Wednesday, November 12, 2014

In Which I Lose Faith in My WIP While Home Sick

I was home sick with my son today, sniffling and grumbling and playing silly games, when something amazing happened. He took a nap.

"I wrote I AM DRUMS during naptime!" I thought. "Time to crank out some words for NANOWRIMO!"

Then a problem came up -- I started writing in first person without even realizing it. This is not unusual for me, as I've written lots of middle grade fiction in first person. Only this time, I started writing first person without realizing it, for multiple paragraphs, in the middle of a third person narrative. That was part of my NANOWRIMO self-challenge -- the whole trying something different for fun approach.

You see, LUNCH BOX is a bizarre little thing. It's sort of genre-ish (I think), inspired by my students who leave their lunch boxes behind when they leave for the day (and what I joke might one day happen to their rotting food). It's also told in third person, past tense. I chose these things because they turn the story into a noble experiment that takes me out of my recent comfort zone. I churned out tons of stuff like this in the past, but recently I've been so glued to contemporary realistic middle grade first person present tense that I was beginning to wonder if I had what it takes to break out of it.

So that's why I started writing LUNCH BOX this way. And the sudden compulsive switch to first person went on for several paragraphs before I even realized I was making a mistake. And now I don't even know if it was a mistake. Maybe my brain is trying to tell me something? This whole forcing the story to be a certain way never works.

Then again, this is an experiment, and experiments need parameters if they are to be valid.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

LUNCH BOX, my Nanowrimo experiment

Here's a short list of things currently causing me to panic:

1) Report cards.
2) PT Conferences.
3) PT Conference with my child's teacher(s).
4) Something I can't talk about yet.
5) LIFE IN BOOLEAN VARIABLES, an intensely personal book that almost killed me (not literally), is in the hands of beta-readers, and I already see millions of things I wish I'd fixed before sending it out.
6) Something will pop into my head five minutes from now, and I will worry about it even though there is nothing to worry about.
7) I want to hold an ARC of I AM DRUMS in my hands (this will happen in the next few months, so I should chill out about this, too. Fat chance!).
8) I am taking over the spelling bee at school, because I'm just not busy enough (and I'm secretly a spelling nerd who never had a spelling bee at his elementary school).
9) I just thought of something that fits #6 perfectly. AAAAAAAH!

Now, on top of all of that, I've jumped into NANOWRIMO for the first time. Why am I doing this? I have no time. I'll be lucky if I hit 20k by November 30th, much less the goal of 50k. I'm setting myself up to fail, which is exactly what modern educational pedagogy tells me not to do.

But I'm doing it anyway. Because I said so, and I'm an adult. I can eat ice cream three meals a day if I want, and there's nothing you can do about it. I've earned the right to try NANOWRIMO for my first time and fail at it if I feel so inclined.

And I will fail. I'm okay with laying it out there ahead of time, because it's true and there's no sense pretending otherwise. This is not pessimism because it is certain -- I have a 0% chance of winning NANOWRIMO. It's the exact opposite of pessimism, in fact, because I'm giving myself permission to fail, and appreciating the material I will create on my road to failure. Oddly enough, this is a theme that surfaced late in my first draft of LIBV while listening to the well of ideas inside my head.

It's a little book (or maybe a big book. How should I know?) called LUNCH BOX. It's very different from my last two finished novels, even though it's middle grade and very much me at the writing wheel. It's a bit sillier than I AM DRUMS and LIBV, but it also might end up -- dare I say it -- scarier. It has a Calvin and Hobbes meets Wayside School thing going on, and I'm not sure if that's a recipe for success or a recipe for going back to the drawing board on December first. But it has promise, I think.

I'll settle for it being fun. I'm at 5,400 words as of the moment I'm writing this, and at this rate, I will finish 50k sometime between the hare's second and third nap. But at least I'll finish.

I joined NANOWRIMO this year because I win either way. Take that, procrastination! You always were kind of a punk.