Last night around 11:40, I crossed the NaNoWriMo finish line with 50,074 words and (surprise) finished the story. I had hoped this one would be a bit longer, but as it is, I wrote well past what I had expected to be the final scene. The last two sections are clean up. I figured it kinda wasn’t fair of me to end where I had thought I was going to end anyway. However fond I am of conclusions that aren’t real resolutions, I needed something more here because I cared about these characters enough to want to tie up all their loose ends. The first clean up section really was necessary, as it addresses a few things that needed to be addressed. The second, however, wasn’t really necessary at all except I needed the word count. Although to be fair, I do like the way that scene wraps up, and it’s conceivable that I’ll try to work that bit in a little better when I get around to editing this story. We’ll see.
I usually learn something about my writing when I do NaNoWriMo — my habits, my recurring themes, my style and so on. This year has taught me two things. One, planning is anathema to enjoying writing for me. I don’t mean outlining — outline is a cardinal sin in my writing world. I mean planning point points, sketching out incidents and scenes — pseudo-outlining, if you will. I have more fun when I don’t have plans to follow. All I need are a handful of characters, a basic plot, a starting scene, a closing scene and maybe (this is very optional) a vague idea of what happens between the opening and the closing. The rest takes care of itself, really. Too much planning and I will either feel like I’ve already written the story and not give a fuck or get frustrated when the characters have other plans. Playing fast and loose with plot allows me to take the story’s and characters’ eccentricities in stride. I thought, for example, that Sage’s hook up for the story would be one of the human batteries. Instead, it ended up being an FBI agent. But it worked better that way. I also hadn’t planned on one aspect of the plot that ended up being pretty damn important, but it worked. And that’s fun. A year’s worth of planning is not. From now on, if I see a plot roaming around in my head that I like, I will write it. I won’t go “I’ll do this for NaNo!” and write out character sketches, short background stories, and on and on. I will just start writing it.
The second thing I learned — and I’m not sure at all what to do with this — is that I can’t really write novels. Although, really, 50k words is just the low end of novel. Adult novels. YA is shorter, but I don’t write YA and I don’t care to, but I’m rambling, hence the mention of it. I seem to be most comfortable between 10k and 30k. Which makes me a noveletteist/novellaist. Which is okay but for the fact that writers cannot make a living off of short story sales alone. Not that I’ve ever sold anything, but it’s something to consider in terms of career and what I really want out of a writing career.
For all the fun I’ve had with NaNo this year, I am glad to be done. It gets difficult to push like that because some days just aren’t good for writing. It’s easier when there’s no deadline. I’m also glad to be done because early in the month, I injured my left hand somehow. Still not sure how. I think I slammed up against the underside of my desk at work. The result has been lingering soreness and difficulty typing for long periods of time. It’s gotten better. There’s no longer a moment of agony when my fingers are smushed the wrong way — it’s down to a quieter pain now. Not typing will help speed the healing along. But that’ll only be for the next five days or so. December brings its own bevy of projects, two of which require transcribing from handwritten pages.
Also, it feels really weird not to be at work today.