Maybe it was the fact that I was unemployed with time to kill. Maybe it was the pending doom of the Mayan apocalypse breathing down my neck, and knowing there was nothing to fear since we would all be dead in a matter of weeks.
But NaNoWriMo 2012 was the single most successful attempt I ever made at 50,000 words. I say attempt because as you must know by now I haven’t reached the peak of that particular Everest yet.
20,013 handwritten words in my plain little college ruled notebook. Which made for roughly five completed scenes with some floating paragraphs I didn’t know what to do with. Every so often I go back and try and read my almost illegible cursive scribbles and I am in awe that the story still holds up.
This tells me that this particular story is still with me and that one day when I finally finish the story that is currently choking my creative flow I am sure I will pick it back up for a reboot.
This story was called
Beyond Life: inspired by the urban legend of Edwin Katskee. A proctologist who died from an overdose of cocaine while trying to document the symptoms and effects in his death diary, which was really just the walls of his office. Sadly it was concluded after his death that his findings were of no use to the medical community.
The base of my story goes that a mad scientist is trying to uncover proof of life after death, and as part of his research nearly kills his own daughter. While he is killed and his daughter successfully rescued, years later the case resurfaces after a paranoid man seeks more information about what happens after death.
After contacting the billionaire who inadvertently funded the mad man, this paranoid guy finds the daughter and they try to follow her father’s clues to find some closure for them both.
It was like nothing I’d ever written before. Not as far as genre or character or story at all. But in that same vein, it is probably the truest story to myself that I have every written to that point. It put me on the new trend of writing more from the heart and less from whatever I thought would make a good story.
It actually was so good an idea that I was chosen initially for the 30 Covers in 30 Days contest as you can see here.
The reason I write about this, on the eve of April’s Camp NaNoWriMo, is to echo the sentiments of the organization itself. Write with fearless abandon. Quantity over quality. And my own personal mantra, you can’t edit what you haven’t written.
I recently read a quote in one of those kitschy gift books at Barnes and Noble that said nothing kills a writer more than knowing too much about his craft. As far as your first draft goes, the rules do not apply. Structure, character, dialogue and grammar all go out the window. You’re just starting to lay a foundation that you will build on with each pass.
That was why I was so successful with my 2012 novel because I just let the story come out without any expectation or demand. I didn’t worry if it was good or if it had a point and reason to exist. I detached all my personal emotions from writing and managed to truly connect to the story rather than the writing of it.
I still struggle with this, mostly because the novel I am writing now is the story. My opus if you will. I have so much emotion and self-image wrapped up in this one long tale that I constantly fight with myself about how it looks on paper. Then I get stuck in one paragraph until I edit it out of existence. Not at all productive.
So I will say to you, just write. Period. No exceptions.