I was reading some emails and came across one from Flylady (an excellent, motivating group for those who need to organize and get their houses in order). She was talking about something called NaNoWriMo, a group endeavor (I can't call it a competition, exactly, because you're competing with yourself) that takes place in November. From November 1 through November 30 the participants buckle down and write a 50,000 word novel.
After looking into it further, I signed up for NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month just for fun. The premise was interesting: the novel didn't have to be finished or polished, it just had to be fiction and have at least 50,000 words. (50,000 words equals about 150 pages in a standard, smaller paperback.)
Considering the length of fiction that I've written (admittedly not within thirty days) I thought it would be easy.
Rules were simple: you could not start writing your novel until November 1. You could:
jot down character information
jot down plot thoughts
do research and make notes
do a lot of thinking
The actual composition started only on November 1.
I'd had an idea for a story arising out of my Egyptian cycle. It involved an uprising in Nubia and the way several people handled the matter. I had an array of interesting characters:
Maya, a master artist
His young apprentice
Merneptah, an Egyptian prince, in Nubia under training by the Crown Prince
some other folks, bad and good
I had my research set out, character notes, lots of thinking... But I didn't write it. It didn't seem right.
I did no writing on November 1, or not much. I was visiting family, and the great snow catastrophe of 2011 slammed my area. No power for a week, Not a lot of writing done. The folks at the Office of Letters and Light (which holds NaNoWriMo) have a handy little calendar that shows a writer's output during that month:
The red spaces show no writing. Orange is very low. Green is cooking right along. Yellow is so-so.
I scrapped the Nubian story and went with one that popped, like Athena, fully armed into my head. It has the working title of Mourningtide. It flowed nicely, though I really had to push to get any momentum after the disruption of the blizzard and the forest of broken trees.
But - I finished!
It's a wonderful thing to work under pressure and discover that if you don't have the opportunity to laze around and write a bit here and a bit there you can nevertheless produce the bones of a very good story within thirty days.
But Mourningtide is another post...