Famous Last Words

Winner-2014-Twitter-ProfileI just rolled across the NaNoWriMo finish line. That’s right, I did make it after all. And I must say, I was quite pleased with the words that kicked me across that line: “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!” (one of my characters is really happy with having won a draw). And there it is, 50,002 words. I just think they’re great words to have passed the NaNo goal posts with. So eloquent, so erudite, so evocative… The writer’s craft at its finest.

Oh, but to be clear, those words just brought me to the finish of NaNo – the story isn’t done yet. You see, the draw that the character in question won only means he gets a chance at entering another contest, so I still have to write that, and the outcome of it is what determines everything – well, maybe not everything, in a manner of speaking, but… Okay, I’ll shut up. The story isn’t even finished, and if I told you what it was all about, I’d be letting all sorts of cats out of the bag (small-c cats, not big-C as in Catriona – but yes, she is an important part of this story, too. I’m not giving anything away if I tell you that. And if you don’t know who Catriona is, read Seventh Son, you’ll find out).

Besides, this story is still quite a muddle, but that’s the nature of NaNo novels. When you’re pounding out 50k words in four weeks, and without the proper clear outlining a novelist ought to have engaged in beforehand (which I’ve never yet done, but have good intentions for), the story you end up can be a little, umm, bumpy. To the tune of “Why the heck is this person doing that? That makes no sense. Ah, whatever, gotta keep writing to make my word count…” And then you go in afterwards and smooth out all the bumps. Or sometimes take a pickaxe to them and dig them out of the pavement altogether (I’ve just been writing lots about streets with cobblestones. Pardon me if my road works imagery is a little skewed in the medieval-ish direction rather than the modern asphalt one).

I’m learning all sorts of things about how the novelling process works, and this bumps-smoothing-or-pickaxing is one of those things. But that actually comes later, quite a bit later. For now, I’m going to celebrate my NaNo win, first of all with a glass of wine, and then by going to the last write-in of our local NaNo bunch tomorrow to keep on writing until I actually finish the story.  Because the whole point of this exercise, for me, isn’t to just write 50,000 words – else I could have just repeated “Yes!” another 49,995 times – but to get a story. And one I like, at that. That’s what I’m doing when I’m writing tales of librarians and cats and magical blue-glazed pottery bowls – I’m telling myself a story, which is something I’ve done in my head for as long as I can think (I kid you not. I remember doing it when I was perhaps three or so, every night in bed in order to put myself to sleep. I believe back then the storylines involved chimpanzees who had lots of really cool toys to play with). And if out of that, the storytelling-for-myself, comes a book that others enjoy too, that’s a big bonus.

Life, the Universe, and Famous Last Words. I finished NaNoWriMo – yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!!