Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Okay, so it sounds a little dirty. But it means this: Personal Novel Writing Life. I’ve decided that November 1st marked for me the beginning of PeNoWriLi.

As I’ve revealed to some of you, I am flagrantly flouting the most sacred of NaNoWriMo rules: “Previously written prose is punishable by death.” Well, kill me then: I am working from the draft I wrote for NaNoWriMo last year, my block, if you will. I decided to do this because, as much as I wanted to participate in NaNo, I could not bear to have yet another partially finished draft of something that “has potential.” I want to finish something, goddammit. And if it takes an arbitrary, made-up reason like NaNo for me to start working towards that goal, then so be it. NaNo is a convenient alibi for me to actually be a writer when the business of every day life gives me eleventy-thousand reasons not to be one. So why not PeNoWriLi? If it takes an arbitrary, made-up reason for me to be a working writer, then here it is.

The thing is, I’m not getting any younger. This very realization hit me quite soundly over the weekend when I made the decision that I am applying for grad school in January. That means I have just a year and some change before I am committed to a very large and difficult amount of work, in addition to my full-time job, for the next five years. If I can’t find the time or energy to write right now, how on earth am I going to do it when I have to attend class and write papers? Very simply: I’m not.

So that means I have this next year to finish something. For me (and we all have different measures of success), that means:
  • completing a first draft
  • revising the plot and characters for a second draft
  • revising the lines and words for a third draft
  • proofreading it
  • beginning the process of finding an agent

That’s where I want to be in a year. I’m not going to get there by writing really hard for 30 days. I’m going to get there by writing really hard until I’m done. NaNoWriMo won’t get me there, but PeNoWriLi might.

My NaNoWriMo goal is to churn out 75,000 words by the end of the month. That means 2500 words per day, every day. As of this moment, I’m behind, but who isn’t? I'll consider myself a "winner" if I do that, since I've used a good amount of words from my previous draft (though, as of today, I've diverged from my original plot in such an extreme way that barely any of that first draft will prove useful to me from this point forward). I also estimate that that will put me about 50–75% through the novel I’m writing. Come December first, I plan to make use of NaNoWriMo's momentum and write daily whatever amount of words seems comfortable – 500, 1000, 2500 – whatever will allow me to maintain consistency of output. The bottom line is I don’t want to just hack away at it anymore. I want to publish a book. Lesser people than me have done as much. Why not me, too?

My most recent motivator has been to mock up a cover for Secernere (working title) and a few pages of text into printed format and tack them up to my desk. I’ll never see that book in print unless I write it. So I’ll write it.

Here's to PeNoWriLi.

1 comment:

  1. I love your idea about the book cover. That's a great motivator. Now you've got me thinking about what mine would look like ...

    I kind of want a picture of character's face to hang up next to my computer, so I can ask her, "and what would YOU do next?"