Tuesday, 1 November 2011
Today is the first day of the National Novel Writing Month. The aim is to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. This works out at 1,666 words per day. In theory it sounds fairly easy - about three Word pages, single spaced, per day.
Easy? Sometimes I can agonise over a single sentence for an hour or more - in between munching wine gums, staring into space, playing another game of Pyramid (my excuse being that it's 'thinking time'), checking emails, Facebook and Twitter, writing a blog (just like I'm doing now) and otherwise procrastinating.
The trick, or so I've been told, is to turn off the 'inner editor' and simply write. Revision and editing can come later. That's going to be the hardest part for me, since I edit constantly. I also research as I go along, since that's so much easier to do than it was in pre-internet days. Already I've broken off from writing to research courses in French culture at the Sorbonne in Paris. Then, drawing in a deep breath, I forced myself to bookmark a website so that I can look at it in more detail later.
Usually I'm a pantser, but in this case my NaNo novel is already plotted, as I'm rewriting one of my early novels, published in 1981. Is that cheating? No, not in this case. The novel needs serious updating - technology has changed, for one thing. Mobile phones and email make it easy for the characters to get in contact with each other.
The story is set in a school and they've changed too. Educational issues in the late 70's when I wrote this novel are completely different from school issues today. As a former teacher, I knew what those issues were when I first wrote the story, but I've been out of teaching now for nearly 20 years. Fortunately my daughter is a teacher, so I grilled her last week about current issues, and she came up with one I think I can use.
Quite apart from the background and setting, I'm already cringing at my early style of writing. So much telling instead of showing - ouch! Long, unwieldy sentences, speech tags, far too many adverbs, and, oh dear, exclamation marks galore (my friend Michelle will laugh her socks off at that last statement).
So I'm treating it as a partly pre-planned novel because I know I'm going to have to make a lot of changes as part of the updating process. In fact, it wouldn't surpise me if, at some point, it took off in a different direction than the original story. We shall see ...