This afternoon I printed my "winning" NaNoWriMo novel from last November for the first time. Using 12 point Bookman Old Style which shortened the 50,000 words to a mere 83 pages, I caught each page as my printer spat it out. My goal tomorrow: read what I wrote last year so I know what I already have and can continue from where I left off. After I printed the partial novel, I expanded it into the Vringa font, still at 12 point, but now I have 107 pages. I fixed the chapter headings to make them uniform: in all caps, bolded, and centered.
My new writing on Sunday (November 1st and therefore the first day of NaNoWriMo) will pick up at the beginning of Chapter Thirteen and go onward. My character has been spinning her wheels for the last eleven months when I left her stranded between two very different modes of worship, her world slowly rolling upside-down, and she doesn't like change in the least. I wouldn't be suprised to find out that she's spent the 11 months since NaNoWriMo 2008 with her head under her pillow -- both literally and figuratively.
Yes, my character has a lot of ME in her, but she also has the qualities of some other women I know. She is stubborn, reluctant to change, intelligent, set in her ways, opinionated, yet she is gentle, creative, kind, shy. Her journey along The Pilgrim Pathway (yes, that's my tentative title, a definite change from the title I used a year ago, A Scholarly Life) will change her dramatically in some ways yet will leave her virtually unchanged in others.
I need to add conflict. I think that I have portrayed her inner conflicts fairly well, but I need to add more conflict -- conflict between people. As a person who runs from conflict myself, it will be interesting to see how Rebecca handles interpersonal conflict as well, especially since she flees from it even more often and more speedily than I do (if that is even possible). But as we writers know, conflict is what keeps a novel going -- that magical, dramatic tension. And I am not sure that I am going to completely resolve Rebecca's inner conflicts by the end of the book so much as push them forward and pull others back in some intriguing ways.
When I wrote about Rebecca Phillips last year, I kind of followed her around blindly, jotting down what I watched her doing. For a novel that I planned so very little (not at all, to be precise), it kept moving forward with a definite motion that seemed to be working. I pray that God will give me that same insight, that same perseverance, that same attention to detail, that same leading onward of a story that is partially mine but mostly hers. Once I finish with this year's NaNoWriMo, I sincerely hope that I will have a complete first draft. I know that much will have to be moved about, restructured, revised, and rewritten, but if I at least have a couple of hundred pages to work with, I think I might be able to make something out of it.
One of my Intermediate Writing students brought up NaNoWriMo in class yesterday plus another student seem really, really interested in doing it as well. I hope that both of them decide to go forward with it -- the numbers today according to NaNoWriMo on Twitter is over 35,000 13-18 year olds and over 100,000 adults around the world who are signed up and ready to start writing their novels. That's cool.
I need to e-mail our writing group here in Pine Valley and remind them of the challenge. I gave them the information and website earlier this month at our monthly meeting, but a reminder would not be amiss, I think. I would love to have a couple of "Write-Ins" at the town library or at the local coffee place or even in the diner. So I'll send out e-mails and post to the blog for our Mountain Empire Creative Arts Council Writers' Workshop.
So tonight and tomorrow I plan to complete The Arrow and The Boomerang for Julie at Brave Writer so she can post them before midnight tomorrow. And I plan to read through what I wrote for last year's NaNoWriMo so I can pick up the story where I left off, ready to write about this middle-aged woman's journey on The Pilgrim Pathway.
Good luck and best blessings to all NaNoWriMo participants this year: Write bravely. Write well. And write 50,000 words, no matter how utterly crappy they seem to you at any stage in the process ... 'cuz' it's gonna happen. Trust me.