#NaNoWriMo: Biting and Sucking are fun, Oooh yeah.

i bite

Just a quick post today. By tomorrow, you’re going to actually know where the story is going for, like, the first time, and we’re going to talk about that, but for today? Quick post.

You’re writing crap.

Yes, you’re biting that elephant to death, but in another very real way you are, as the kids say, “biting it.”

And that’s okay. There’s a freedom and joy in the first draft, because the stuff you’re writing, you’re writing for YOU, and if it sounds horrible the second time you read it, that’s fine, because at least during the process of getting it down on paper, it was awesome.

It brought you joy.

It was play, and sometimes the result of play is dirt and stained clothes and sand in your bathing suit area that will take a week to get out.

We have a lot of sand in our bathing suit area right now, don’t we?

So… let’s see it! (Not the bathing suit area. Eww.) Hop into the comments and trot out the most overwritten chunk of text you’ve dumped on the screen so far. I wanna see!

And, just to prime the well, here’s one of MANY POSSIBLE EXAMPLES from Adrift.

The Drift — what little of it I could see of from our vantage point — was the same as I remember: a vast patchwork quilt of mismatched metal; multi-millennia-deep piles of ships welded into a moon-sized satellite that predates any written history to which anyone from Caliban has access. It’s unsteady orbit – the source of its name – circled an otherwise unremarkable star on the border between what the Concordant Navy called ‘controlled space’ and the Remnants; a location that attracted any number of unsavory Remnant species, vagabonds, vagrants, traders, beggers, mercenaries, killers, crime lords, and those too unlucky to get away from them. It was a huge, dead, beast’s carcass infested throughout by millions of parasites and scavengers.

I picked this paragraph at random.

Just… for fun… try to count the times I switch between present and past tense. And forget about all the needless exposition. Sweet jumpin’ Jesus.

In edits, that paragraph is going to be like… one sentence.

But right now, it’s WORD COUNT, baby, and more importantly, I had fun writing it.

I had fun.

Writing for a living is a fine and good thing (in one way or another, that’s what I do, even at the day job), but the key thing to remember is we love this.

And it’s fun.

And we get to do it all month long.

Seriously: I am so fucking happy right now.

Even when I read that paragraph.

9 Replies to “#NaNoWriMo: Biting and Sucking are fun, Oooh yeah.”

  1. Wow. I get to be the first, after all the NaNoWriMoRTLuv?

    Um …

    My body was hurled along the direction of the bullet. Though the round was quite large — .50 BMG being favored for snipers in the modern era — the damage done by the hole it made was itself minimal compared to that of the shockwave of its passage through the internal tissues. The adult human brain weighs about three pounds. I liked to think mine weighed a bit more, of course, but only a small fraction was blown out the hole on the right side of my skull, to land in the lap of an assistant to the Deputy Mayor for Community Development. The rest, instead, was frapeed into something the consistency of cottage cheese, as anyone who did an autopsy after the incident would discover.

    Of a mercy, it’s the 8th paragraph in the story. So hopefully it’s uphill from there.

    1. Understand where you’re coming from on it, Chuck.

      At least I think I do.

      From where I’m sitting, it looks to me like you’re taking it like serious work, but still having fun. That’s entirely good.

      And also, you try to minimize the horrible blocks of TLDR exposition. Also good. You’ve clearly (and very enjoyably from my point of view) accumulated those skills.

      I see so many people trying their hand at it, though, who worry that if everything they write isn’t a perfect gem, that they themselves are terrible.

      So they fuss and fret and eventually none of it’s fun anymore.

      And I guess I think it should almost always be fun, else why do it?

      I take this same stance on my day job, to be clear, so this isn’t me being disingenuous or over-precious or having another standard for “the art of writing” vs “the job of writing. I just think it’s important to remember that it’s supposed to be fun.

      (but yeah, I kinda figured you’d see it another way ;)

      1. Rereading what I just said, I realized that the stupid “it” in the last sentence makes it look like I’m saying “I figured you wouldn’t think writing should be fun.”

        That is not at all what I meant. I’d be talking complete bullshit if I even implied that.

        So, clarification: that’s not what I was saying.

      2. That’s exactly it. Writers should enjoy the writing. Work is best when you enjoy it, whether you’re a janitor or a rocket scientist. Or a rocket janitor.

        I usually aim for the middle ground on first drafts — I know it’s not going to be perfect, but I aim for a solid B to B+ range. Hell, I’m going to go through five drafts anyway (if the latest novel and screenplay are any indicators) — but if my first draft is littered with lots of little problems, I’m looking at six or seven drafts. Further, the little issues take a lot lot lot of time to go back and fix.

        So, for me, it’s a matter of economizing the process. Fixing small errors now — largely by making sure they don’t happen in the first place — actually saves me a shit-ton of time on the back end.

        Also, from a professional standpoint, while the big picture is to enjoy the writing and to love the work, it’s also good not to get overfocused on one’s pleasure factor. Sometimes, writers have bad days. I don’t love those days. I don’t love writing on those days.

        Often, though, I love the writing I *do* on those days. Maybe not that day. Maybe a week later, or a month. If I concentrated too much on how much I enjoyed it, I might not have gotten it done in the first place.

        So, for me, writing is about satisfaction and long-term enjoyment rather than the pleasure factor of ass-in-chair. It’s marathon-esque that way. During the long run, you might be ready to quit, ready to run headlong into a tree to make it end. But you push, and you feel awesome for finishing when the day is done.

        — c.

        1. I am totally going to write a post about the little things you can do to have the end product suck less. Thank you for giving me that idea.

          And definitely also about the marathon factor and the days you don’t want to write. That’s a bit later.

          I have read the (good!) points you’ve made against the stated goals of NaNoWriMo, but I’m glad you’re chiming in on these posts, because I think that there’s a lot folks can learn about the work during the nano-ing stuff, and you’re insight is, if you’ll pardon me, fucking gold.

          1. My insight is nothing more than me either making things up as I go, or me reiterating things that I’ve banged my head into too many times for it to not have left a big ol’ bruise.


            But thanks, either way.

            — c.

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