November 15. Exactly halfway through the month. At least fifty thousand words are the target for the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) November event, “Write a novel in a month.” Thirty-two thousand words are behind me, sixty-four percent. The total collective word count for all the participating writers is 1,532,271,964. Time for a toast.
Before anyone (especially me) gets too impressed, I need to put all those words I’ve written in perspective. What happens is that after writing fifteen or twenty thousand words, I’ve forgotten a few key details. Yesterday I wrote a scene with one of my main characters, but every time I wrote his first name — Dan — it bothered me. Why had I originally chosen this name for him? It didn’t fit well with his last name or his personality, but the first rule of NaNoWriMo is not to go back and edit; I just kept moving forward. Last night before I fell asleep I remembered that Dan wasn’t the character’s name in early scenes. Ray was the first name I chose for him. The result is that in three scenes this guy is Ray and in two he’s Dan. He also changed his hairstyle.
One slip-up isn’t serious, but multiply this by at least ten (the reality is probably worse than this), and you’ve got the same person simultaneously in two different cities (keep in mind that I’m not trying to write sci-fi or fantasy), walking a dog, milking a cow, and speaking two different languages.
For these and more serious mistakes I suspect I’ll have to throw out many of my 50,000 words. In fact, when I finished today’s scene it occurred to me that it could all be a pile of crap. But now that doesn’t matter. As challenging as keeping up the pace is, I’m already wondering what I will do once the novel-writing event is over. How will I fill my days? Of course I’ll keep working on the book, but I actually find this daily two thousand word effort as meaningful — with a deadline — as anything I’ve done since I retired.