When you’re at the beginning of a month, the days seem to stretch out before you like a perfect, verdant valley, rich and lush and full of possibility. The unknown landscape beckons, drawing you in. ‘Look! Here’s a little hidden lake. Isn’t it pretty?’ or ‘I bet you didn’t see this fantastic rock formation coming, did you?’ You’re encouraged to skip and dawdle and tiptoe through the tulips, and all that other time-wasting stuff.
Speaking of time – it feels like you have loads of the stuff, that you’re dripping in it and that, when you need it, there’ll be more – as much as you could ever want.
However, none of this is, in fact, the truth.
I thought, at the beginning of November, that I’d have time to complete NaNoWriMo – all my other commitments taken into consideration. However, yesterday I sat down and did a little scribbled ‘timetable’ for the rest of the month, breaking down the amount of working days I have left and the amount of words I have yet to write.
I realised, in a sort of sudden and painful way, that I don’t have as much time as I thought, and I have a lot more words to do than I realised.
Having said that, I am now up to just over 22,000 words, which is 22,000 more than I had two weeks ago. That’s nothing to sneeze at. However, it also means I have 28,000 more to write before November 30, and I only have twelve days (possibly fewer) during which I am free to write. No matter what way you look at those numbers, they don’t crunch very well.
I really want to finish NaNoWriMo, and to get these 50,000 words written. I like the idea I’m working on very much, though I’ll be the first to admit it needs tightening – edits and rewrites and reshaping all need to be done before I can call it properly finished. I think, though, with a bit of work, this idea could turn into another book which I’ll be able to start querying in the new year. I have discovered a character I love, a little boy who calls himself ‘Thing’ because nobody ever gave him a name, and whose dialogue is effortless to write; he is brave, sparky, independent and dealing with a deep, painful rejection which he hasn’t found himself able to share with anyone just yet. I always knew I’d love Emmeline Widget, the little girl whose life is turned upside down when her parents go missing, and who is determined to find them not because of anything soppy like love or loneliness, but because they belong to her, and nobody else is allowed to take them; Thing, however, was a revelation.
The plot is going in unexpected ways, too. So far, nothing I’d pre-planned has actually ended up happening. I realise it’s early days yet (in terms of the creation of an entire book, if not my NaNoWriMo schedule) but I like this sense of improvisation, and the feeling that the characters are driving the plot. In that sense, doing NaNoWriMo – starting out on a project without any clear ambition to turn it into something, just writing it because you want to – is a brilliantly freeing and creatively fulfilling thing.
Also, several people have let me know that they enjoyed my little excerpt from the book, which I posted last Friday. If you’d like to see a little more – perhaps the chapter where Emmeline and Thing meet for the first time – I’d be happy to post it here. As always, criticism (gently worded!) would be welcome.
Now, it’s back to the coalface for me. Have a great Thursday.
*Math, if you’re American, though the word sounds utterly illogical to me.