November spawned a monster

Or, My NaNoWriMo Hell

The creative processIt was a mad, spur-of-the-moment decision. I hadn’t thought it through. A couple of friends were doing NaNoWriMo – and I thought, what the hell, why not? 50,000 words in a month, 1666 words a day. Sure, I work full-time. Yes, I have three small children. But, really, How Hard Could It Be?

I already had two books on the go – one is about what happens to Patience Wilson, one of the characters in my previous book Constance Breakwater, when she grows up. The other is a mad idea, best described as The History Boys meets An Education via Doctor Who. NaNoWriMo demands a fresh work, though; you can’t import stuff you’ve already written, so I decided to have a crack at an immediate sequel to Constance Breakwater. I was going to knock something off, get it out on the Kindle by Christmas. Easy.

It started well. For the first three days I was either on days off or on late shifts at work and managed to find a couple of hours’ peace and quiet where I could write. I was hitting my targets. My word count graphs looked good. I smiled down with pity on my friends who weren’t quite on schedule to finish their books by the end of November.

Then I unexpectedly had a job interview to prepare for. All writing stopped. I very much wanted, and needed this job. I could not justify spending time writing when I really ought to be revising. Then I had a leaving do to go to: my own. The job interview and saying goodbye to the people and building I’d known for almost 21 years took 5 days out of my writing month. When I looked at the stats, they were grim. I had such a deficit to make up, I’d have to put in a 9,000 word day. NINE THOUSAND of the little fuckers in one, doubtless already packed, day. That simply wasn’t ever going to happen.

I started to hate the book I was trying to write. It was a stupid idea, going nowhere. I closed my NaNoWriMo account, thinking I could set my own, more realistic goals. 50,000 words in 2 months, perhaps. Or 6. Or a year.

Then one sleepless night I decided to abandon writing completely. I have a friend who’s had two novels published, but could not, no matter how many times he tried, get a third book published. Eventually he gave up trying. My own urge to write was, at the time, still so strong that I told him he was mad, but he said the relief when he decided he was no longer a writer was immense. And now I knew, a little bit, how he felt.

My first, short book came relatively easily. It had felt just like typing, admittedly after an awful lot of thinking and plotting in my head. And a lot of walking around Walton-on-the-Naze on my own. But it’s not like that any more. I do want to finish my two other books, but now writing is like banging your head against a brick wall. It’s lovely when you stop.

And I didn’t get the job.

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One Response to November spawned a monster

  1. Frank Bath says:

    I find it difficult to leave the characters I’ve invented, they have been close company for so long they have become part of my life. Not wanting to lose them I try to follow up but alas I have no new adventure to give them. That’s because I am not a writer. Not this year.

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