Oh. I should post. This blog is a thing.
Suddenly you see why I posted three or four times a week over the summer — not because I had a lot to say, but because I had nothing else to do. Now that I’m embroiled in university, I could have a thousand post ideas and you still wouldn’t actually get to read them. This place is stealing every second of my time.
Which means that NaNoWriMo this year is, for perhaps the first time, going to be something of a challenge.
I don’t do NaNo because I have difficulty writing fifty thousand words in a month. I don’t do it for the wordcount, so it’s been several years since my NaNo novels relied on word-padding and redundancy to make them longer. I don’t do it to complete a novel, because I can do literally all of those things any month I decided to do them. But I do NaNo because it’s a kick up the backside to get writing when I’m not prioritising it, and because of the community that forms on the forums.
I know that I need to write. It’s a simple statement of fact. When I don’t write, I’m miserable and stressed, prone to panic attacks, weird dreams and general bad days. I have to find time to write. That doesn’t mean I don’t feel guilty when I take time off from working on my essay, learning Old Norse noun declensions, or translating nonsensical Old Irish phrases to work on a novel: I do. NaNo kind of reduces the guilt for me.
What NaNoWriMo does for me is give me a reason to write, even an obligation. It makes me feel guilty for not writing, and therefore allows me to take half an hour or an hour out of my day to work on a novel, forcing me to calm down and go into that mood where I’m not stressing about my work, but just focused on creation — a mindset I need to get into once in a while, because otherwise my brain will overheat and I’ll start freaking out.
So it’s more important for me to do it this year than any of the years gone before, even though it’s harder.
Last year, dictating my novel with Dragon NaturallySpeaking, I wrote 50k in three days and went on to finish the novel with about 95k. The year before, typing, I wrote 50k in four days and then went on to write 200k total over the course of the month. The year before that was another quick win, though slower afterwards, and the year before that was my 193k year. Only my first year have I stopped at 50k, and that was the first novel I ever completed.
This time last year I was in the run-up to 50k. Now, I’m settled around 8k, where I’ve been since midnight on Saturday. I wasn’t in a great headspace on Saturday, and writing was literally the only thing I could function enough to do, so I did that instead of working, and got a good number of words done. But I haven’t done anything since, and I’m not sure when I’m going to find time to do it.
I’m going to, though. Because I need to, and because NaNoWriMo tells me I’m allowed to.
For those interested, I’m working on a second draft. It’s book two in my assassin!trilogy, which I now refer to as The Moth Trilogy, and the working title for the book is Bloodied Wings. I wrote the first draft in August and September but quickly realised that it had underlying structural issues; while planning last week I realised that the reason my attempts to fit it into three-act structure were failing were because it needed to be in five acts.
Of course it needs to be in five acts. It’s a tragedy, and I’m an idiot for forgetting that. I had the exact same realisation back in 2012 and it made everything easier, so I’m not sure why I forgot about it. Book one used seven-act structure. Book two is in five acts. I have a terrible habit of trying to squash my outlines into a form that doesn’t suit them, because I’m an idiot like that. But I’ve resolved it now.
This book’s a weird one because the protagonist is deeply, deeply messed up, and yet it’s somewhat calming to write her. I think it’s because, despite her myriad issues, they’re the furthest thing from my personal issues. I wouldn’t be able to work on The Quiet Ones, which takes place in a university setting and features a character with anxiety, because that would be too close to home and would stress me out. But I don’t kill people for a living, and despite my emotional incompetence I’m a lot better at feelings than my protagonist Isabel. So Bloodied Wings is a chance to get out of my own head and be someone else for a while, and I need that when I’m stressed.
You can see my mock-up cover and blurb over on the NaNo site, but I thought you might like a quick excerpt from the beginning of chapter one. So, here it is.
The media likes to speculate about the Moth.
Most of what they report is dull, predictable, and contradictory. The Moth today is a young man, slim but tall, who kills at night and sends flowers by day. A week later it’s an old woman who tricks people into inviting her in because she seems harmless. It’s obvious they have nothing approaching the truth; it’s equally obvious that they’re speculating because that’s what the public expects them to do.
Can’t get too close to the real story, though, or the guild will have their licenses and maybe their lives.
The facts they’ve got are these: the Moth is Comma, the Moth has been active for approximately four years, and the Moth is very, very good at killing people.
The Moth is also bored.
Isabel Ryans is sprawled across the sofa that dominates the small living room of the two-bedroom flat she shares with a large number of weapons and four years of solitude. A battered radio perched haphazardly on a shelf plays the public’s latest theories about her identity in the background while she half-heartedly unlaces her boots, pulling at them with one hand while the other hangs listlessly at her side. There’s nothing to interest her here. She keeps taking on more assignments, but they’re done too quickly, and once she’s back home there’s nothing else to do. Just sit around and eat and try to figure out how people, normal people, fill the yawning hours of everyday life.
She needs to get out more.
What are you writing this month? What’s the purpose of NaNo for you: a wordcount goal, a motivation to write, a way to work on existing projects, or a needless distraction? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll read them next time I’m procrastinating on my Old Norse…