Day 11 of NaNoWriMo: It’s a Sunday, and I feel like that’s some sort of milestone, being the end of the week and all. A perfect time to consolidate all that has happened in the month of November so far. But, in reality, this is the only day I haven’t felt an immense self-reprimanding guilt for typing words that are un-realted to my novel word count. However, this is important, I feel, to take stock, to see how far I’ve come, what I’ve learnt and to perhaps give myself a little pat on the back for managing to put something down on the page every single day – after all, it’s quite a surprise for someone like myself, a world class procrastinator and all round lazy sod to accomplish such a feat. I’ve seemed to gain some sort of rhythm, yet haven’t quite perfected the illusive ‘maintaining quality whilst producing quantity’ technique. I guess that comes with practice.
Here’s, however, what I have learnt. (Apparently not the difference between learned and learnt…is there a difference? One’s Brit. according to my dictionary. Hmm, learning something new everyday!)
Okay, one: rising levels of commitment – in the beginning of my NaNoWriMo quest there was food, lots and lots of food. About ten million satay chicken sticks and Vita-Weets with butter and Vegemite, a product of intense, procrastinating hunger, and left over catering food from a wedding waitressing job. As the quest carried on there became less food. I love food, and I love dinner, so when dinner becomes a banana because you just have to reach your word quota for the day, you know you’re committed. Now, when you forget about your tea, steeping on the counter, left to go cold, perhaps you’ve taken it too far. Another sign of your rising commitment is the sore poky outie bits of your wrists that rest on your laptop, leaving you to type from above, like your on some sort of clunky, old school type writer.
Two: imaginative descriptions use up most of my brain juice – As you may have been able to tell from my incredibly knowledgable description of a certain part of my wrists, adjectives are not my strongest suit when it comes to writing. I’m not a very detail-orientated person, which is quite frustrating when you’re trying to create a scene from scratch that doesn’t exist on this planet. Why on earth did I decide to write Sci-Fi, anyways? Everything just ends up being silver and shiny. ‘Would they have concrete in the future, on a distant moon colony half way across the galaxy? Hmm, maybe not, perhaps I should just say it’s a concrete like substance, yes, that will do, I can’t waste precious time agonising over a made up building material…’
Three: Perhaps the literary community is right, when they say ‘write what you know’ – I don’t know anything specific about space travel, paramedics, the laws of physics, military hierarchies, the legal system or whether people would still tile their bathroom showers in the future, which leads me to digress that writing a story which requires much research is probably not the best thing when sticking to a strict schedule. Not to say that I have done absolutely none. I have bugged my Paramedic friend about the procedure of a chest decompression, and she’s probably a bit confused why I’m so obsessed with the specifics of the needle used – it’s just a needle. Ah, yes, but how exactly long is the needle, is it thin or thick, what colour is it, is it like a tube thing or a syringe thing? etc. Ah, that’s okay, just forget about it, we’ll fill that in later, along with another word for space concrete.
Four: The research can actually be more interesting than your story and distract you from your work – Upon realising that Sci-Fi, by definition, actually requires some fiction about science, I consulted the internet about long distance space travel and stumbled upon a genius fellow by the name of Michio Kaku. One reasonably priced Amazon purchase later and I was the owner of his books ‘Physics of the Future’ and ‘Physics of the Impossible’. What I remember from my high school physics class is a diagram of someone pushing a boulder off a hill and some mathematic equations like speed = distance/time (I’m not even sure if that’s right, shows how much attention I was paying). Anyways, if they taught physics in high-school, the way Kaku writes about it, I’m pretty sure I would have at least sat up with a keen interest and not endeavoured to drop the subject quicker than a south-shore Sydney teenager, in the 70’s, drops his girlfriend when she eats his meat pie (Puberty Blues, anyone?). If any high-school physics teacher talked in terms of the possibility of death stars, lightsabers, force fields, laser guns and gamma ray bursts that can incinerate all life on Earth, I’m certain we’d see more future Leonard and Sheldons walking around the school yard. Because that shit is cool. And being smart should be cool. Why isn’t smart cool? Is it because all smart kids look like Leonard and Sheldon? Anyways, if you can find a way to slice through any material with a glowing hot, plasma sword, you should be rock star.
Five: When the 900 + words you’ve just written in half the time it would have taken to write that amount in your story, makes you kinda depressed, you know you must get out of the house and reclaim your sanity, just a smidgeon.