Thanksgiving has always been at our house in the past twelve years. We've got a reasonable amount of space and I guess I whip up a pretty fair feast. Everybody keeps coming back at least. There's always a big build-up as my wife, her sister, and I clean, buy the food, and bring in the extra tables and chairs from the garage. Then the day comes and my wife and I are busy in the morning peeling, chopping, and cooking until the guests arrive. With a flurry of platters and casseroles set out, everyone fills their plates and before I know it, everybody's done, sated, and happy. My sister-in-law, Maria, cleans the kitchen afterwards to my great delight and the next day I put away the extra tables and chairs. Everything goes smooth as clockwork.
Not so NaNo. During the month of November it was like fixing dinner on the fly. This is what would be like if someone had to keep running to the store for ingredients as I cooked and everybody was moving furniture and bustling about the kitchen and house. It was near chaos. I was improvising as I went along and now I have this 50,000 word plus novel, except it's still not a complete novel. I forgot to put one of the casseroles in the oven and I still have all of the ingredients for the pie I never fixed.
What I'm saying is I finished the 50,000 but I have not finished my novel. There's a lot I need to clean up still and a lot that I left out that still needs to be added. In the rush to cross the finishline I forgot some important plot points that now I will have to go back and add in. I haven't looked at my "novel", A DESERT PLACE, since I wrapped things up last Sunday. I doubt whether I will tackle it again until after the holidays.
So I am designating my January to be NaNoFixMo--National Novel Fixing Month. I know I'm not alone in this from what I've been reading from others. I need to go back and read what I did. I'm sure I've forgotten much of it already, although the gist of the story is firm in my head. Then I need to diagram and map out some points that are still problematic. I'd say by the time I am finished I will end up with no less than 80,000 words and whether I finish in January may be wishful thinking.
Many of you are probably much more experienced than I in this novel game so I am wondering how long do you think it will take you to have a finished product from what you started in NaNo? Those of you who just started and didn't reach the 50,000 are you still working on your project or do you plan to later? How many are just going to trash it or shelve it for some future time.
How about non-NaNo'ers? Do you have any projects that you were gung ho about then just stopped working on? I've seen some houses like that around where I live. I suppose they probably met a financial roadblock that has put their project on hold, but I've known people who undertake a big project and then quit not because of lack of money, but because of something else. What causes you to stop a project? Loss of interest? Realization that it was too much for you? Frustration? Anger?
Often we enter into a project with just a dream and no plan to achieve it. Entering NaNo I had a vague plan, but that was my intent. Now I see the importance of plotting out the story, developing the characters, and having a clear sense of time and place. It was fun jumping into it blindly and I think in the end it will be rewarding for me. Do I think that's the best way to write a novel? I don't know yet. I'll have to keep going and see where I end up. What about you--what do you think is the best approach?
And while I'm on the topic of novels and outstanding novelists, make sure you're with me for the next two days. Tomorrow (Tuesday 12/8) I will be reviewing LOST MISSION, the recent novel by award-winning novelist Athol Dickson. This will be followed by an interview with Athol Dickson on Wednesday (12/9). Mr. Dickson had some very interesting things to say about writing novels and about his book LOST MISSION. I hope you will come back for both of these.