Expectations And Realism

Expectations And Realism

I passed 25k for NaNoWriMo this morning. I probably should have been working on one of the two essays due within the next week, but I decided to start the day with some writing, and I enjoyed doing it. I also enjoyed reaching that milestone, even though a couple of years ago that would have been disappointing.

The problem with having been a very very fast writer (before I had university to get in the way, and wrist problems to slow down my typing) is that I keep trying to measure up against the person I was a few years ago. Then, I was capable of writing 50k in three or four days, and continuing to write for the rest of the month. Then, it was slow if I didn’t hit 25k within the first weekend of NaNoWriMo, and here I am on day nine.

I’m ahead of target, but part of me still feels like I’m behind.

I have to consciously decide to be proud of this. And I am. It’s a victory over my workload and my lack of inspiration. It’s the first 25k of new material that I’ve written in a horribly long time. It’s made up of short stories, which aren’t my strong point, so it’s a chance for me to explore a new medium and try out different styles of writing. Every thousand words I write is a victory in a way that maybe they wouldn’t have been a couple of years ago.

That’s also partly because novels allow for word-padding and filler scenes where nothing really happens, but short stories are far tauter creatures. I know that when I go back and edit these stories, I’ll probably cut quite a bit, trim them and make them neater. The unedited ones will stay up on Wattpad, though.

Some of these stories, I’m proud of. There’s one, Never So Red, that didn’t go at all in the direction I was expecting, and as a result it’s inconsistent and will need more editing than the others. But I really enjoyed how it came out, even so. I’m writing True Love Of Mine in second person, which I’ve never done before, and it’s a rewarding experience to try something a bit different but know that I’m not committing to it for long.

Some of them, I’m less proud of. Rose and Briar was an interpretation of Barbry Allen, and while it wasn’t a bad story, I felt it was poorly written even by my NaNo standards, and decided not to post it on Wattpad because I didn’t think it was good enough. Why did that happen? I’m not sure. Maybe it was the writing style, or the fact that I didn’t think it through before I started. I’ll go back and rewrite it, because it had potential, but ultimately it didn’t live up to it.

I still wrote it, though. A short story. Beginning, middle, end. I’m proud of how comfortable I’ve become with this form, even though I sometimes catch myself thinking, “This could make a really interesting novel.” I’m trying to make sure that just because these aren’t long, doesn’t mean they’ve got no story. They’re not vignettes or snapshots, so while the characters may have backstory and futurestory or whatever the word is, they also develop and experience things within the 3k-5k I’ve taken to explore them.

No, I haven’t beaten any of my NaNoWriMo records (except that I’ve written every day so far even though one day was less than 200 words, and I’m not sure I’ve managed that in the past). I haven’t wowed anyone with my ridiculous speed. I haven’t made it to any write-ins.

But I’ve produced something that I’m proud of, and I believe now that I can hit 50k. Which, you know, is what this thing is all about. I’ve never doubted it in the past, but this year I did. Not anymore. I’m on a roll. I’m also about to run out of songs to adapt, so if anyone has any suggestions, leave them in the comments.

And I’ll finish by linking to the stories I’ve written so far, so that you can read them if you wish.

Folk Stories:

  1. Fear Me Not — based on Tam Lin, I wrote this before NaNoWriMo began, so it has an advantage over the others in terms of how much time I spent on it.
  2. The Seventh One — based on The Outlandish Knight, I got off to a good start with the month by finishing this before I actually went to bed in the early hours of November 1st.
  3. My Broadsword And A Pistol Too — based on Geordie, this one proved more difficult to write than the one before it, but I might just not have been in the right mood at the time.
  4. Fare Thee Well — based on Sweet William’s Ghost, this one didn’t come out entirely as I’d hoped, because its sci-fi setting was a bit too vague to really play into the story. In edits, I’d like to emphasise that element of it.
  5. Rose And Briar — based on Barbry Allen, I just didn’t like this one enough to post it. I’ll edit it one day.
  6. Ringing You To Hell — based on False Knight On The Road, I gave this one a more modern setting and included a leather-jacket-clad ghosthunter, which made it fun to write. I think I strayed more from the original song, but there was enough of it to underpin the story and make it worth writing!
  7. Never So Red — based on How Come That Blood, this is marked ‘mature’ on Wattpad because of the violence and also some bad language (sorry, Mum). It didn’t go in the direction I’d planned: my vet-turned-schoolteacher character turned into a crowbar-wielding badass within the space of two thousand words, but there we go. When I edit it, I’ll hopefully make it a bit more consistent….
  8. True Love Of Mine — based on Scarborough Fair, this is a more fantastical, fairytale-esque retelling of a song that a lot of people will know. I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m really enjoying playing around with second person, and I just hope I can do the story justice within the word limit. I may need to up my self-regulated limit to 6,000 words from 5, though. Who knows?

Have you lived up to or failed to meet any of your expectations for yourself lately? Any writing happening, or is it all huddling inside away from the freezing cold November air (or warm November air if you live in bizarre alternate worlds like Australia, I guess)?

2 thoughts on “Expectations And Realism

  1. The comparison thing I why I stopped doing NaNo, then stopped counting words altogether. For getting a first draft roughed out, counting words is a very useful motivator. But for becoming a better published author, volume isn’t nearly as important as a gestalt of quality, speed, and marketing.

    So, my November is much the same as the previous ten months of this year: write, edit, polish, and publish in various proportions.

    1. Yeah. I’m rarely comparing myself to other people, so it doesn’t matter so much if it’s NaNo or just a random month, but I do tend to get fixated on numbers — which is how I end up being ultra-competitive against myself and injuring my wrists. Damn it, 2013!Miriam. Sort your life out.

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