Saturday, May 3, 2008

Gearing up for November!

Some of you know that last November, I wrote a novel during National Novel Writing Month. It was a great experience and I'm so glad I did it.

You haven't heard much about my novel since then. That's because it was terrible. I say that with a lot of love. I learned so much while writing the novel, and I think the only way I could learn it was by doing, and doing badly. I got more than I could have ever hoped from the experience, even if I didn't end up with the "Great American Novel".

I'm planning to do another round of NaNoWriMo this coming November, and have continued writing on a smaller, less insanely epic scale. I don't blog much about it, because in my opinion, reading about writing is one of the most boring activities on earth. There are some rules that are immutable: any books where the main character is writing a book will be unreadable, and movies about someone making a movie will be unwatchable. Seriously. I just dare you to give me an example that disproves this. Oh, you're going to pull out The Dark Half, aren't you? Please, one of Stephen King's weakest showings. Or Adaptation, the pallid followup to the genius that was Being John Malkovich. Now a movie about writing a book, maybe. Or a book about making a movie, well I haven't read one by perhaps it wouldn't be entirely tiresome.

I'm digressing again, aren't I? There's a perfectly good reason why I don't find it overwhelming to write 50,000 words in 30 days. It's because words flow out of me. They're not always coherent, or to the point, but they certainly don't get clogged up in there! Perhaps I should install a bit of a filter...

Back on topic, starting now. I promise.

So I'm currently finishing up reading The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon. First, this book is incredibly awesome. Amazing. All of you who have read it are in deep, deep trouble for not giving me this book and demanding I read it immediately. And for anyone of you who haven't read it yet, I demand you get it and read it immediately. There, now you can't blame me for not informing you of its awesomeness. Second, I have to get everything else by Michael Chabon and read that immediately. I hope it's just as good. Or even half as good. Because then I'm in for some awesome reading material.

How does this tie into my novel writing? Well, one of my biggest difficulties in writing a novel was in transitions. I got so mired down in minutia. I never knew how to jump over time. I didn't want to write the boring stuff, and I'm sure no one would want to read the boring stuff, but I had so much trouble skipping from Activity A to Consequence B without explaining all the blah blah that happened to get them from A to B. Kavalier and Clay is like a guide book for me in how to jump between points. It is so interestingly structured. Not only does he skip over the boring parts, he skips over the exciting parts, taking you to a point in the future where stuff has already happened, and then you as a reader piece it together in bits and pieces.

I don't think I will be structuring my future novels this way, but it's just so amazing to see the facility with which he handles movement in time. It's not particularly loud; not an attention grabbing structure. Not like how, for example, Vonnegut's structure choices sometime pop right out at you (I love Vonnegut, by the way...that's not a complaint at all about his writing, in fact, that's something I love about his writing, how he takes chances and plays with structure). If I hadn't struggled so much with my novel about how to get from place to place within my own story I'm not sure I would have even noticed Chabon's choices. But I'm just finding it so incredibly well done and such a joy to read. I have to shout it from the rooftops, or from the random bits that make up my blog.

Whew. I'll leave it at that, and hope my brief foray into writing about writing didn't bore you to tears. It was mostly a love letter to Michael Chabon, wasn't it? And isn't it fun to sneak a peek at my insane writer-crushes?

Random related thought: Anyone want to join in and write for NaNoWriMo this November? It really is fun, and doesn't take as much time as you'd think (about 2 hours a day is what I wrote on average, and I finished my 50k words nearly a week early). No using NaBloPoMo as an excuse, either!


Snickollet said...

I'm *considering* doing NaNoWriMo this year. We'll see. For me, it would be NaBoWriMo as I would not write a novel, I don't think, but a memoir or some other kind of nonfiction. Here's the crux of my problem: I'm not exactly sure what I want to write! So if I get that sorted out by November, count me in.

KCRSummertime said...

I love Michael Chabon, too. His most recent novel, The Yiddish Policeman's Union, is also AWESOME. I loved it, and currently have my MIL's copy, if you want to borrow it.

I think I've already mentioned that I'm rereading Catch-22, and if you haven't read that and want to read gorgeous transitions, that's your book. It's an amazing book.

And while movies about movies and books about books might be boring, musicals about musicals tend to be really enjoyable. (Or musicals in which there's a club or some other kind of performance venue...) It makes for a less stilted way for 40 people to burst into song--they're rehearsing a number! They're not just randomly singing a song to you! (Kiss Me, Kate; Pal Joey; Guys & Dolls; 42nd Street...)

Were you wondering when & how I'd work musical theatre into your blog? ;)