How long does it take to discover if you're no good at something? Three days into the 30-day NaNoWriMo challenge I discovered an interesting fact about myself: I'm not cut out to be a speed writer.Twenty-two days have done nothing except substantiate that fact.
This should come as no surprise to those who know me. I'm your typical, garden variety Virgo: shy. reliable, practical, intelligent and analytical. Oh, and did I mention fussy, overcritical, perfectionist and a worrier? These are not the traits of a successful NaNo marathon writer.
I understand the principles of the NaNo. Obviously you have to get something down on the page -- anything -- before you can try and revise it into something polished and publishable. As a journalist I learned to just put a piece of paper in the typewriter (yes, I'm that old) and start typing. Eventually the "good" stuff would start flowing and you could strike out the bad beginning.
But the whole idea, or maybe just the only way to survive, NaNo is to eradicate all thoughts of editing -- self-editing as you write or post-writing editing -- at least until December 1st. There's simply no other way to produce 50,000 words. And I can't wait that long to fix the plot/character/grammar/logic problems that I've already created in the piece. My finger keeps twitching at the DELETE key. It's become an uncontrollable tic.
I didn't want to be considered a quitter, so for days, I've fought my inner editing demons and written...and written...and written. Almost 20,000 words of pure, unadulterated bad prose. Remember that old joke about "there must be a pony in there somewhere?" (If you don't, email me and I'll tell it to you.) Well, I feel that way about what I've written so far -- there must be a mystery in there somewhere, but finding it isn't going to be easy to find amongst the padded descriptions, monstrous background dumps, and rambling characters. And believe me, stream of consciousness dialogue is not pretty.
I once learned a wonderful word: logorrhea. It basically means verbal diarrhea. NaNo has given me a serious case of its close cousin: diarrhea of the keyboard.
To paraphrase Peter Finch in Network: I'M FRUSTRATED AS HELL, AND I'M GOING TO EDIT!