I've put myself in for NaNoWriMo this year. Very foolishly. I hadn't realised that NaNoWriMo has local groups, and you can recruit buddies. My nearest local group meets in a pub called The Cyclist on Brighton Station. (Is Brighton the only place to have a pub called the Cyclist?) I don't know if I'm going to join any of these events, because I'm worried that I will be The Oldest Inhabitant. The NaNoWriMo crowd seems to include a great many American teenagers, writing fantasy and sci-fi.
As for me, I'm writing historical fiction - a novel called 'Brothers at War', which centres on two brothers - Henri and Michel Lacombe and a Jewish girl, Danielle Schneider. Why? Well, it all started when I was walking in the countryside near our old French house and thinking how peaceful it was. It occurred to me to wonder what it was like during the war. This part of France was nominally unoccupied until 1943 and I wondered whether it was possible to live a normal life, if you kept your head down. I think the answer is that it would have got harder and nastier as time went by. Out of this came the idea of two brothers, one who joins the Resistance and the other who goes stolidly on, farming.
So I got up at 6.00am this morning and wrote my first scene. It only came to 730 words. Since then, I've written another short scene and started a third. I've still only written 1377 words. I might manage more this evening, but I'm slow. Was this ever a good idea?
NaNoWriMo NaJoPoMo 2nd November.
I've been wondering about this speed writing business. I find it very hard to do, because I want to go back and edit. However, I can see the advantages. I've sometimes felt blocked from writing at all because I want to do it properly. If you are presented with a ridiculous deadline, like writing 50,000 words in 30 days, you have to discard all that stuff about style, forget about planning scenes and just write. It's a kind of liberation.
And yet, I am aware that I'm generating masses of rubbish. What do I do when I get to the end of November? Do I go back and rework it all? Or do I just scrap it? And decide to do something easier, like cooking.
One of my problems is one of research. I've already read a number of novels set during World War ll. I recommend Irene Nemirovsky's La Suite Francaise'. Also a number of serious factual books, like Robert Gildea's Fighters in the Shadows. All the same, I have too many questions of fact. I don't have time to do any research at the moment, so I need to discard all these worries and just write.
By the way, I wrote 1903 words yesterday and 1878 today. So I'm doing all right.NanoWriMoNaJoPoMo 3rd November
I didn't get up at 6.00am today. I was just too comfortable in bed. Nevertheless, I wrote 1750 words, bringing my total to over 5,000.
Still I must not get into the habit of editing. I did it today. I wrote three short scenes but was still under my daily target of 1667 words. I felt my three scenes were very thin and each one deserved to be longer. So, instead of blazing ahead and starting my next chapter, I went back and added all sorts of bits of description. Is this the way to do it? I don't know.NaNoWriMoNaJoPoMo
It rained all afternoon today. which gave me an excuse to sit at a computer and write. I managed over 1700 words again. I seem to be developing a certain consistency.
As for the story, it's beginning to develop. My protagonist Michel Lacombe is with the French army as it is driven south by the Germans. (Which is why I was trying to read military history in French.) His brother Henri, who gets an exemption from service to run the family farm is trying to chat up Danielle Scneider, the Jewish girl Michel loves. What happens next? That's tomorrow's instalment.NaNoWriMoNaJoPoMo 5th November
I managed 1745 words today. I have an idea what I want to do in a chapter and set out to write it. However, when I get to the end of my planned chapter, I haven't done enough words for my day. So I go back and expand scenes, adding bits of description and inventing wildly.I'm doing a chapter a day, but some of my chapters throw together things that don't belong together.
Today, I've married Michel and Danielle off. You might think that is a happy end but, of course, this is wartime and anything could happen.