So the last month has seen a real boost to my writing confidence, largely by not only getting a piece of writing commissioned for money like a grown up, but also by getting the piece in question finished on time without any major tantrums and being quite happy with the way it turned out.
So, as it’s getting cold out there, and the attraction of sitting in the shed with my hands in buckets of plaster in winter temperatures seems to be vanishing, I thought I’d give NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitated) a go.
Of course my history on these writing challenges is not great; I fell out of the 100 days project after a piffling two weeks due to a combination of busyness, laziness, general winter malaise and a calamitous collapse of confidence. So why do I think NaNoWriMo will be any different?
Well, I suppose the freedom of it, for a start. One of the things that kiboshed me on the 100 days project was the need to keep things concise, never my forte, and I always felt vaguely unsatisfied with everything I wrote – there seemed to be so much more to say about each work of art I was looking at and the result was that, to my art history and theory drenched eyes, everything seemed pretty glib and lightweight. With hindsight though, I think the pieces that I did write aren’t bad really, they were right for what I was doing, they got across some of my passion for the subject without disappearing to much into the realms of academic psychobable, I think I was just too close to them at the time.
A novel though I think is a less focussed activity, without the need to finish a coherent piece each day I’m hoping that I’ll find the experience provokes less agonising over editing, beating myself up for leaving vital things out and generally being a neurotic idiot. (Okay that last one is probably a bit of a wish too far, but hope springs eternal).
There’s also the issue of expectations. Following my last disaster, I know this isn’t going to be easy, and that’s exciting and terrifying in equal measures. Characteristically I’m not making it easy for myself either, while other more experienced, and sane, WriMos are carfeully marking up plot outlines, doing the Snowflake method and all manner of tried and tested approaches, I have a beginning and an end and no idea how I’m going to get from one to the other except for a Venn Diagram of where the various characters sit within the two colliding universes that make up my conceptual map of how the whole thing might fit together. In a way it’s not that different to my approach to making art, I don’t like to be too prepared, the making of a piece provokes new ideas and for me creativity is always as much about the journey as it is the final result. In a way I want to be as surprised at the way the story unfolds as my characters and I’m even considering introducing various means of adding a random dimension to the plotting that’s beyond my control, just to keep myself on my toes.
So here we go, the goal of 50,000 words awaits and sloshing around my head are various narrative threads concerning multi-dimensional gods, a virtual reality that alters human perception, The Empty Men (who are going to be quite, quite horrid), a sentient chemical language, hallucinogenic viruses, a black glass planet and the end of all universes – oh and course there’ll be some art crowbarrred in there somewhere.
Hello NaNoWriMo, goodbye sanity.