I’ve uh…I know I’ve written about this before. Consider it a kind of therapy to get myself in some sort of “Zone” wherein I can just finish the damn book I’ve been writing without any more dickering.

But as you may remember, I did NaNoWriMo last November, getting 50K words written in 30 days. Turns out novels are longer than 50K words. Or this one is, at least. So without the arbitrary deadline looming over me, I wasn’t able to keep up the pace. Plus holidays, graduate applications at the school I teach for.

But it’s not just the time. It’s way easier to bang out 2000 words a day when you’re starting a novel. It’s much harder to do when you’re ending one, provided you want to conclude the thing and not just stop it. Yesterday was day 42 of the drafting process. Not consecutive days—42 days of sitting down to write. I’m just past 70K words. Here’s the problem: the draft is structured alternately around one man’s goings on in a southern college town and one woman’s goings on in a Washington D.C. suburb. It became clear around day 35 that this structure won’t work and will be changed on revision. I was writing two novels that tried feebly to connect, and each ended up paltry by not getting my full attention.

So I have to end this draft with an ending that won’t work for a future version of the novel. In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, I’ve been all: just get it down, idiot. But now I can start to see an ending that’ll work for the revised novel. So I’m just going to try to write that ending. Okay? Who cares if it doesn’t make sense. Also: I think in revision I’m going to steal Schutt’s structure in All Souls. If you haven’t read this book yet, you’re missing something new, I think, about a way a novel can get made without drawing attention to something new getting made.

I think it’s that liar Zadie Smith who said that at a certain point writing your novel is all downhill. Maybe this has been her experience, but for me it’s all uphill. Like the Cosmos Mystery Area. Survive it!

The No I'm Wri-ing

I’m a participant in this year’s , or NaNoWriMo, which challenges people to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

I’ve been “writing” a novel in my head for six years, with several starts that have been abandoned. I’ve been teaching novels and telling people how to write them and giving advice on my friends’ novels for years. Years of talking about writing novels. Now I’m writing one.

NaNoWriMo is easy to hate. In the midst of more writers in the world than readers to read their work, why should we encourage this production of writing for writing’s sake? What good novel was ever expurgated in this way, in 30 days?

All I know is that I moved in here August and since then I haven’t really written anything. I’ve done some revising. I wrote for a blog a review of my own contribution to Mud Luscious Press’s stamp stories project, which I’ll probably link to if it ever gets posted. I’ve written here. But I haven’t written “real” writing while worrying about writing “real” writing.

Now I’m writing, averaging about 2,000 words a day. Continue reading The No I'm Wri-ing