Excerpt from current NaNoWriMo
I’ve been neglectful, rather, of this lovely lovely blog, but there are good reasons. There always are, aren’t there, when people neglect things. Excuses, excuses and all that. Well, here’s what I’ve been up to:
- Moving to New York City.
- Trying to find a job.
- Failing, miserably.
- Getting into freelance work.
- Don’t ask me what freelance work is, because it’s a ridiculous mishmash of things, most of which involve hustling my butt off to try to find more work.
- Got me a boyf.
- Got me some cats.
- Reconnected with old friends in the city (because that’s what we call NYC here, “the city,” rather like San Franciscans call it “the city” too).
- Got rejected from a bunch of literary places.
- Got accepted to some cool places like McSweeney’s.
- Did NaNoWriMo…
- …and finished the novel I started over a year and a half ago in Oxford.
What does this mean? That hopefully now that I’m not quite noveling, I’ll be back here more often and updating.
So, as promised, here’s my new project – another novel. Sort of.
Last summer, I finished a novel that I’d worked on with Brian Morton, who is an incredible author who teaches at my school. It is extremely first-draft-y. June is going to be my month to write a second draft.
True, it’s not a completely new novel that I’m writing utterly from scratch, and perhaps the men and women at Camp NaNoWriMo would object that I’m not quite following the rules, but honestly? I don’t think they would. Because the point is to write, to work on your writing and commit yourself to it for a month. And gosh darn it, that’s what I’m doing.
I’m currently reading the novel that I wrote. It’s a strange experience. I’ve tried to do it a few times before, but I never could. It made me cringe, or it bored me. But now, now that I am actually in the process of preparing to edit it, I’m able to do it. Or maybe I just needed to wait for nine months to be able to deal with it. Writing a book in a month is possible – but rewriting it takes a bit of cool down time.
There is so much I’m going to change. So much that simply makes no sense to me. I have the characters so firmly set in my mind, and have had them there for the past year and a half, that I can’t understand how I wrote some of what I did. One character, for instance, is painfully shy in my head, but in the novel as it stands, she is an RA at her college. This is absolutely ridiculous – she would never sign up to such a job. True, she’s become less painfully shy than she once was and she has friends, but her retraction from others is still her default state. Why on earth did I make her a bubbly RA in some scenes? Strange, indeed.
I’m excited about this coming month’s project, even though I will also be working, once again, at Hebrew Book Week (third year in a row!) and as a result will be stressed between June 6 and 18 (yes, it’s much longer than a week, I am aware).
Just to be clear – I am still going to complete the 50,000 words in a month part of Camp NaNoWriMo. And I’m so excited about this whole editing business, that I’m going to actually ask you all to sponsor me! The Office of Letters and Light are a wonderful nonprofit that organize NaNoWriMo and thus help more people to overcome their fear of writing, and, even better, they organize writing programs for children in some 2700 schools around the Unites States.
Here’s the link where you can donate, if you’d like. No pressure! You can donate as little or as much as you like, or not at all. If you do, though, and would like to be kept abreast of my writing, let me know! Here’s the link to my fundraising page:
I’ve had an upswing of spam on my blog recently. I even have a couple spam websites subscribed to or following my blog, which feels weird. I don’t think I have enough audience to be spam-worthy, nor do I write about subjects that seem to be particularly relevant to spammers, but I guess that really doesn’t matter.
The thing is, it’s getting on my nerves, because half the time when I get a fun email saying that someone “liked” a post of mine, it ends up being some spam-bot. Which is just kind of sad.
In other news, today, for the first time since NaNoWriMo 2011, I sat down and worked on a story for a while. It felt lovely. I’ve been writing in my blog nearly every day, true, but there’s a huge difference between my experience of putting down a short blog post and working on a story where I lose myself and end up with an hour and five pages behind me.
You know, we can say “to shelve a book” but we can’t say “to drawer a book,” because that’s just silly and grammatically wrong. The reason this seems relevant is because I don’t feel that my NaNoWriMo novel deserves a shelf – it really deserves the depths of a well-lined, jumbled and often-neglected drawer.
I’m not being self-pitying. I know that there are good elements in it. The teacher who leads my writing workshop at school gave me all sorts of compliments – he said that my observations are a lot more mature than my age warrants, that each scene on its own was interesting, engaging and enjoyable, and that I managed to keep my images from becoming clichés. BUT – and I agree entirely – there isn’t enough of a thread leading through the novel. It started as one thing, and ended up as something else entirely.
There are too many narrative voices – two of them I had planned as the main characters, but then two more cropped up during the process of writing. Each of those separate voices could easily take over the novel from the original characters.
Most importantly, there wasn’t a clear, driving force. The two short stories that I wrote for this workshop – and that I’m quite proud of – each had the feeling that there was a deep, emotional connection between the writer and the narrative. I had reasons for writing those stories; unconscious reasons, but their presence was nevertheless present. The novel didn’t have that.
I also feel that unlike my previous three novels, I really didn’t know what I was doing with this one. It was an experiment, more than anything, in writing about people who I didn’t like so much, with whom I had a harder time identifying. I wouldn’t say that the experiment failed, because I feel that the fifty thousand words I wrote are a jumping off point that might lead to two or three entirely separate novels, eventually.
It’s kind of nice to know that I can put this piece of writing away, even though I spent so much time on it, without mourning for it or feeling like I failed. I know how to handle criticism and I seem to be learning how to evaluate my own work. It feels good to be able to do that.
I finished a novel and won NaNoWriMo. I have a hard time believing that it’s actually happened, that I actually managed to do it. True, it’s only fifty-five minutes into December; it might take a while for me to actually feel the fact that I’ve actually finished the first draft of a fourth novel.
I’ve been extremely busy over the past month, obviously. Not only with NaNoWriMo, but also with schoolwork, hanging out with friends, and generally living.
But now November’s finally done, I’m going back to posting every day for the PostADay2011 challenge here on WordPress.
I’m also looking forward to sixteen days from now when I’ll be flying back home. I’m looking forward to this more than I can describe. I’m looking forward to it so much that I haven’t been sleeping properly at night, because I keep picturing myself taking a taxi to Newark airport in New Jersey, going through the endless but familiar stages to get onto the plane, flying for twelve hours, landing in Israel, and getting to hug my mom when I get off the plane and into the arrivals hall. Those images flash across my mind’s eye every night, and keep me awake, my heart pounding with excitement and with the fear that I always have about flying, even though I’ve done it so many times.
The next two weeks aren’t going to be easy. I have a final exam, a long paper, and a bunch of smaller assignments still due before I’m Scott free. But each day brings me closer to the blessed end of my first semester of my sophomore year. It hasn’t been easy. There have been lots of emotional ups and downs. But I have found my place.
Currently, I’m sitting in one of the quiet rooms in the library surrounded by friends – there’s a red-haired woman on my left, typing away on her white MacBook, a blonde on my right who’s reading Facebook posts on her PC laptop, a girl with dyed pink and purple hair sitting across from me who’s leaning over her reading assignment with a pencil and next to her is a skinny black-haired woman who’s crossed her arms and folded her legs and is trying to catch a nap. We’re all here together, in this trench-warfare that is the last three weeks of the semester. It’s good to know I’ve got people on my side.
It’s four days into NaNoWriMo. I’m ahead of the required daily word count. I’ve written some twenty-five pages since November 1. There also happens to be incredibly annoying music coming out of one of the windows in my building. But that’s entirely beside the point.
My nose keeps bleeding because it’s so dry in my room. That’s irrelevant as well.
Okay, so I guess what I’m trying to avoid writing about is this: I’m not really sure whether or not I like the novel I’m writing. I have this issue that spans across almost everything I write: I create characters that I like. Almost without fail, my characters have redeeming qualities and are people that I can relate to. But that can get incredibly boring, and most of the writers I know who take this approach invariably begin churning out repetitive books that have similar voices. One of my favorite writers does this, and I forgive him because I love the style of his writing and his characters as much as he seems to: but I also know that there are probably many readers who he’s alienated this way. This is one thing I’ve developed since taking writing classes – a heightened and more realistic sense of literary criticism.
So this year, for NaNoWriMo, I’m writing about characters who are incredibly different than me. They’re people who I probably wouldn’t like very much if I met them. I have a soft spot for them – of course I do, despite everything – but I don’t particularly like them. Sometimes I get mad at them as I’m writing, because they’re selfish or annoying or mean. It’s an interesting experience, but it’s harder for me to gauge whether what I’m writing is any good or not.
Oh, well. Here’s to another twenty-six days of writing and finding out!