This week has been a week full of endings and beginnings. In no particular order, this week I have:
– finished Camp Nanowrimo
– refinanced a mortgage
– bought a spiffy road bike at a steal (hello REI used gear sales!)
– signed up for motorcycle school at the end of May
Finishing Camp Nanowrimo has obviously freed up a lot of time, though it leaves me at a cross roads with my manuscript. In April, I added 50,000 words to it, doubling my first draft length. My total word count is now ~93,500 words, making this the longest piece of fiction that I have ever written, but it still doesn’t have an ending. I was writing so fast and furious that I’ve forgotten a lot of the loose ends that I injected as I went along, so now I’m feeling like I need to stop and reread what I’ve done and focus on shoring up the structure of the plot. Not every decision that I made writing under that sort of pressure were necessarily good ones and some of the work needs to be honed out. But there is something there to edit, which means even writing scenes that will be tossed out has given me something to work with. That alone makes the Nanowrimo challenges worth doing.
I do have a fear that entering revision without trying to write an ending first will kill my momentum on the project, but I’m not sure I see the point of writing an ending that will almost certainly be weak. I wish I knew more novel writers so that I could ask about their process. I know that I’m surely not the first person at this juncture, but I also know that the real answer is what is going to work for me personally. And I’m not sure exactly what that is yet, since this is uncharted territory.
Right now I am forcing myself to take a break from it entirely. I haven’t read anything in over a month, so I’m making myself read a few books to remind myself about the structure of successful novels. At the moment, I’m reading the first book in the Game of Thrones series, which is crafted well. It’s been helpful in thinking about where I am in my own manuscript. When you read a good published novel, it always seems like the author sat down and wrote it perfectly, line by line, knowing what was going to happen next. And perhaps there are authors out there like that, but it’s pretty rare. The process is vastly messier than that, but not, I am discovering, without structure after all.
I am starting to miss my characters, after nearly a week of rest from them. It’s a good missing, a longing to find out what happens at the end. I also look forward to knowing. I was feeling pretty burnt out at the end of Nanowrimo, so it’s revitalizing to know that this story is still worth telling and that it has so much more in it.
In the meantime, I’m going to take some time to ride my new bike and reflect and enjoy the glorious weather that May always brings. The page will wait. Just not for too long.