Gagging the Sh*t Bird

Well, I did it. I’m a NaNoWriMo winner. I’ve got a flashy little icon thingy to prove it, but as my blog editor can be a little idiosyncratic I’m not going to try and paste it here, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

I feel I should do the customary emotional thank-yous, so I’d just like to say that I could never have managed this achievement without Beloved’s understanding, patience and house-husband abilities. I’d also like to thank the Speculations online writers’ community (aka the Rumormill) for their support, as it was good to know other SF writers were doing NaNoWriMo alongside me. Finally I feel I should mention Kasugai foods, manufacturers of wasabi peas, the world’s most evil snack food.

Actually the idea of National Novel Writing Month is not necessarily to complete an entire novel in one month. I reckon that writing an average sized novel (say 100K) in four weeks would require the author to stop work only for the purpose of fulfilling basic bodily functions and/or to resort to serious chemical assistance. To be a NaNoWriMo winner you need ‘only’ write 50,000 words worth of a novel, which may or may not be the whole thing. For me 50K certainly wasn’t the end. I hit the target wordcount just before the first sex scene, and given this particular shag had been in the offering for several chapters, I couldn’t just leave the characters there. I reckon I’ve got at least another fifty thousand words to go before the first draft of ‘Epiphany Night’ is complete, though the whole skimpy outline thing makes it hard to be sure.

Though this isn’t my first novel, writing with a daily wordcount requirement and a looming deadline has taught me a lot. The main thing it has taught me is ‘Write now – Revise later’. This was not easy for me, given my compulsive need to re-write. I have created a re-write notes file, but have done (almost) no editing on the text so far created.

In order to produce an un-edited first draft I had to learn to stiffle the Shit Bird. Writer Liz Holiday brought the existence of this vile critter to my attention some time back. Though invisible, you can feel the weight of the Shit Bird as it sits on your shoulder – in my case the left one. It watches you work, and you hear its voice in your head as it reads what you’ve just written, saying, ‘This is shit, this is shit’. In extreme cases, the noise it makes can make you give up altogether. Most of the time it just breeds a compulsion to stop and revise what you’ve written in the vain hope of shutting the bloody bird up. This month, I’ve ignored the bastard no matter how hard it shrieks in my ear. And I’m going to do my best to continue to deny its existence while I finish ‘Epiphany Night’. Then I’m going to do some serious editing.

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