I have subpar compartmentalization skills at best. This means that while braving the process of divorce, readying my house to sell and place on the market, and now, finally, having a sales agreement, my attention was off my novel for several months resulting in large chunks of my story escaping my brain and living only in my Scrivener writing software on my laptop. Yes, that means I forgot parts of my novel.
Aren’t I the one who created it? Yes. Shouldn’t that mean I remember every detail? Not so much.
I wrote the majority of my novel-in-progress during NaNoWriMo last November. The 50,000 word requirement to “win” that online competition instills a feverish pace causing writers to enter a parallel world— fingers type and sentences form, but much of the information is kept in short term memory. I don’t recommend cognitively storing information it this area of the brain if there’s a chance you’ll dismantle your life a couple months later.
Some writers are born with a will of iron— they write through wars, famine, and any crisis that falls their way. They even write through maneuvering the dating world, but that’s a different post altogether. Know that I admire them and hope to cultivate those skills one day, but for now, I scramble in the face of adversity, akin to a newborn fawn taking first steps on slick ice that some depraved entity keeps spraying with water. Life has become my personal Zamboni machine.
My only choice was to invest time rereading the 200 pages I’d written while trying my hardest not to edit the colossal errors I knew I would encounter. This wasn’t the time for editing. This was the time for refreshing my memory and, most importantly, finding a place to pick up and start writing again.
Something to know about my writing style— I prescribe to the mind dump first, edit later school of thought. Rereading my mental vomit, way before I was ready to, was not going to be pretty. First drafts suck in general, but a NaNo first draft may be the epitome of bad first drafts. During NaNo, there is only go, go, go, not reread and make it sound coherent. Later comes fear when a writer has to go back and read what has been lost to the mania of counting words. Some writers never go back and reread, they stick it in the cobwebby recesses of a desk drawer and forget it exists. To read it would be too painful.
Up until page 58 I was ready to find the nearest bridge and jump off. I contemplated building one myself if I couldn’t find one tall enough– surely that would be less time consuming than fixing the atrocity I was reading. Then I remembered— I had switched from third person to first person after the first 6000 words, only going back to edit technicalities such as pronouns. That provided the perfect excuse for the terrible writing. Hey, any excuse to save my sanity, it was enough for me to push through. The post page 58 writing wasn’t perfect, but it started to be tolerable. By a hair.
Then something amazing happened. Somewhere along the way, scenes started to come to life, enough to grab my attention and continue reading. I forgot to edit large sections, which I wasn’t suppose to be doing anyhow, but that says something when you’re a writer. Paragraphs appeared that I didn’t recall writing– solid material I know I can sculpt into decent literature when I finish the first draft. I was pulled in by the story. A story I wrote.
I’m still working my way through the draft, there are major plot holes, the level of language editing required may be epic, but I think there is something intangible there. Bones. It has good bones. Knowing a narrative support system somehow developed in the word production frenzy of NaNo gives me hope and a place to start building. At this point, that’s good enough for me. For now.