Still playing catch up from a rough weekend. Posted 2568 today for a total of 32,436 words so far this month. And that leaves 17,564 to go.
The tracker on the NaNo says that I will finish on December 3rd at my current rate which is an improvement from yesterday that had it for December 5th. I need to reach at least the same number of words tomorrow, the minimum on Wednesday (a workday) and then max out on Thursday (Thanksgiving, challenge day!).Too bad before last Thursday I was at finishing on November 28th.
I am treating this not only as a teaching exercise in actual writing (as opposed to my professional procrastination (which I think I’ve achieved the rank of MASTER – bonus to me for double parenthetic comments, btw)) but also as an exercise in reaching deadline. I will reach that deadline, so help me God!
I have learned a bucketful so far in just twenty days. Number one, every single writer you have ever heard say that the way to learn how to write is to write is one-hundred and fifty thousand percent absolutely freaking correct. And I’m not saying that because I have acquired the skill in twenty days to write. Far from it. What I have learned is how much there is to it.
There is so much that goes into a story you can barely keep it in mind. Every single thing that is potentially a variable out there comes at you every single second, and there are always twenty or more of them. Now I think some of those can be eliminated with a little forethought and practice. Surely I could have reduced mine if I had thought of doing NaNo even a couple of days before November 1st and not the night of Halloween!
Even then your story may not go the way you anticipated. I had no idea what I was doing at all except for this idea that a Dark Lord of sorts who lives outside of time in a (outside of, that is) cyclical universe. It was an idea I toyed with briefly five or so years ago and then forgot about. He keeps killing a recurring iteration of this person who lives multiple lives (so think Shirley McClain meets The Matrix).
That’s it. And… write! And I have wrote some stupendous piles of crap in the last twenty days (and perhaps a few decent passages that would be alright with a little tweaking). It is scramble writing, I’m scrambling to a finish line. So yesterday I wrote this one scene where this Dark Lord (he’s actually now referred to as the Dark Surfer but that is just a placeholder as that name is already taken) kills this man yet again but this time as a newborn – he breaks the newborn’s neck.
I was very displeased with myself for having written such a thing as I do not like writing something that is evil merely to be evil. But then I thought, “well, I’ve been looking for a way to extricate the main character from this cycle of being murdered, and as long as the main character never remembers his prior life and demise there is no way out. How about make the Dark Surfer’s heinous act of murdering a child be the way out? That, somehow (and right now I don’t know even though I’m right in the middle of writing the scene) it causes his next self to recollect his past deaths and lives. I got this from listening to Father Mitch Pacwa on his call in show on EWTN answer a question about the souls of aborted children and whether or not they get to see the Beatific Vision. Pacwa answered in the affirmative.
Problem – Answer – Muse – QED.
That started a snowball where I wrote in three separate parts of the story tonight. I finished a meta-fictional piece (the novel is littered with such things that hint at the overall cosmology by the use of questionable sages and the esoteric writings of biographers without having to be explicit and dry – R.A. Lafferty uses this technique all the time and I’ve always wanted to do it myself)
– I also started what I thought was the final segment and the penultimate segment, then switched them, and then wrote a little back and forth in each section as one would make the other clearer the farther I went until I petered out (and my back as well!).
The switch occured when I was writing what I thought was the final segment when the character, (named in this iteration Dobromir Danneskjold – I like it!) who has gained the memory of his past lives in a dream, asks his priest what is eternal. The priest answers – Love. Ah, and what is love? And how has this man died up to now? Fearfully and cowardly and selfishly. There is only one way to end the cycle and that is to die by love, die in an act of love, and love is self-sacrifice.
And in Scrivener switching scenes around is easier than flipping a pancake.
And the important lesson here, for me, is that even though I could have planned some of this, I do not think I could have got all the way there (at least not at first – maybe not at all?) without first actually writing. I don’t think I would have got to the riddle to even come up with the answers. But that last, to die in an act of love, is a bonafide story solution, a thematic solution even. I was just hoping to have a coherent series of decently written events with some sort of physical resolution for my first try.
Well, I won’t have a coherent series of decently written events on November 30th. If I were the Demiurge (and I certainly was for this story) you would all have asses where your heads are supposed to be and you’d all have wings for feet and genitals for ears. But I solved a story problem through writing it. And in a much bigger fashion than I gave myself credit for being able to come with. Also I think there might be a few short stories in germ form sitting in that muck of chaos.
On December 1st I will have the material necessary for writing an actual novel.
I’d like to also write down the observation that in all the time I was an Objectivist I was never able to solve one story problem. It was always like trying to jam a fist down a dime-sized hole. But now that I am of Catholic mind, the story solution literally fell into my lap. Actually a priest on the radio dropped the first part right into my ear on the very day I was considering one of the problems. Plink!