Prior to Saturday evening at approximately 10:06 pm, my NaNoWriMo novel was approximately 6974 words. Right on target for four days, whch meant I needed to write roughly 1667 words Saturday night to stay on pace.
But November 5th was also declared National Drunk Writing Night (NaDruwWriNi) and since I knew of some others who were participating, I thought maybe I’d try my hand at it.
I failed, spectacularly, but not for the reasons that you’d think.
See, my NaNoWriMo is supposed to be a novel that grew out of an idea I’d tested out a few years ago but never finished. And until tonight I was running straight down that very same path. I was getting to the point where hitting my word goal was more important than telling the story, which was resulting in paragraphs like this one:
The room was typical of the older style classrooms that littered Left State University. Heavy ceiling tiles were nailed in place with nails that (along with the tiles) had been painted over so many times they blended into each other. Cinderblock walls painted in institutional yellow had somehow yellowed further (despite the fact that the university hadn’t allowed smoking in classroom in decades) and had begun peeling above the electric baseboard heaters that ran the length of the far wall. Above the heaters the windows reached most of the height of the wall, but the Venetian blinds that covered them were mostly closed, so the indirect afternoon sunlight filtered in, giving the room a ghostly white glow.
And a few paragraphs like the above aren’t necessarily bad, but 6000 words of that crap gets old. Nobody had done anything – I covered about three hours in realtime behavior by my characters in 6000 words. At that rate my 50,000 word goal would cover less than 48 hours of my characters’ lives, and the plot was supposed to span 18 months. Goodbye novella, hello War and Peace.
So tonight, I started drinking, got angry at my story, opened up a new document in my word processor, and decided to write a summary of the plot as told by the characters. The result of that starts something like this:
or: the chapter in which we stop fucking around and nail down a summary of the plot.
“Tell me about her.” Lynsey asked quietly. “Tell me what happened.”
The rest of the table looked first at Lynsey, then at Garrett, and back.
Gulping for air between the sobs that wracked his body, Garrett cried, “I can’t. I- You’ll hate me. They’ll all hate me.”
“I will,” Kira said quietly. “I know enough to start. I was there. And Suzanne-” she looked over at Suzanne, who was sulking in her chair.
“Oh, don’t worry, you’ll hear from me if I have something to say.”
Lynsey looked around the table at the circle of friends. “Thank you,” she whispered.
Mark stood, then tapped Kira on the shoulder. “Vanilla and the Doctor?” he asked. She smiled up at him. Looking around at the table, he said, “This is going to take a while. What’ll you have?”
Garrett waved the offer off, but Lynsey asked for a beer.
“Martini.” Julia requested.
“Scotch. Neat.” Suzanne growled.
Taylor and Kyle both rose from their seats. “Give you a hand,” Kyle said quietly.
“Yeah,” Taylor added. “Can’t leave you to carry all that by yourself.”
As the men walked away, Garrett’s sobs subsided, and he sat with his face buried in his arms on the table. Kira stood, grabbed the intricately decorated and horribly tall centerpiece off the table, and set it on the floor beside her chair.
“Now that we can all see each other,” she said, making eye contact with each of the girls in turn, “the beginning.”
Obviously, this is a totally different writing style, much more loose, faster moving, and effective. And it was further than I’d managed to get the characters in four previous days of writing. Hell, I had the majority of them in the same room, which was well beyond anything I’d accomplished so far.
So why can’t I post the rest of my NaDruWriNi post? Two reasons:
First, I’m not sure I got drunk enough to qualify. Over the course of three hours, I had three Rum & Dr. Pepper’s. (It tasted good. The Coke wasn’t refrigerated. Dont’ judge me.) That’s one shot rum to one can pepper, not very intoxicating.
Second, the snippet above is around 266 words of what I wrote tonight. I wrote 4736 words. That’s just over 15 pages in a standard font. If I post them all here, my homepage is going to be eighteen feet long. Your eyes will bug out. Your scroll wheel will disintegrate. Everyone will be annoyed.
And since the buzz has since well worn off, I’m not interested in annoying people. In fact, right now, I’m interested in going to bed.
At any rate, the point is that I finally broke the dam that was blocking the ideas from coming through, and I think I can see hope on the horizon for the novel. I’m not going to throw out what I’ve already written because I’m sure at some point it’ll come in handy, but if I can reach a point where it’s not needed in order for me to meet the 50,000 word goal, I’m quite happy with that too.