Sunday, 27 January 2013

#NaNoWriWee done. Much sleep is lost, much is learned.

   Please forgive the typos and bad grammar, just coming off The Kernel Magazine/HarperCollinsUK's NaNoWriWee, in which crazy people like me tried to write an entire novel in 30 hours over the weekend.
   Given the time differences between GMT and Canadian PST, the weekend is over and the story - 22,000+ words titled Tokyo Pizza - is in. Once judging and awards are done and I have a week to edit I'll post a teaser. For now, suffice it to say I wrote a lot in a very short period, and wound up with a story and characters I actually like a lot. It's maybe too profane and too odd for most readers, but it has a few bits of real gold in it.
   What I learned is more important than what I did, and I'll try to share some bleary insights.

YOU CAN WRITE A LOT - Yes, all caps, because it's the big one. I just did 22,000 words, doing a light self-edit during composition in two days, across probably 24 or 26 hours. That pace equals a novel in a week. Sitting down and staying at your keyboard generates lots of words.

Plotting is overrated - I knew it aleady, but this proved it. I started off with five fictional characters based loosely on an autobiographical group, fearful that with no plot at all I needed a hook to hang my writing on. By the end of the first chapter I discarded all connection to real events and, 22,000 words later, had watched my characters - who were no longer anyone I knew - build their own plot, complete with twists I didn't expect, and threads that all tied up neatly in the end.

Write what you know - I've lived and worked in Japan, so writing a novella set there saved me days of research and I didn't sound like a complete idiot. I hope. people will complain "but all I did was flip pancakes in Belgium" or whatever. Doesn't matter. I took a 5-month exchange program in Tokyo twenty years ago and turned it into a weird Ginsbergian crime thriller. And it was easy. Someday I'll do something with my other years of Japan experience.

Kill fear - I don't write satirical retro-hipster thrillers with lots of drugs and sex, but I just did, and I did it by discarding fear. Someone (lots of someones) will probably be horrified by sections of Tokyo Pizza, but I don't care. It was fun, honest and educational to write. A lot of friends I've had over the years do act/talk like my characters. Sorry, but the world is a spectrum and so are readers. You can't please all the people all the time, so screw them and do the work. Lincoln said that, I think.

  All right, wobbly sleepy and signing out for the day. Peace, all.

    Edit: After getting some sleep, I'm stunned to report that what I wrote is really quite good, and it will - if not picked up by HarperCollins UK - wind up published (after a mass of editing) on Amazon, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. It may even breed a subsequent novel or two. It's contemporary satirical fiction/adventure and it's just plain fun in a hallucinogenic way.