NaNoWriMo – Day 12 – General Despair

When I signed up for NaNoWriMo I knew that the chances were high I would become completely stressed out at one point or another. And I knew if that happened, it would be really bad (because for various reasons I’m not dealing with stress very well these days).

Well, guess what! I hit this point a lot earlier than I expected, namely on Day 10 of NaNoWriMo. Uh-oh. Lying rolled up on the floor and sucking my thumb would have been one possibility to deal with the situation. However, the floor is rather hard (no carpet) (well…I could have bought a carpet, I suppose) and the whole thing might have worried my family a tiny little bit (not to speak of the doggie sister! she might have been traumatised by seeing me lying on the floor, sucking my thumb!) (ah, well, probably not; most likely, she would have just licked my face…and then my ear…and then the inside of my ear…ugh!).

So instead of the floor-option, I took deep breath (figuratively and literally) and a step back (just figuratively) and thought about what I wanted from NaNoWriMo.

50,000 words, no matter how bad?

No, actually not.

I know that on the NaNo forums and in blog posts about NaNoWriMo you hear a lot about how the first draft is always crap. Well, here’s the thing: that’s simply not true. Some authors produce a first draft in a very short time and then go through several rewrites — and this works absolutely fine for them. Yet it just doesn’t work for me: I’m a slow writer, but to make up for that, my first drafts normally just need some tweaking instead of major rewrites.

So I’ve decided that instead of stressing myself out over my word count for NaNoWriMo, I will simply proceed at my own pace and try to write the best story I can. Moreover, I’ve found that stories sometimes need a bit of space to breathe during the writing process, especially when they are very emotionally charged. When I write such stories, I feel wrung out after each writing session. Well, and guess what kind of story I’ve picked for my NaNoWriMo project!

To illustrate my point, I’ll leave you with a snippet from a scene I wrote this weekend. It’s a chance meeting between the hero and the heroine (who know each other from their youth – it’s a second-chance-at-love story):

“It was very good of you to play the piano for us last night,” he said gently.

She threw him a quick glance as if wanting to gauge his intentions. “Not at all,” she said, hiding her face once more. “I wouldn’t have been able to dance anyway, what with being still in mourning.”

“Ah yes,” he gravely replied. “My condolences at your loss.”

Her head whipped around and glittering brown eyes bore into his. “You shouldn’t—“ she began almost angrily, but then bit her lip. For whatever reason, new streaks of red slashed across her cheeks.

She glanced away, yet perhaps driven by that same force that kept him rooted to the spot, she sought his gaze again after a few heartbeats. “You know it was no love match,” she finally said quietly. “I do not—“ She stopped, chewed on her lip. “I do not miss him,” she whispered. She looked across the shop, presenting him with her profile.

How thin her face had become, almost haggard.

“Did you ever meet him?” she asked softly. “He was rather … old.”

“How old?” he felt compelled to ask, his voice gruff.

She bowed her head. “More than thirty years my senior.”