Another NaNoWriMo has come and gone and somehow I did it. I wrote 51,311 words in a month, and while that’s an accomplishment I’m having trouble feeling proud of it.
I used this NaNoWriMo to work on a project for a contest that was originally due at the end of January (IT GOT EXTENDED TO MARCH YAY) so that I could really kick my butt into gear and not necessarily think about what I was going to write but do it. I had a vague shape of it in my head and was getting stuck in many aspects, but sure enough once I started doing my word count more ideas came and some old ideas connected with this one in ways I didn’t see happening. So I got my ideas out, the words of it, probably explaining more of it to myself then will ever make sense on the actual page, but it got out there and it actually made me see what I was going to do with this idea that’s been stuck in my head for the past few months.
The problem is, not everything connects.
Or it does, in the palest of ways. The characters and story are connected though many are separated for most of it. I have an idea of what happens to certain characters, where they will be at the beginning and for the most part where they will be by the end, but there are noticeable gaps
I’m starting to notice that when I write it’s usually in gaps. One piece of dialogue here, a description there, and a gap in-between that needs to connect them. It happens when I’m working on scripts for the playwriting unit I’m in, in short stories I write, but most notably during this NaNoWriMo.
Last year, the first year I actually won NaNoWriMo, I forced everything to connect because that was how I thought you wrote a novel. I wrote it in order, beginning to end, connecting whatever I wrote the previous day to what I was writing that day, though it was a struggle and often felt like pulling teeth to put the words on paper. I was happy that I finished last year (it got me 50% off Scrivener, who wouldn’t be happy with that?) but I also realized that I was telling the perspective of the story from the wrong person, in the wrong way. This isn’t a bad thing of course, it was good to realize the mistakes I made, to learn what worked and what didn’t, and I had aspects from what I wrote last year into future writing but I also learned a lot about how I write. Writing chronologically just doesn’t work, I find it difficult to add space into something that is already stitched together, to have to rip it apart and add something bigger to connect them.
And I like my gaps and my snippets, because that’s what works best for me. I’ve started viewing the way I write as making a quilt. I focus on the different patches first, not necessarily knowing which one will be at the top and which at the bottom but knowing all of them will fit in somehow. I work on each patch individually, putting all my care into them and littering them with whatever details they need and once the patches are complete I stitch them all together, finding out which pieces look well together, which don’t, and which ones need to be scraped all together until I make my quilt.
But I’m struggling with accepting the way I write and feeling like it’s wholly wrong, like I wasted my NaNoWriMo because I didn’t actually finish anything, just got a lot of ideas out without finishing it. But part of writing is rewriting and rewriting again, and most importantly learning how to write, and I need to accept that how I write and work may not be the most conventional
And now it’s time to stitch them all together and to create something that hopefully looks beautiful, I know at the very least it will to me.
(Picture from NaNoWriMo winners page.)