The first week of NaNoWriMo has passed. Read my previous blog to see how I’m doing things a little differently. In a nutshell, I’m not trying to write a novel, because I was already well into writing my prison memoir Rebel Hell: Doin’ Time For Barely a Crime when November began. So my goal was to write at least a novel’s worth of words on the memoir this month (50,000 words). And so far it looks like I’m on track!!
I started the month with 96,000 words written. I’m now at about 112,000, meaning 16,000 words written in 8 days. 2k/day on average, which puts me well on my way to accomplishing my personal challenge. I’m also very pleased with what I’ve been writing. This is by far my most experimental book; I’m trying to craft a Januscript that, in the reading of it, makes the reader feel like they’re actually feel certain elements of the prison experience. Mainly the way it creates in the Inmate’s mind a certain sense of the malleability of time. So I’m using footnotes and flashbacks and flip-flopping chronology and dreams to try to mirror those sensations for the reader, and I’m pretty pleased so far with how I’m doing—especially since it’s just a first draft and I’m writing fiendishly! It also happens to be (I think) very, very funny. Funny in pitch dark, irreverent, grotesque, heart-wrenching ways. Which is exactly what I’m going for!
I tend to heavily overwrite on my first drafts; I’m not always sure what I want to say, or what I want to happen. So I kind of “doodle” my way toward the (soy-) meat of the scenes and the socio-political themes. Then, in the second draft, I edit heavily, with the aim of cutting at least 20 percent or so. Couple examples: The first draft of my (rewritten) first novel High Society was about 355 pages, and now it’s at 285 (24.5% cut). The first draft of my third novel Redwood Falls was 460 pages, and now it’s 365 (26% cut). Of course it would be nice if I could just write it the “correct” length the first time around, but that’s just not how it pans out with my writing style and abilities. And hey—all that extra writing, and hence editing, that I have to do because I have what Stephen King calls “diarrhea of the word processor”—it just means I get more practice. And even though I’ve been writing novels for 11 years now, there’s always room for improvement!
Happy NaNoWriMo, and good luck for Week 2!