All right. I'll come back.
I've been avoiding the blog recently because, well, I just didn't really feel like it. NaNo went south for me (and not in the good, "hey it's warmer down here" way, more like the "this book belongs in a basement somewhere, gathering dust and being eaten by rodents" kinda way). Yes, yes, I know, with NaNo, you're supposed to write badly, that's the point, blah blah blah.
It wasn't the writing itself that was bothering me. It was the plot. Dear lord, the plot. With such a short span of time in which to create it (I'm not an outliner, and never will be), I turned in desperation to overplayed cliches, done-to-death tropes, and plot twists that even a blind man could see coming from a mile away in a thick fog. As I told my husband, "I think I liked this novel better when Dean Koontz wrote it in 1995."*
Bad writing, I can fix. A hopelessly terrible plot...not so much. That would pretty much require scrapping 90% of the novel, and the very idea of putting in all that work only to do it all over again...bah.
My plotting process, such as it is, cannot be successfully completed in 30 days. I need at least six months. I don't know exactly how things work in the cobweb-strewn attic that is my brain, but when I let it do its thing, everything falls into place. If I give myself time to let my subconscious work, to put all the pieces into place without any real conscious effort on my part, then it does the job. Or at least, it makes a somewhat coherent plot structure that uses all the elements I tossed into the first 3/4 of the novel for just that sake. I can't necessarily say it's truly successful, since I remain, as I like to put it, gloriously unpublished.
Example: With Grim Light, a novel I was never sure I could complete from the very beginning, I reached a point of true despair about two days before I finished the book. I looked at everything I'd written so far and saw no way in which to resolve it all, no way for my heroine to get out alive. still truly human, and somewhat happy. No. Way. Whatsoever. So I set the book aside for a few days, struggling with the idea that it may not actually get finished. I didn't wrack my brain, didn't brainstorm--none of that. I just set it aside and brooded.
Then it happened. I sat back down to write, determined to give it my all, and finished the book in one night. I like to use the cooking metaphor: If I let everything simmer for a while on low heat, I get a (to me, at least) wonderful resolution with a few twists and turns that even I didn't see coming. But NaNo...NaNo is like broiling or microwaving. Everything happens very quickly, and there's no time for all the elements to coalesce into a delicious whole.
That's right, people. I'm a freaking Crock Pot.
Anyhow, so, that's that. I will eventually come back to that novel and try again, but it needs some time to sit by itself in the corner and think about what it's done. Then, when it's ready to apologize, maybe we'll talk.
In the meantime, I'm now in the editing and revision stages for Grim Light. Yesterday, I found a massive plot hole--okay, more like an epic failure of logic on my part--that I'm still trying to fix. As a whole, I feel the book will take more than one serious pass to get it to where I want it, but that's nothing new. I hope to be querying by April, though. I'm going to throw myself into this with everything I've got. Because I'm chomping at the bit to start on my next idea, which will be somewhat of a departure for me in terms of setting, theme, and voice. I'm projecting that this novel will take about two years from first page to final edit. It's going to be tricky, but I love the idea and I can't wait to get started.
In a future post, maybe even today, look for website and book recommendations for editing and revising. This should, I hope, be especially helpful to the first time NaNo-ers out there. I know one in particular that I promised this information to, and hopefully others will benefit from it as well.
Because that's what I'm here for, folks. Just here to help. And, you know, whine. It's a strange mixture.
*Don't get me wrong, I'm a big Koontz fan from way back. It's more the "1995" part that is the insult.
If you don't feel that you are possibly on the edge of humiliating yourself, of losing control of the whole thing, then possibly what you are doing isn't very vital. If you don't feel like you are writing somewhat over your head, why do it? If you don't have some doubt of your authority to tell this story, then you are not trying to tell enough. --John Irving