Kudos to all the brave and energetic souls preparing for this year’s NaNoWriMo. I'm not one of them. Not this year. I participated in one NaNOWriMo and 21 days into it, I hit 50K+ words and decided that if I kept going I’d DIE. I don’t remember most of what I wrote but I know it was bad. Bad! Bad! Bad! It’s funny though how much to the material I've been able to revisit, revise and use in other pieces. Like I tell students ‘It’s ok to write bad’ to start with. When you have material to work with you can fix it later; you cant edit a blank page. And to prove that I'm leading by example, I'm posting this small snippet from my NaNoWriMo piece to show you how truly bad it was. I must have hit a wall and this is what ensued-a conversation between the characters and the writer. It won’t make a lot of sense because the plot line is absent (and sadly always was) but I hope it gives those of you attempting the feat a good laugh and a little encouragement:
The thought This is turning out to be really good! leads suddenly to a new thought and the NaNOWriMo writing goes on:
‘But what isn’t turning out so good is the quality of this writing,’ Melody said.‘I know,’ Jenny said. ‘We should go and talk to Mrs. Gilbert in the library and see how it can be improved.’‘I doubt its possible’ Caroline said. ‘It started off badly and it just got worse.’‘Well, whoever is at the keyboard really has a lot to answer for.’‘Yep. The writer has made us stereotypical and one-dimensional.’‘Why did she always insist on writing about teens? She knows nothing about that.’‘Not any more,’ added Caroline.‘Maybe what she should do is write a story like that. As if the characters are speaking to her from the page and she’s the writer. It has an odd merit to it.’Melody butted in. ‘How much of idiot has she made me look? I can’t think for myself, I can't defend myself. I’m a complete wimp and what physical features do you know about me? Zilch! So much for five senses.’‘God she’s bad hey?’Caroline shouted from the page, ‘hey how about making us more real? You should map us, you idiot. I’m mean, poor old Mel her goes from being sixty to being seventeen and in between she gets to be a porn star and a sex maniac. What the hell is the plot here?’‘There isn’t one,’ the writer typed back defensively. ‘I’m not saying I’m good at this, but I’m trying!’ The writer pouted. ‘Some people won’t even attempt this.’‘Ha! Maybe you shouldn’t have either,’ character one said. The other two characters high-fived her.;Well if you’re so smart, speak to me,’ the writer countered. ‘Tell me who you are? How can I get to know you?’‘Firstly, start with what you know. You’ve been young. You know what it’s like.’The writer scratched her head. It was a long time ago. She came from an age before text messaging. If I wanted to see you later, that’s what I had to do. I had no way of telling you I’d ‘c u l8r’.‘Yeah, you’re hilarious,’ character two said drolly. ‘Look you need to lift your game. What about those MRU things that you go on about?’‘Motivational Reaction Units?’‘Yeah you know, action reaction and visceral responses. All that shit. You write in script mode all the time.’‘I love scripts!’‘This is prose, hell-o!’ interjected character three, ‘You are so bloody frustrating!’Well, I think I write better from a place of experience.‘Then if this is it, you must have had some bad experiences,’ characters one two and three laughed in unison, holding their sides.How’s that?‘Bloody awful.’‘Maybe I should delete it all and start again?’Are you kidding and kill us off? That’s typical. When it gets too hard you give up of go and make a cup of tea, or eat a biscuit or do some housework.’‘You need to commit!’ shouted character three from the page. ‘We’re worth it. Think of us as your kids. You need to get to know us and nurture us.’‘Yeah. Besides, I want to know if that Melody character gets back to being a porn star.’‘Hmm. She’s in her sixties when the story opens. I don’t think it would be a good look.’‘But it could be interesting,’ character one argued. ‘Let face it there’s no subject matter like that around, is there?’ She turned to character two who shrugged.The writer stopped typing. Instead she drummed her finger s on the desk. ‘It’s too bloody hard.’‘We know!’ chorused the characters.‘And what about me?’ A strident voice piped up.The three characters looked around. ‘Who said that?’‘Down her, over here, under there, up here!’ The voice gave confusing direction, which strained the characters necks.‘Whose IS that?’‘I’m the setting! I’m as dull as a blank page.’‘Hey, that not fair,’ said the writer. ‘I've devoted lots of words to you.’‘Yeah. Dumb one like she was in the office. At the school.That’s not setting that’s just putting something in.’‘I could ignore you all together, which frankly I’m tempted to do at his stage. I've already got characters screaming at me for attention,’ said the writer.‘Don't forget me,’ pipped up a thin voice.The writer groaned. ‘Now what?’‘I’m plot and I need sustenance.’‘Bloody hell. How much energy do you guys think I have?’How much do you think the readers will have if they are stuck with this drivel? ‘They’ll never get past Melody putting lipstick on her mouth. No offence Melody character.’ All three characters said ‘none taken’ and looked at one another.‘See?’ character one said stepping forward, ‘we’re indistinguishable from one another. We aren’t finely drawn were just slapped on and we’re all the same except for names.’ The other characters agreed by pouting.‘Never mind that!’ yelled setting again. ‘I’m butt naked and I need a bit of dressing.’‘That pointless if I’m not sorted,’ said plot.‘What do you think?’ Plot turned to dialogue.‘Hey, I think I’m doing really well. I got most of the action. Can't complain.’‘See? I’m okay at dialogue,’ the writer said, buoyed by the support.‘Not necessarily, said character one. You're just dumping words there and they have nothing to do with each of us.’‘What does those mean?’‘We all sound the bloody same. Our words are interchangeable. And don't even start me not the way the parent characters and teachers speak. What did you go to school in the sixties?‘As a matter of fact I did. And this bit is set in the sixties so it works.’‘Lazy cow!’ Chorused the characters.‘What about me? screamed Setting again. I’m still waiting for my clothes!’
As I said…Truly, sadly, deeply bad but one helluva lot of fun. Good luck all.