And so, it is complete. I have defeated NaNoWriMo for only the second time in my life. Yesterday I rather fittingly decided to hunker down at the same Panera Bread where I beat it a day early all the way back in 2008, though this was one of the few times when I could have done so over the past few years – I’ve been all over the place since then. Last November found me in Colombia, the several before that found me in Central Illinois as a reporter. The very first one I defeated happened just as Barack Obama won election to the presidency the first time, and now here we are miles into his second term.

I have a few observations about this go-round. Firstly, I feel okay about what it is I wrote. I have the distinct feeling some things will ultimately be done away with, but I also feel as if the greater majority will remain. This writing also helped me get through a deeply muddy time in the book, when literally every character is moving in concert and it becomes difficult to keep them all straight. That is going to be a major difficulty moving forward, but it’s also important that it be done: The story is partly one of a town, and not just the three main characters. Some advice a girlfriend (at the time) told me was that I should peel back the other stuff, and she’s right. I think I overdid it in some scenes, but cutting is easier than producing, and if we must cut later, then we will.

Writing this in concert with reading The Talisman by Stephen King and Peter Straub was also weirdly instructive in a few ways:

Thanksgiving in Colombian fisheye. Thanksgiving, 2013. | Kenneth Lowe

Thanksgiving in Colombian fisheye. Thanksgiving, 2013. | Kenneth Lowe

  • King and/or Straub had a fondness for interior monologue merged together with stream-of-consciousness that leaned on a sort of coda. If that sounds stupid, it’s because it can easily be. It does not read aloud as well as it does off the page, and I distrust such constructions. I actually avoided that while I was writing. I hope I didn’t do it.
  • Dude, it has never been more obvious to me that King and Straub really did write one passage after another. That’s the only way the book could be so unforgivably long. I was swept up in it the first time I read it, but this time there was just so much wasted verbiage. It should not be 10 pages between when the kid sees his mother’s face in a window and when he actually uses the healing power he spent the whole book acquiring to help her. God damn. Sometimes it just seems like KingStraub can’t help himselves.
  • I do have a concern that NaNoWriMo encourages you to write to word count and not to actually get to the damn point. I had that worrisome feeling several times, but I also believe that enough of what I put down is worthwhile that I’ll hopefully not feel that way when I go in for the stage of editing that will come after I get to the end of the book.
  • And, incidentally, this has made me think that the end of the book is a “when” not an “if.” That’s encouraging.
  • Just sitting down and being forced to fucking write stuff has solidified a great deal of what was in the air about stuff in the past and in the future. I made notes whenever I decided that I had just retconned something I had written earlier, and I’ll go back and hit those scenes again.

Those are the only things I can readily call to mind at this late stage. Let’s run the meter one final time:

NaNoWriMo Day 29
START: 186,418
END: 190,043
GOAL: 50,535/50,000

Time to put this one to bed for now. I’ll have more interesting things to write about soon.