Saturday, October 30, 2010


October is nearly gone, and National Novel Writing Month, affectionately and sometimes despairingly called NaNoWriMo by those who flock to the siren call of 50,000 words in 30 days, all shiny-faced and scrubbed clean at the beginning, and hardly fit for civil company or a barn by the end. Yes, I’ve decided to NaNo a book I’ve been working on since last year. Though why, with grad school also on my plate, as well as seeking another part-time job, eludes me.

So 1667 words per day for 30 days. It’s steep, I’ll grant you. People lose their damn minds in November. The writing advice that I’m loving right now is the one-inch window Anne Lamott describes in Bird by Bird. She says to look at your story through a mental viewfinder, describing on the inch you see there. For instance, if I was working on my weird adventure historical erotica story, which is my chosen torturer for November, I’d start by trying to picture a person, or an object, or even use a line of observation or dialogue to look through the lens, then go, “well, what do I see? Okay, candelabra sitting on a damask tea towel in the middle of a brothel window. Well what do the walls look like? Is it dim? What time of day is it? Who’s around?” And before you know it I have naughty English noblemen getting spanked upstairs by a bitter French prostitute as her illegitimate child hides under the stairs. Or, equally, a beautiful young English professor on a treasure hunt following one of the greatest playwrights of Georgian England who never existed all while her mentor lays dying in a hospice. And all through a one-inch window.

So crack those knuckles, rock out on a pot of coffee, and in a candy-fueled sugar coma/frenzy, let NaNoWriMo begin Monday!



Rowenna said...

Awesome post! I love this way of thinking about the scenes you write--through a tiny window. Sometimes I think of it a bit like an academic thesis--weird and dull sounding--but--the idea is that you either start with a large concept and narrow in on a small one, or start with a tiny detail and pan out to the big picture.

Have fun writing! Are you really doing a historical for NaNo? Awesome! If it's eighteenth century and you're scrounging for research/inspiration help (perhaps after the 30 days of crazy) let me know--I've got piles :)

Ax said...

Writing is writing so whether academic thesis or tiny window, its all a way in, and that's all we writers need right? An opportunity.

I am looking for research by the way, NaNo or not, so if you have book recommendations or websites or anything really, I'd be more than happy not to have to wade through all this alone. I've started with Aristocrats by Stella Tillyard since I really like that time, just prior to Jane Austen, and am looking into Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire(?) for inspiration about daily life, thinking, culture stuff. Stuff on academic research and working in archives would also be useful. One time when I should have been more of a nerd. :) So whenever you have time or as the spirit moves ya. And thanks for the offer!