Adventures in Writing

Long overdue, but here’s my NaNoWriMo update: I successfully completed the NaNoWriMo challenge! Apparently I was one of only 38 people in Cape Town who finished it. It was a lot of fun and I’ll definitely be participating again in the future. Here’s what my NaNo stats looked like in the end. (The last few days were pretty intense):

Reaching... reaching... reached!

Reaching… reaching… reached!

Winner-180x180

The novel I wrote was terrible, but reaching the required word count before the deadline felt good and the exercise definitely helped to break me out of my writing slump.

One of the examiners of my MA manuscript from last year suggested that I try getting it published as a young adult novel. This was very flattering, but I wasn’t happy with the state of the piece, and the criticisms from some of the other examiners reinforced my recognition of the areas that need work. Earlier this year, I wrote up a list of things that I’d want to change in the novel before I’d even consider trying to publish it. My supervisor approved of these changes, and then I just sort of… forgot about it. Or got lazy. Or both.

Now that NaNo has lit a firecracker under my butt with regards to writing in general, I’ve started the process of hacking up and rebuilding significant parts of my old manuscript. One of the major changes is the removal of two extraneous characters. Last week, I got to work extracting these characters, and it was the strangest thing. It felt a bit like murder. A scene with three people suddenly became a scene with two, with the deleted character’s lines reworked and attributed to others, descriptions falling away, conversations changing meaning, remaining characters suddenly growing stronger and more important… The effect was intriguing.

It’s going to be a long process, as the character removal thing is only one of many major edits I’m planning to do. I don’t know whether or not I’ll ever get around to finishing this or bothering to try getting it published, but it’s something to do. I feel better about life when I’m writing or editing. Avoiding writing is easy, but dealing with the consequences (guilt, shame, and failure) is not!

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