Monday, May 20, 2013

NaNoWriSum: Week One Report

I'm encouraged. at this time last week I had 103 pages. I was pleased just to break triple digits before my grade submission deadline ended the semester.

Today I have 128.

If you count the work I did last weekend, that means I finally hit the 30 pages in one week mark this past week. Huzzah!

While I love teaching and I'm immeasurably glad it was there to give me some variation during those early chapters, I'm pleased the cage match is over for a few months. It's really nice to have some time to focus almost solely on creative writing. I of course still have other things to do than the novel project--I'll be spending at least a day or two per week on writing academic articles, for instance, beyond the fact that I plan to see non-fictional people every so often, get lots of exercise, and do other more usual life stuff like cooking and cleaning and attending farmer's markets.

But I'm beyond thankful that I have a summer to primarily focus on this project. To finish telling my story. To layer in everything that needs to be layered in. To simplify what needs to be simplified. To complicate what needs to be complicated. To get it ready to go out into the world.

Storytelling is such a privilege. The time to do it, and do it well, doesn't happen every day. You are witnesses: I pledge not to take it for granted. Hold me to that, eh? Thanks for your continued support!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

On Transitioning from NaNoWriSpr to NaNoWriSum

So it's been a long time since I updated my blog followers about my progress on my novel-in-a-few-months experiment. From back-to-back academic conferences at the end of March and beginning of April to submitting my grades this past Monday, life has been the usual end of semester blur since my last post.

The good news is that my novel has moved forward tremendously during the blur time, if not quite as much as I'd hoped. Grading always takes more time than one thinks it will, traveling is exhausting, and I've spent this past week sick with a cold/sinus thing.

But at one of the conferences I got to go to a museum related to my topic, picking up some great background info to get deeper into my characters' experiences not only in the museum itself, but also in the attached library. I even picked up a few useful books at the gift shop.

And since the conferences I've done a lot of revising and expanding of the first three chapters in response to feedback from all my wonderful readers this semester. Plus I wrote most of a fourth chapter, and read that to a friend and incorporated that feedback.

By the time the grade submission deadline (this past Monday at 3) signalled the end of the semester, I had officially broken the double-digit barrier by three pages.

It felt so good to be in the triple digits--more than a third of the way through!--that I wrote 6 more today, which brings my current total to 109.

So NaNoWriSpr is officially done, and its successor--NaNoWriSum--has begun. The NaNoWriSpr experiment began as a crazy hope to write a novel in a semester while teaching 2 classes and taking an advanced fiction-writing class as support and encouragement for the NaNoWriSpr experiment. I ended up writing more than a third of one that I feel pretty good about. I know that it's not just an assemblage of pages pushed out as quickly as possible, but a manuscript on its way to being a viable manuscript of a novel. The plot's set up, and I know where it's going, for the most part. We've met most of the characters, and I now know the main ones well enough to generate realistic examples and scenes and dialogue for them on demand. The others are coming into focus, as is the setting and era and surroundings.

My goals for NaNoWriSum are as follows--I want to write this novel to its natural conclusion, revising as I go, by the end of July so I can get full manuscript drafts out to my other reader volunteers by that time.

It might seem like a lot--200 good pages in 2.5 months, when I just barely drafted 103 pages in 4. And yet without the teaching, it should be totally manageable. If I can write 3-4 pages per day (and today I sat down and read through the whole thing again before pounding out 6 new pages), I'll be there.

Congrats to team NaNoWriSpr for a solid start to the relay race! NaNoWriSum should be able to take it from here. Go team finish the novel!