Fumbling Toward The End: The Reveal*
(*an actual “scene title” in my Scrivener App.)
Start as close to the end as possible.
So, I’m kind of in this little writing challenge that happens each November. As a way to grow The Novel’s word counts and keep it interesting for me, I decided to dedicate my kamikaze-do-or-die writing days to the second half of The Novel. My purpose for my kamikaze writing days (other than the fact that I needed to be realistic with my schedule since I work in retail for my FT AND PT paythebills jobs in the heart of the holiday season)? So that I can race along to the finish, and then go back to the first half of The Novel and fatten up those scenes. I’ve said this before, but success breeds success, and the more “wins” I can achieve, the more motivating it is for me to continue.
In these mad sprints to glory, I’ve realized a few things. First, I have completely drowned out my Internal Editor and sent her packing to live with my closet trolls. (Take that Internal Editor! Chew on some socks, and last year’s belts!) Second, that in focusing on the end, I have a clearer grasp of my beginning.
Method Behind the Madness
When I tell some people that I aim to write 5,000, 7,000, even 10,000 words in a day, I sometimes get asked: “Is your story even coherent with that volume of writing?” The answer: Yes; in a way. It is to me. Since I plotted, outlined and pretty much pre-planned The Novel scene by scene. Is it anywhere close to being published? Of course not! I write better quality e-mails than this Story-As-Is. I definitely wouldn’t send this drivel to any crit partners or beta readers.
Do I care? No.
Because that’s the point of this beautiful, awesome thing called “NaNoWriMo” and my kamikaze-do-or-die writing days: I don’t have to get it anywhere close to perfect. I just need to get it written. THEN, the real work of revising, editing, polishing The Novel to the point where EVERYONE can actually read and understand it will come to play. THAT is when I will beg and plead other writers to beta read, critique, and otherwise rip my work to shreds (but nicely, and with purple ink, rather than red please).
I don’t dwell on the fact that The-Novel-So-Far has shifting points of views, perspectives, and a LOT of telling and not showing in the efforts to just get the story down and written. Believe me, I’ll still go back and get to those points. (I mean, there’s at least 20,000 words waiting to be born back there that I can add to my word counts 😉 ). The value of them to me is just the idea that they exist. Those words are already there, and all I need to do is tweak them. This thought allows me to Just. Keep. Writing. And really, as a beginning writer, that’s what I need. Good habits. Momentum. Progress in the right direction. Writing a story straight through till The End seems like the right direction to me.
I know that Faulkner said that writers ought to kill their little darlings, but I choose to categorize that little bit of advice to the “Revision” process rather than the “Just Get It Written” process. I love reveling in the random phrases and words that my fingers type up so quickly, my mind wasn’t even conscious of it. Besides, the Little Darlings need to get written first before we can kill them and give birth to True Genius (*cue angelic choir music*). At least, that’s how I look at it.
In these sprints, I’m able to get to the heart of the matter. Capture more essential, urgent things. Hear more random tidbits and snippets that I don’t even realize I’m writing.
She laughed again. I need to stop being so hilarious to this woman. She’s starting to piss me off.
–A random line that I didn’t even know I’d written until after my break. I don’t even use “piss” in daily speech. Silly muses.
And, in the heat of the moment, I discover more intensity from my characters, my worlds, my words, that I wouldn’t have had I been plodding along.
Of course, there’s a time, place, and purpose for everything. Do I do these mad dashes all the time? No. I think I would crash and burn after not too long. I believe in balance. But, in the spirit of the challenge, in the spirit of motivation, and in the spirit of my compulsive need to reach all of my goals, I think these mad dashes bring me the most peace. It affirms to me that when push comes to shove, I have the discipline needed to make writing my lifelong career.
I know that I can be good, even great, in a variety of roles. But, stories…they are my passion, and I would love to see the day when my passion and paythebills worlds align.
Just keep writing, fellow dreamers.