NaNoWriMo Week One in the Rear View

I’ve been really busy this last week, between keeping on task with my NaNoWriMo novel, work, reading for research and pleasure, and trying to maintain my exercise schedule, I haven’t had much time to update the blog. I’m about to sit down and slap today’s word count goal into submission, but I thought I’d offer a little update first.

My NaNo novel is going well, despite minor irrational fears and frustrations when I start to worry I’ve bitten off more than I can chew, or I’m not scientifically educated enough to write about space and terraforming and Artificial Intelligence and the topics therein, but I only let those fears weigh me down a moment before kicking them gently aside and powering forward anyway. I’m not judging this novel, which is a lot harder than it sounds because for the last thirty years of my life I’ve judged just about everything I have written or attempted to write rather harshly, barely giving the majority of my ideas the chance to grow wings and flutter around before I’d shot them down and set them on fire.

The thing I always forget is that the first draft of a novel says absolutely nothing about my merits or abilities as a writer. That first draft is sloppy, grammatically incorrect, raw, and half-formed. It’s a skeletal offering, if you will, that once completed can grow muscle and organ tissue and skin in the wells of my imagination for a few months after I finish while I move onto other things and forget about it for a while. The first draft is little better than an outline; me, as Terry Pratchett was quoted, “telling myself the story.” I’m getting to know the world, the people in that world, their histories and hopes and goals for the world they live in. It’s me coming to terms with whether nor those people even belong in this story, no matter how much I like them.

So, this year’s endeavor into NaNoWriMo has been an interesting experiment with myself, as I let go of the ridiculous amount of control I try to hold over everything I do and tell myself the story. Is there too much information spilling into the pages about things that will never make the final cut? Um, yeah, so much. Are there characters who don’t belong, snooping around in a world they are clearly not meant to be a part of? Totally. Do I care? Right now… not really. All I care about is getting the bulk of what I feel is a pretty interesting story onto the page. I’ll worry about the rest later.

As for what I’m working on, for those curious, it’s an AI-central space opera about an android super soldier who goes against his programming after suffering damage to his neural network, escapes the facility, and hijacks a supply ship to take him back to the mining asteroid where it all began. That’s all I can really tell you right now, because I’m still telling myself the story, and while it’s certainly a challenge, I am having a lot of fun while I write it.

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I hope you’ll remember not to judge yourself too harshly. After all, it’s just a first draft, bare bones, and you’re doing the thing! Go you!

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