Theta Pearl Whitman, I am tired of you. This will be my last NaNoWriMo with you as my main character, and I am intersted to move on to other characters. For four years now, I have lived with this same cast, give or take a couple of characters. It’s interesting—they’re like a family at this point. Three novels I have written with them, or almost. And I know I have years to enjoy them on rewrites, research, editing, and fleshing out. But the heart of the novel—the dust into which we breathed life, which then took on the living body that it is—that part will be done in less than 24 hours. And that kinda makes me sad.
An era will be ended. The era of banging out my first books, my precious baby trilogy, during three wild National Novel Writing Months. Sure, I’ve word-padded; sure, I’ll have to come back and fill in the holes and perfect. But three times now, I have pulled the lever, and had lightning strike. Three times now, the monster has sat up, and I have screamed, “It’s alive!”
I can spend the rest of my life perfecting these books, or rush them out the door, misshapen but publishable. Most likely what I will do is somewhere in between the two. But the fact is, it is time to edit and perfect the creations, the monsters I have brought to life. The first spark—the moment they first sat up—will, this time tomorrow, be behind me.
The birth will be over. I will be grooming and growing them. Preparing for the creation of the next book, of which I am throrughly intimidated. But the first three will alaways be special, if for no other reason than because they are the three books I was born to write. All else is pleasure.
I have barely even begun to do them justice, I know. The cumulative six months or so I have spent planning and writing the bits that I have written, barely stack up to the years in which I will have to finish them. But I will be in a completely different phase then, with its own pleasures of novel gutting and renovation. But revamping something that already exists is totally different from bringing it into being out of nothing.
If I could think of anything else to say, I would write it. That is the trouble with trying to punch the whole NaNo thing out in the last weekend. Trying to squeeze fiction out of yourself like toothpaste from a tube has its downside. For one thing, if an idea is stupid or fucks you up, you have no time to go back and fix it, or even think of a good save. You have to just keep going, even if it means changing topics entirely within one sentence, grammar be damned.
It’s not even the typing, or the fatigue in your back or eyes or fingers. It is the total dearth of ideas after a certain number of hours. When you are away from your writing, there is a golden window of hours or days that you can stay away from it. Take too long, and you lose the momentum, the thread…the spell gets broken. That is a well documented risk. But there is a converse risk. If you do not take any time away from your writing at all—if you attempt to do what I am doing, and not even take longer than ten minute breaks, for hours and hours, day after day, you run out of thoughts. Not words, not ideas, but thoughts themselves. Your brain just absolutely stops having any juice in it.
I can hear my imagination wheezing.