It’s the most wonderful time of the year… when I can look back at November and decide whether or not the story I worked on every day for 30 days is worth its weight at all, or if it’s a load of rubbish that I need to chuck into the nearest bin (or desk drawer, or digital filing cabinet).
When the clock struck December I had about 57,000 words and a whole lot of disgruntlement. I mean, I was glad to have accomplished what I did, but the novel feels wrong. Like it’s off balance. I shared the first chapter with my critique group (by the way, everyone should have one of those! They keep you honest and on your toes*) and had that very same feeling of the voice being off-kilter confirmed.
I had no defense. I knew it was crap. But it was also a completely unedited first draft, one I hadn’t looked back at since November 2 when I finished that chapter. I know the strength in NaNoWriMo involves turning off our inner editor and simply letting the words flow. Last year I had no trouble with that. The year before, I had no trouble with that. But this year? Wow. I fought hard for every one of those 57,000 words… and it shows.
The novel has the working title The House on the Hill and the description is as follows: A long-dead actress is destined to rest uneasily… unless she can convince a seemingly unrelated group of people to put their heads together to solve her murder. It seemed like a good idea at the time, and during the course of those 30 days I made a lot of new fictional friends I never knew existed before. The format ended up being a story within a story, taking place at two different points in time. I really loved the past part of the story, but the present seems forced. So I’m going to shelve it for now, even though I know whodunit and how they whodunit, although I haven’t written that part yet. Maybe I’ll get back to it, but I have the distinct feeling that not all books are meant to be written.
In the meantime, today I remembered an idea I had for a novel I wanted to write, and realized this is the one I should have worked on for NaNoWriMo. Tonight, I started on it. I don’t know if this will be THE ONE or more fodder for the recycle bin, but I’ll find out. Check with me in a month or two.
* Are you a writer living in the East Bay? If you are, let’s talk.