Ugh. I’m rebelling for NaNoWriMo this year, and I’m even doing that half-assed. I’m revising an existing #shittyfirstdraft and rewriting the mystery to the tune of 50,000 words. Is that half-assing or double-assing? It feels like twice the work. After digging into the first three chapters for eight or nine hours yesterday, my new-word count was a whopping 275. But the first act needs the love and attention like you wouldn’t believe.
I borrowed a comment from a beta reader who imagined a missed opportunity in the second chapter, and used it to reinvent a sort-of blah and pointless character, and give him deeper presence throughout the book. Doing this introduced a rather sinister spin to his relationship to the main character and the victim that will pay off in this book and the next. And maybe the next, because he’s the right age to have been affected by the cold case in book three. It’s just so juicy, I can’t be mad at only logging 275 words in a day.
Also, this is one of the reasons writers get addicted to writing. When we step back and look at the magic we just made with a keyboard and our little gray cells, it’s like a drug. The struggle is real, but so is the euphoria. I’m so excited about weaving this guy and his agenda through the story, I can’t hardly contain myself!
There’s a lot of maudlin crap going on in my writer psyche as well—lots and lots of nasty little downers in a box of reality I hide in my brain, waiting for me and my big, clumsy self-loathing to come along and nudge the lid off.
“What? Only 275 words. What kind of loser pulls together a community of writers to cheer for, pushing and coercing into meeting their goals every day – no excuses! – but can’t get it together to write the bare minimum 1,667 words on the very first day?!? You’re not even a basic bitch; you’re a fraud bitch.”
Oh, but that character! Oh, he’s so delicious. He’s making things tricky and exciting all over again, and giving the story gusto early on. Just by lingering in one place for one minute in chapter two, he reinforces the victim’s bravado and triggers fear and tension in the main character, and then disappears, leaving them to manage their conflict in an awkwardly public way. Their fight draws the attention and emotional investment of another major character—something I have been trying to force for six months! This new situation feels natural and glorious. I have no idea how many words I replaced in those chapters, but I do know the 275 new words represent something magical; I’m only a loser on the goal-tracking spreadsheet.
Today, I penned 2,227 new words revolving around the major character and what he’s going to do about this new-found emotional investment. I have an hour left to scratch out another 832 to catch up to where I “should” be at the end of Day 2 of NaNoWriMo. This shit ain’t easy, but it’s sure as hell an addicting experience.