Wednesday, October 27, 2010

NaNo: The Next Generation

November, as many of you know, is National Novel Writing Month. (If you don't know what NaNo WriMo is, you can check out their website here. But basically, it's a huge group of people spending a month writing a large number of words.) I've participated the last several years and blogged about my past projects here.

The first year I did it, I decided to play the night before and was astonished with how much I was able to create. It took me only two weeks to pass 50k and I was completely done with the book in just a few more days. Considering that my previous novels had taken years, this was pretty amazing.

The second year, I didn't even consider not doing it. But by the third, I'd realized that I didn't really need the national group support to write that quickly. I'd knocked out several roughs in equally short periods on my own and had realized it was the next step of the process I really needed to be focusing on. You know, the bit where you take an unpresentable rough and turn it into something printable? But I wanted to participate anyway because I liked the program and wanted to help support other writers. That year's project was something new, an adult romance. It didn't go too great, even though I passed the 50k goal as easily as ever. What I wrote wasn't what I wanted it to be and when I tried to rewrite it, I lost heart.

Then came last year... I decided to participate mostly to make up for the year before. I hit 50k and finished the story, but it took most of the month. For me, that was depressing. Most of the issue was because I had spent so much time with editing that I was incredibly conscious of what needed to be done. I wasn't quite editing as I went, but my internal editor was definitely screaming for me to slow down and pay attention to what I was doing.

So this year, I was thinking maybe I shouldn't do NaNo. I've passed the point where I need the encouragement to finish and I'm becoming comfortable with a slower pace that interferes with the rest of my life a little less than NaNo does and leaves manuscripts that don't need quite as much work. Plus, I'm about half-way through the first draft of my park skiing novel.

But... So many of my friends are doing it. And I do still like the idea.

So, it occurred to me... What if instead of having trouble fitting homeschooling and family life around NaNo, I made NaNo a part of homeschooling and family life this year? I went to my eight-year-old and asked him how he'd feel about co-writing a novel with me. The last two years, he's done his own projects during NaNo and produced short works of fan-fiction (by which I mean to say that he dictated them to me, thus taking time away from my own writing while I tried not to be too frustrated that he was telling us what happened to Mario rather than showing us), but I proposed that this year rather than doing separate projects at the same time we could do one together.

Now, before a NaNo purist points out that the adult site says you can't work with a partner, let me point out that I'm aware of that. Honestly, I've never been able to figure out why that's a rule. Maybe they figure it would mean each person writing 25k on their own and thus wouldn't convey the full experience. But a.) Why not if that's how the book you want to write works? You still get a book you might not have otherwise. And b.) That's not even remotely what the kiddo and I are doing. We'll be sitting side-by-side discussing each sentence we type. Frankly, it sounds a lot harder to me than writing on my own is.

I'll be surprised if we hit 50,000 words. That's not really our goal. Our goal is to finish a middle grade novel. There are examples of 50k MG books, but most of them run under that. Maybe we'll finish and move on to a sequel to make the word count. Maybe we'll finish and refuse to talk to each other until Christmas. It's hard to say.

We're going to have a lot of challenges. I've never co-written a book before. I've never written a Middle Grade before. It's been years since I've worked in third person, as kiddo wants to do. I already mentioned I'm halfway through something else and I don't plan on putting that completely on hold. And we're starting off the month with a week-long trip that will include at least two days where we'll be lucky to get anything written at all. And one of those days is the first day of the month, so we're going to be starting out behind schedule. =/

Overall, I'm exited though. I'm sharing something I love with my child. We've been working on character sheets today and I'll freely admit it's given me a headache. However, it's also let me see my boy's eyes shine with enthusiasm and hear gasps of excitement over sudden realizations. He's super-stoked and while part of me is tired just thinking about starting this project, seeing him thrilled about creating a story tells me it's something that should be done.

If you want to want to follow our progress, I'm sure I'll be Tweeting about it. Or you can check out our NaNo profile. It's under my old account name, ladyhegehog, and is here.

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