|Progress throughout the month: a little hit and miss|
As can been seen above on the Bar Chart of Joy, this year's Nano has not been particularly smooth sailing. In fact, I became severely stranded on three occasions both for pleasant reasons - a trip to Amsterdam, the visit of a friend - and a thoroughly unpleasant one - being struck down by an evil time and energy-guzzling illness. Sabotaged by my own body! It was a bit of a struggle, more so than I anticipated, but I did manage to claw back my word count over the last few days and finally finish - hurrah!
Now, after a few days of hardly thinking about writing at all, I think a kind of debrief is probably due on the experience, for which I've come up with the following:
1) The first draft is complete
Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, I have finished it, just like Joss Whedon told me to. It might be in a complete state, but it's all there, and therefore far easier to work with than a load of blank pages.
2) I have a better grip on the story
I have written this story over several years with months and months going by between bursts of activity. Returning to the plot in such a concentrated way has allowed me to see what works (the settings, for one) and what doesn't (the lack of emotional payoff at the end is currently my biggest concern), and therefore what I need to work on...
3) I have a plan
... Which leads me to the future of the book. I love to organise, and writing is one of those glorious activities that almost always benefits from a healthy dose of planning. It was always inevitable then, that as I was typing furiously to the deadline, my mind would be on the next stage of the process. I already know that the first thing I'm going to amend in the New Year is the opening of the story, which will take place in a completely different location (a wood) and then I'm going to tackle the rewrite chronologically, ie separating out my interlinking 2005/2010 timelines in the hope that I can smooth over all my plot holes and straighten out all my story arcs.
So finishing Nano is not an end - far, far from it. But the point is it's not a beginning either. To quote the mighty Joss once more:
Finishing [...]is first of all truly difficult, and secondly really liberating. Even if it’s not perfect, even if you know you’re gonna have to go back into it, type to the end. You have to have a little closure.Which is why, to myself, and only in relation to the first draft, I think I can say it just this once: