But I didn't succeed in the broader sense of "completing a novel". The book I began is about 2/5ths done, I'm guessing. My outline is only vaguely useful; it was only vaguely useful at the start and I opted to replace things or do them out of order without compunction. But I'm through about 20 of the items on the list of 50, so I'm hopeful that means I'm through 40% of it. Which translates to a book longer than I'd like (my target length for a novel ise 80,000 - 100,000 words) but still much closer to the standard range than either of my previous
Overall, the Nano experience was okay, but only okay. It was lacking in other respects, as well. I'd been hoping to re-create the kind of dazed, happy fugues that other intense writing projects had given me, but that didn't really happen. I had some of it in the last week of November, but mostly it was a struggle to keep going. Lut tells me I was grouchy and snappish all month, too. In addition, the primacy Nano gives to word count alone encourages long-windedness, and I'm long-winded enough already. I've taken a quarter of a million words to tell one straightforward story. Telling me "just write more words, it doesn't matter what they are!" is like encouraging an alocholic to go to a bar. No, really, I've had enough, thanks.
I won't swear that I'll never do Nanowrimo again ("You can swear it, Rowyn, honest," Lut tells me. "Really, you can.") but I don't think I will.
However, some good things that did come out of it.
The slog I made of writing Prophecy years ago had left me gunshy over both giving myself deadlines, and over writing with an outline. Working on the NanoNovel allieviated my fears of both. The deadline aspect didn't add any to my enjoyment of working on the subject, but it wasn't a big detractor, either. I don't want to do it again, but I don't feel like I never want to work on the book again, either.
The outline I did, as weird and rough as it was, did give me a good feel for the structure of the novel and helped me decide what happens next and how it will lead to the conclusion. I've started two novels since finishing Silver Scales in August 2006, and with both of them I felt lost, with only a vague notion of where I was going or how I was going to get there. But since I'd only had a vague notion of where I was going with Silver Scales , too, I kept thinking that it shouldn't be a problem. Except that it is. So the upshot is: I'm no longer afraid that doing an outline will suck all the joy and spontaneity out of writing a story. Which means eventually I'll do an outline for Birthright so I can finish that. (I'm not sure if I'll ever do the same for Nightmare Waking. Maybe someday.)
And, of course, I've got 50,000 words written of a novel, which is 50,000 more than I had a month ago. It's almost like I didn't take the whole of 2007 off to play in the most awesome PBEM ever. (Which was easily worth a year anyway. <3 )
For those who've been reading along: I do plan to finish the NanoNovel, albeit at a more relaxed pace. How much more relaxed, I haven't decided. Incidentally, my decision to buy a reclining exercise bike was huge in terms of enabling my success. With the exercise bike, I can do a good workout and get a reasonable amount of writing done at the same time -- around 600-800 words an hour when I was doing the NanoNovel. Since I was going to exercise anyway, it's like getting an extra hour of time in which to write. If I continue to devote this hour to Sign and Sacrifice, I could probably finish the book in three or four months. However, I'm tempted to use it for other things. Like catching up on my correspondence, or posting to the +TB+ list, or starting a PBEM of my own.
But, for now, I am glorying in a break. This weekend, I've had no self-imposed obligations. For the first time in many years, I'm on break from both GMing and from writing. I finished runing Game of October in October and I succeeded at Nanowrimo last month, and the result is a very rare moment in time where I feel almost like I've done enough. I know many of you can relate to that "never enough" sense: there's always something you should be doing if only you weren't being such a slacker and wasting time on friviolities like games, friends, other items on the list of things to do, eating, sleeping, etc.
Just now, I don't have that enormous "I really should be doing ... " feeling. It'll come back. I even miss it, a little. At least, I miss the benefits that come with it, like talking to people about my creative projects and having new work to look back on and take joy in. I have lots of things that I want to start and do, that I've been looking forward to doing for a long time now.
Yet, for a little while, it's nice to look at the free time ahead of me and think "You know, there's nothing I need to get done today. I think I'll take a nap."