Thursday, October 29, 2015

In Which Stiefvater Stops Being Such a ******e about NaNoWriMo

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Dear michiefen,

Traditionally, I have been somewhat of an ******e about NaNoWriMo. I began being an ******e about it in 2010, when I tried to use NaNo to write The Scorpio Races, and persisted in being somewhat of an ******e for years. We hissed at each other in the halls. NaNoWriMo stabbed my tires in the Target parking lot. I squeezed pimples into its Starbucks latte.

But this year I was driving along in my car shortly before it caught fire and I was thinking about NaNoWriMo, and in this blessed and liminal space I realized that my problem with NaNoWriMo was that I was too old. No, not too old. Too world-weary. No. Not too world-weary. It was just — I had spent too many years securely in the saddle to remember what it was like to be unable to even get a foot in the stirrup. I didn’t remember what it was like not knowing if you could actually finish a novel, because I had finished my first novel long, long ago (I was 11 or so. It was terrible. The first chapter was about dogs test-driving a car). I had lots of problems with my writing, but none of them involved the question of whether or not I could hit 50,000 words in a month. The question was not if I could make a word count. It was if I could make that word count story-shaped.

I probably still have that problem.

Anyway, this year, I can recognize that many writers are existing in that stage of still finding their stirrups, even if I will not be joining you in the official NaNoWriMo trenches. And in light of my early writing days, I do have a tip: don’t begin writing until you know one of these two things:

 1) your ending*

 2) why you’re writing this novel**


*If you’re trying to use NaNoWriMo to get better at writing, I’d recommend trying to write a complete story during the month of NaNo, even if it is less than 50k. I wrote a lot of fiction before I hit college, and the novels that taught me the most are the ones I actually made it to the end of. The one that taught me the least is the one I simply revised eleven times. As I learned from my time atMerry Sisters of Fate, my collaborative short story blog, you learn a lot more about story-making when you have to do all parts of it instead of just lovingly polishing the ugly seams out of something written by a less sophisticated version of yourself.

**Sometimes you don’t know the end of the story because you don’t know how the characters are going to play out and nothing you imagine for them feelstrue. You need to write it out. In this case, I recommend knowing why you’re writing the story so that you can return to that mission statement again and again as a touchstone.

After every chapter you write, ask yourself if that chapter has gotten you closer to 1 or 2. And if the answer is no, delete it. Start again the next day. Don’t be afraid to delete it just because you need the wordcount. A really inspired writing session can give you 10-30k words in a night. It’s always better to chase the story than the wordcount.

 And don’t get freaked out. If you don’t make it, you can always post a surly Dear John letter on the internet for the next three or four years. It worked for me.



1 comment:

-b9 said...

Q: Can anyone tell me the difference between K2 and IQ? A: Nthn. In Seventh-Heaven, we gitt'm both HawrHawr Need summore thots, ideers, wurdz or ironclad iconoclasms? Look no firdr, ya wild CARD-iologist...

VERBUM SAT SAPIENTI: As an ex-writer of the sassy, savvy, schizophenia we all go through in this lifelong demise, I just wanna help U.S. git past the whorizontal more!ass! we're in (Latin: words to [the] wise)...

"This finite existence is only a test, son," God Almighty told me in my coma. "Far beyond thy earthly tempest is where you'll find tangible, corpulent eloquence" (paraphrased). Lemme tella youse without d'New Joisey accent...

I actually saw Seventh-Heaven when we died: you couldn't GET any moe curly, party-hardy-endorphins, extravagantly-surplus-lush Upstairs when my beautifull, brilliant, bombastic girl passed-away due to those wry, sardonic satires.

"Those who are wise will shine as brightly as the expanse of the Heavens, and those who have instructed many in uprightousness as bright as stars for all eternity" -Daniel 12:3

Here's also what the prolific, exquisite GODy sed: 'the more you shall honor Me, the more I shall bless you' -the Infant Jesus of Prague.

Go git'm, girl. You're incredible. See you Upstairs. I myself won't be joining'm in the nasty Abyss where Isis prowls
PS Need summore unique, uncivilized, useless names? Lemme gonna gitcha started, brudda:

Oak Woods, Franky Sparks, Athena Noble, Autumn Rose, Faith Bishop, Dolly Martin, Willow Rhodes, Cocoa Major, Roman Stone, Bullwark Burnhart, Magnus Wilde, Kardiak Arrest, Will Wright, Goldy Silvers, Penelope Summers, Sophie Sharp, Violet Snow, Lizzy Roach, BoxxaRoxx, Aunty Dotey, Romero Stark, Zacharia Neptoon, Mercurio Morrissey, Fritz & Felix Franz, Victor Payne, Isabella Silverstein, Mercedes Kennedy, Redding Rust, Phoenix Martini, Ivy Squire, Sauer Wolf, Yankee Cooky, -blessed b9...

God blessa youse
-Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL

PS Whahahahahaha
Dont those wascally dawgz
always blasphemously flatu...
LATER, dood... ???
You're funny.
You should go on stand-up, girl

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