Liz (amidala_thrace) wrote,

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NaNo 2008: yes, no, maybe

The title of this post pretty much says it as far as my potential participation in National Novel Writing Month 2008 goes. Basically, I haven't decided, but I figured I should probably make at least a preliminary post in my creative/fandom journal to let other NaNoers on my f-list know where I stand.

Which is kinda ... nowhere at this point. I have some reservations about it, based partially on my experience last year, partially on my real life-schedule this year and partially due to my muse's own vagaries. I am however hoping to overcome these and do something for NaNo, if perhaps unofficially. I guess I'll discuss each of the barriers in turn and see if I can talk myself into doing it. XD

First, my experience last year. Which was not wholly bad, per se. I got a lot of writing done and I met some great friends and connected with other writers in a way I haven't done since high school. But, and this is the million-dollar but, I also did not complete it or win, which in Liz-land is as good as saying I failed. I suppose it was the manner in which I "failed" that bothers me the most - I ignored blatant warning signs which I should've seen a mile off and just plunged ahead into a new project without thinking. Which I suppose at its heart is supposed to be what NaNo is about, but that concept doesn't work for me. It never has. I knew that, and yet plunged ahead anyway.

I've said before that I cannot work concurrently on two large projects in the same fandom. This holds true now and it held true last October 31 when I was all revved up and thought I could do it. It also held true in the middle of November when I finally quit. I had To Ignite the Stars, which was and is my baby and paramount in my mind when it comes to thinking about whether I can take on other writing projects. I embraced the fact that at that moment - the moment when the idea for my NaNo hit me - I was not feeling much inspiration for TIS. I should never have done so. While it's true that my SW muse is, more often than not, distressingly short on inspiration, it's also true that the inspiration to work on TIS will inevitably - INEVITABLY - return. This is a fact as certain as the sun rising in the east or the law of gravity continuing to be in effect. It is a fact that has proven true through the past year, and it is a fact that I ignore at my peril.

But I foolishly believed that I could juggle two projects, ignoring all the evidence to the contrary, and history once again repeated itself midway through November when in literally the blink of an eye, my inspiration to work on my NaNo evaporated to be replaced with a raging urge to WRITE. TIS. NOW. I tried to ignore it. I wrote one more chapter of my NaNo but I wasn't pleased with it and it was soon tossed on the (admittedly tiny) slush pile of Projects That Liz Has Abandoned. I don't want to declare my last year's NaNo abandoned - not completely, not yet - because there is a distinct possibility that I'll return to it after To Ignite the Stars is finished. (Which at this rate looks to be sometime in 2035. Heh.) And I still have a certain amount of interest in the project. But there is also every chance that the elements I'd planned to incorporate into it will become part of TIS instead, and I will have to abandon it. We'll see.

The other mistake I made was plunging headlong into it without an outline. Time was a factor here, in that I came up with my NaNo 2007 idea about five days before November 1 and so really didn't have time to do the kind of detailed outlining that keeps me on such a straight and narrow course with To Ignite the Stars. The genesis of To Ignite the Stars in my brain happened at the beginning of April 2007, and astute observers will note that this was a full three months before the first chapters would actually be posted to LJ. This is very typical for me as a writer and in fact, all my major projects have followed that pattern. I get an idea, but I DO NOT act it on it right away. Instead, I let it percolate in my brain for awhile, maybe two or three weeks or even a month, and then I commit a detailed outline to paper. This outline contains an overall plot, yes, but it will also have such minute facts as where a particular character will be standing at a given moment, what expression is on their face and who they will be talking to. These details having been written down, I now have more brainspace to devote to characterization, and to getting inside the heads of my characters so as to better communicate them and their thoughts to my readers.

The To Ignite the Stars outline is actually a joint collaboration between myself and my beta reader Katie. It was pounded out over a period of three days over AIM, and we each have a copy. It runs nine pages, single-spaced, in small type. It contains each event, both major and minor - in other words the full unadulterated plot - and has been reviewed and revised more times than I can count. For my outlines are not static; they often get written and re-written and re-re-written and written again, many times over the course of the project. When I'm writing and Katie and I are both online (which is a much rarer occurrence than it used to be, but still happens often enough), I'll usually send her the latest passages and she checks them over for adherence to the outline and effect on the overall plot as well as mundane stuff like spelling and grammar issues. She is also the resident SW canon expert. Now, of course, TIS does deviate from SW canon in several important aspects, but she helps me to make sure it works in the context of canon or, if it's a deviation, that it would still be believable in terms of the characters and plot. I've asked Katie many times if she wishes me to consider To Ignite the Stars a collaboration between myself and her, and thus a co-authored fic (which would make sense given that it partially grew out of an old roleplay she and I used to do together), but she always refuses, claiming the original idea to be mine and that the writing is my writing. Which is true, I suppose, but the fic would not be what it is without her input and assistance.

I'm sure you can see by now that in comparison to this, the creative process for NaNo 2007 was severely stunted. This, in combination with the fact that it's generally not considered acceptable to edit/beta-read your NaNo, eventually spelled the end for the project. I might have been able to undertake at least the outlining process with Katie, but the problem was that the idea hit me with only five days to go until the start of NaNo. This barely gave it enough time to be thought over, let alone outlined properly. When I look back at the skimpy little outline I was able to throw together, I'm amazed that I wrote as much as I did. It seems utterly impossible in light of the above factors coming into play.

Those were my obstacles last year. They remain for this year, but with two additional ones added. First and most obviously, the fact that I'm in basically the same situation. I still write by extensively outlining and working with a beta, I still can't juggle two projects in the same fandom and I still don't have a workable idea yet. The first two would be semi-surmountable if not for the third. I'm afraid that the same thing will happen this year, that I'll get an amazing idea a few days before NaNo but will have even less inclination to work on it due to these factors and the added issue of knowing how it turned out last year. I don't want to start and then abandon another project. I hated doing so the first time and would feel even more foolish doing it this year, in light of what I now know about the way I work.

What I'd really like is if that awesome idea would come to me now, or in the next five or six days at the absolute outside, so that I'd have at least a fighting chance of working with Katie to turn it into a workable outline. Also, this idea will have to be BSG-related, or original work (and I have my doubts about that given I haven't written a long original story in about four or five years). Those are sizeable constraints, and ones that I'm not sure my muse will be willing or able to surmount. It's never been good at coming up with random longfic ideas "on the spot," as it were, and although I have several possibly workable ideas floating around in my brain at the moment, I've no idea whether "possibly workable" can translate into "actually workable." Katie and I will be messaging each other about that, believe me.

And then of course there's Darth Real Life, who has a rather disobliging habit of interfering at the most unfortunate moments. My duties at work are more numerous than they were last year, and I'll probably have more papers to write and midterms to study for in the school department. With a little advance planning I could likely take care of at least the papers, but the midterms will have to be studied for as they come up and no sooner. Last year I was taking three journalism courses, a workload that involved interviewing people and relying on them to get back to me, which is admittedly an obstacle I won't have to face this year. (And the school equation will be removed completely next year, given that I'm graduating from university in June 2009.) It will depend entirely on my own time management and how busy work happens to be. The first I can control to some degree, the second I can't.

I guess my overall position on NaNo right now is one of "like to, but might not." As in, I would like to but might not be able to, due to the various circumstances discussed above. I think it's an awesome idea and a great thing to devote yourself to, if you can, but it may not work this year within the context of my own muse and life. Next year, mind you, I am absolutely dedicated and I will do it if it fucking kills me, since hopefully by that point TIS will be finished and I can move on to my next big project. If not ... well, shit, I'm doing it anyway. Work alone plus NaNo I can manage; school plus work plus TIS (which I will probably work on in November whether I do NaNo or not) plus NaNo means spontaneous combustion on Liz's part. Which would not be pretty.

The tl;dr version: I'm still very much in "we'll see" mode right now, even after typing this post. And yeah, if you got through all that? I think you deserve internet cookies. XD
Tags: writing

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