people. Good ideas, but still…this series is what I think about the most. Constantly.
So there’s another part of my brain (not necessarily the wiser) that’s driving me to do this. Because, after all, one thing that drives me absolutely NUTS in serial fiction is when there’s no foreshadowing. It’s blatantly obvious that the author didn’t know what they were going to do, how they were going to keep the series going, when they wrote the first book(s).
Harry Potter is a great example of this. I adore the books and the movies…but the last 3-4 books seem completely disconnected to the first 2-3, because of a lack of foreshadowing. There’s no hint–at all–of horcruxes or the Deathly Hallows. I find it difficult to believe they would have been unknown or unrevealed before they just sort of fell out of the sky. The thing is, JK Rowling hadn’t thought of it yet. And that happens…and I manage to suspend my disbelief…but it does naggle the back of my head something fierce.
Here’s my thought…if I begin the second book as I’m editing the first, I have a good chance of making sure they’re streamlined. It gives me an opportunity to exercise some incredible foreshadowing, and drop hints about minor characters in book one who play a more significant role in book two.
I’m currently stumped in Book One, and it’s all my own fault. I grossly underestimated the number of words necessarily for a work of adult fiction. GROSSLY. By…oh 30,000 words or so. Which is fine. I know I can relax now, and under normal circumstances this would have been fan-fucking-tastic news. I’d have been able to describe more, get into more, add scenes in that I thought I had no room for…and, in general, make the back half of the book into the book I had dreamed…
Wait for it…wait for it…
BUT (there it is folks!) I realized that I needed an incredible climax. So I shoved one in where I thought it should be, and edited the bejeezus out of the manuscript to make it work. And it did. BUT (there it is again!) the new climax doesn’t work with the old dreams. It works with the new dreams just fine…
SO I can either keep on’ truckin’ on and pretty up the back half of the book as is OR I can tear the last half of the book apart, start over, and make it into what I had thought it would be.
Decisions, decisions, decisions…
In the meantime, as I sort that whole mess out, I have an opportunity to start Book Two. Which I already have planned for, by the way, because all the best stories are told in trilogies. (Okay, sometimes four-and five-part trilogies, but still…) I had already worked out a very basic skeleton of what the next book will be about…and am chewing daily on what to do in the “last” book. (Last isn’t really the right word. I’m creating a world here. After all that work, I expect to play about in it for a while. Just maybe not with these people and this particular plot line.)
My thoughts then, as screwy as this sounds, is that by starting Book Two I might even be able to sort out some of the mess I have in the last half of Book One.
Yeah, maybe I am nuts. Maybe I’ll end up just confusing myself more and tossing it all out. Wouldn’t be the first time. I’ve tried two other times before to write a novel. The first one, in High School, involved time travel. BAD IDEA. I managed to confuse the hell outta myself. I don’t recommend that topic to amateurs or to people who haven’t watched a metric ton of Doctor Who episodes to get the feel for it (one word: PARADOX!). The second one…well, I started right after the first one when I was, more-or-less, still a teenager with a teenager’s brain. I had some momentous life-changes while I was in the process of writing it and…well, let’s just say that the part I wrote first didn’t match the part I wrote second. So despite the fact that I finished it…I threw it out. Stupid? Maybe. I might have been able to save it. At the time though, some of those life changes had left me with precious little self-esteem and I really didn’t think it was worth it.
You live, you learn.
Whether it’s a smart decision or no, I’m going to give it my all. I wrote 60,000 words in six months only working one day a week on Book One, and frankly not working all that long that one day. So I figure if I can up the stakes a bit and work on Book Two every day, I can do this. I have a brief outline in my head that I’m going to try to get down on cyber-paper which will make things much easier once I start. And there will be no stopping to edit on this one. Not unless I’m WELL ahead of the game. Like 20,000 words ahead or something. Which isn’t likely, let’s face it. I can edit AFTERWARDS. It will take all my restraint…I love to pick at my writing, and can’t seem to control that much. But I can do this, right?
I will do this.