Monday, November 28, 2011

There's a PE teacher in my head, and it's writing related.

Only three days left in NaNo, and I'm pretty sure I'm not going to make the goal. This is not a whine, but an observation. Right now, before today's session, I am at 43833 words, and if I write 2056 words per day for the next three days, I'll sneak in under the wire. Do I see that happening? To be totally honest, no, I don't. What I've learned the most from this year's NaNo is that I do best when I keep to my process. Blorch first, then highlighters, sticky notes and numbered scenes, then outline, then flesh. Assemble story notebook with sections for hero, heroine, villain if needed, history and plot. Images of important things. Soundtracks.

That's what I did last year, and I won. That month spent in Georgian England with Slate and Melanie, two wounded souls with tragic pasts, who find wholeness and healing in each other, and Master, the only villain I've created so far who made me have to get up and walk away from the keyboard because he creeped me out too much, flew by. I still have the notebook at the ready, and as soon as I get the current ms polished and making its rounds, they're up next for front burner treatment.

This year, well, not so much. It's not that I don't like Tamsen and Alec, because I do. It's that I don't know them well enough to tell their story yet, so it's like trying to give a guided tour of a place I've never been to myself. Sure, I had a quick look at the brochure; I know that Tamsen tells far more than she thinks she does by the rings she wears on all fingers, I can see the rolling swagger of her walk and I know that she and Alec are destined to spend their lives together on the high seas in a matter more lawful than she might choose and more risky than he might pick on his own. I do know that they are each other's perfect mate in the nautical as well as romantic sense. I know Tamsen's parents, Cornelis and Lydia, are what I envision as living their happily ever after...and after. I know what a pirate ship is. I know what Port Royal is, and the events of the climactic earthquake...keep eyes peeled for an Unusual Historicals blog post on that for November 30th.

I know the events of the story, and I can pound out the plot points (and dear bullet points, how I miss you with the heat of a thousand suns) but how the romance develops? No, I don't know that yet. I have to live it along with them. With the large amount of words (and I will be thrilled to go back to counting pages in December) left to write and the short amount of time, what keeps me from throwing in the towel and sparing myself the misery? My high school PE teacher, Diane Nappier.

High school was not my favorite part of life, and PE was pretty much tied with math as most dreaded course, as I was not built for either one. Ms. Nappier came at her job with all the passion of someone who's found their calling, and I admired her for that. Though I lagged badly at the lone cross country run our class attempted, I still remember Ms. Nappier pointing something important out to the miserable group of us struggling in the back; the finish line was in sight, and we weren't allowed to quit if we could see the finish line. We could pace ourselves, we could walk if we had to -I did- but once we could see the finish line, quitting was no longer an option.

Every time I think about hitting the delete key and settling into a comfy chair with my e-reader or selections from my TBR shelf, it's Ms. Nappier's voice I hear in my head, and I keep on going. Can't quit when the finish line is right in front of me, no matter how far it seems.


Anonymous said...

I have to agree with your PE teacher. NaNo ins't about writing a polished piece, it's about banging out the novel. You can always go back and edit it later. Even writing trash is better than not writing at all. You can't edit a blank page. Write it and then go back in and edit, tweek and polish. The finish line is in sight and I know, you can do this. So, I will be a cheerleader here and say, Go Anna! Go Anna! Type, type, type. You can do it! Yeah!
Gerri Brousseau

Anna Carrasco Bowling said...

Thanks, Gerri. That's the same advice I often give other writers - we can edit bad, but we can't edit blank.

What I'm banging out now isn't even close to readable and I'm not going for readable at this point. If I come back to this story at some point (and I love pirates, so yeah, likely) I may very well start from scratch, but for now, it is what it is.

Cheerleading is always appreciated.
At 44371 now, and counting.