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What I’m Writing: NaNoWriMo Week One Update

November 5, 2011


So this week in NaNoWriMo has been quite illuminating for me as a writer. Namely in that I didn’t realize most writers write without going back and looking at what they’ve written.* This BOGGLED my mind. Maybe it’s because I’m paid to be an editor. Maybe it’s because I find it fun to edit, because that’s when things really start to take shape and the words start to sing. Or maybe it’s because I’m the slowest writer in the world. Which is something I have learned this week. But I think mostly what I’ve learned is that I have to make time to write everyday.

Now, normally I do this anyway. During my lunch break, when I find myself with a couple minutes of nothing to do at work, when I get home and have an hour to kill before plans/TV/cooking/cleaning/etc. But when you really sit down and say to yourself, “Today I must write 2,000 words or I will miss a deadline,” that’s really when things start to happen. (I have a Master’s of Journalism. Deadlines are a big deal to me. I mean, they have the word dead in them for a reason, right?) And you know what? I’m SO EXCITED about where things have headed in my horribly working-titled Airport Book.

Things I Have Learned This Week:

  • I am a slow writer. I edit as I go. I check for continuity. I weigh my words and reconsider scenes and re-read what I’ve written just to make sure that it’s JUST RIGHT before moving on. Which brings me to the fact that I . . .
  • Write in sequence. When I started Airport Book, I wrote the beginning and the end, and then outlined the rest. So I know exactly what happens, every step of the way. And while sometimes when I’m writing a scene, I suddenly think “Wow, I’m in not in the mood to write something flirty. I kind of want to write an argument.” I don’t do it. Because it’s not what happens next. I do make a note of the things I’d have my characters say to each other, or what emotions they’d be feeling, but then I dive right back into the flirty scene I was loathe to write thirty seconds earlier. I don’t really know why I do this, but I do know that writing out-of-sequence kind of makes me want to die. So. THAT. 
  • It’s ok to be unsure of my words. Both Veronica Roth and Maureen Johnson wrote really great blog posts about this that really spoke to me. They talked about the importance of just getting the damn words on the paper and not worrying about minute details like if the word I just used is actually a word or if I called the character by the wrong name. Because those things can be easily fixed LATER. Never have I once ever ever ever thought about writing in this way. But you know what? I’ve started to do it (I was unsure of a minor character’s name and, I swear to God, I wrote That Dude Whose Name I Can’t Remember) and it’s REALLY LIBERATING. *grins*

Alright! So now I’m stealing an idea from author extraordinaire and fellow WriMo, Jeri Smith-Ready, and giving y’all a little snippet of the words that have happened this week. (Yes, this does mean I violated the DON’T GO BACK rule, but. I love y’all and want you to stay around. And I had to go back to find something to show you.)

So, this little snippet of (WARNING: UNEDITED.) dialogue is between Willa and her friend Ana and they’re talking about the fact that Willa and Dan are considering the possibility of trying to have a long-distance relationship.

“What do you mean?” I asked, suddenlyuncomfortable. I realized I was fidgeting by pulling the grass around me. Iwasn’t sure if I could be fined for that—after all, Central Park is a nationalpark and defacing it is a crime—so I willed myself to stop uprooting the poorgrass and then sat on my hands for good measure.   

“Letme spell it out for you. You live in New York. He lives in Dallas. I understandthat this is the age of the Internet and video chatting and such, but, girl,you’re gonna need something tangible every now and then.”  

Ihadn’t really thought of it that way. I mean, obviously I realize that beingsomeone’s girlfriend typically involves kissing (and more-than-kissing), and,yes I did enjoy the touching business at the airport when I last saw Dan. Butit’s not like I was sitting in New York fantasizing about what Dan and I wouldbe doing if we were in the same place. 

Well.Not a lot, at least. 

“Yeah,but Dan and I do see each other once a month,” I pointed out. 

“For,like, thirty minutes,” Ana said flatly. I hated her right then. 

 “Butthat’s better than nothing!” 

“Willa,I get it. I understand that you and Dan have this massive thing for each otherand I approve of you pursuing it. But I also think you need to be realistic.You both have needs and while talking on the phone and Skyping are both verynice modern conveniences, thirty minutes in a very public place once a monthisn’t going to be enough at some point.” 

Ihated how right she was. 

“Wellit’s going to have to be enough. And besides, it’s not like Dan and I havealways had a physical relationship. We’re more evolved than that.” I realizedexactly how elitist that sounded, but I didn’t care. I just wanted to be right.This was my relationship, not Ana’s. She didn’t—couldn’t—understand it. And,sure, all of the making out and giving each other chills from a touch and handholding in public is nice, but it’s not essential. Besides, all of those peoplefrom, like, the Dark Ages to the 1950s were able to suppress their PDA-urges,so why couldn’t I?             

“We’llsee exactly how evolved you are in two months when you’re practically humpingevery boy who walks by you,” Ana said drily before adding, “Do my shoulderslook like they’re burning?” 

©Bethany Larson, 2011. 

*When I say most, I mean the ones who have written blog posts about writing without going back to edit/perfect until AFTER the book is done.

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