Wow, October flew by fast. Back in September I thought I knew how my fall was going to look. I had a schedule for my NaNo prep, a series of blog posts I wanted to write, a brand new black page notebook (with neon gel pens!) I was saving for my new project.
And then… Well, things changed. I had done a few aborted drafts of my outline of my New NaNo Idea and was starting to spin my wheels. As I mentioned, I’ve always known this was a trunk novel, and yet the perfectionist part of my writer-brain couldn’t let go of the fact that it was a little absurd, all over the place, and probably didn’t have a future. Yes, I wanted to write it, but I wanted it to be good, and it just got to a point where no matter how many times I fiddled with the premise, outline, characters, etc, I just wasn’t getting anywhere.
So I took a few weeks off to get some distance. I had done enough prep work in September that I was sure I wouldn’t fall behind, so it seemed like the smart thing to do. In the middle of the month I took a weekend trip out of town for a wedding and managed to do a lot of reading (well, for me anyway).
As reading is wont to do for the wrung-out writer, it got me thinking. Both books I read were good, but neither were really what I wanted. That’s when I realized that the book I wanted to read was the one I was already writing: my temporarily shelved WIP Border Towns.
Border Towns got sidelined for the second time this year when my mental health took a nosedive in July, but there was something else stopping me from picking it back up when the fog cleared. I knew exactly what it was: my inciting incident felt… well, terrible. Even when I opened up the draft and did my first read through in three months it was still really bad.
Since my new Idea wasn’t coming together, I put all my creative energy into fixing it. It took a lot out of me, honestly. I spent nearly a week trying to figure out why it was so broken. I came up with a number of solutions that I was sure would solve the problem, but nothing ever felt right. Eventually, I just… powered through it. I wrote three new versions and then cobbled them all together into something… maybe okay.
It’s not always going to click. There’s not always going to be a magic solution your muse hands you when conditions are right. Sometimes, reaching the point where you’re okay with what you’ve written is a helluva fight. It was a tough lesson to learn, I’ll say that much. But now that I’m past it, I’m excited for this WIP again. This frustrating, wonderful story that I want to read.
How does this all relate to NaNoWriMo? Well, because in reconnecting with Border Towns I’ve had to accept the fact that I won’t be starting the New Idea tomorrow. In fact, because of the process I’ve adapted for this current draft of editing as I go, I’ve accepted the fact that I probably won’t be winning NaNo like I did last year. I intend to give it the ole college try, of course, but just the last few days has taught me that it’s gonna be tough to get the words down and go back and edit behind me.
I’m kinda bummed, I’m not gonna lie. I really had my heart set on repeating last year’s thrilling (to me anyway) victory. But, I really do think Border Towns, unlike the New Idea, has a chance to be published one day. I’ve already lost so much time, and I know there’s more missed chances in the future. I have to take advantage of every scrap of motivation I can spare, and if that means giving up on this year’s community crunch, then so be it.
As I mentioned, I’m still going to try. I hope to post some updates throughout the month, but with as much as I already have to do, blogging definitely won’t be a priority.
To those of you Nano-ing tomorrow, you have my most ardent respect and support. To those who aren’t, you’re badasses too.
No matter what our path is to a finished novel is, let’s get it done, shall we?
For those curious, the books I read while out of town were Empire of Sand and City of Brass. I enjoyed and have thoughts on them both, but I don’t really know how to write reviews so I’ve been holding off on discussing them. How do people talk about books, anyway? How do you share criticism without being a dick about it? I don’t know, but if you like Middle Eastern inspired fantasy, check them both out.
And, while I’m here, if anyone has any recs for political fantasies, more in the vein of Kushiel’s Dart but not quite as dense, send them my way, cause that’s what I want to read.
That’s all from me this week. I’m sorry I’m so bad at this whole blogging thing! Until next time, may your writing be plenty and your struggles few.