Wednesday, November 02, 2016


It is possible that much of what I will post about during this month of blogging will be the experience of my first National Novel Writing Month. Two days in a row, I have met the word count goal for the day. If I'm being truly honest with myself, that's more writing that I thought I might manage all month.

Yesterday I was a little bit pleased with how my novel started out. Today, for various reasons, it felt a lot more forced and less polished, although I think it was coming around a bit towards the end.

I think part of the point of doing something like NaNoWriMo is that it forces you to just get something down on the paper. The only way to meet the goal is to write. It's not quite as bad as adding "The End" to push a 98 word book report to the required 100 words, but I think it is going to feel that way sometimes.

Years ago I took a graduate class about teaching writing - it's still one of my favorite classes I've ever taken - and the professor insisted that we couldn't teach writing unless we practiced writing ourselves. Something we read in that class (or discussed, or heard - I can't remember the exact detail) was that it takes 40 gallons of maple sap to make one gallon of maple syrup. 40:1! I think of that all the time when I'm writing, because so much of what comes out at first is simply not great. But as I'm slogging through the bits that aren't great I occasionally find one or two thoughts or sentences that I love. So that first pass, that initial draft, I guess that's the sap. Editing and revising gets you from sap to syrup, I suppose.

This month I'm giving myself permission for almost all of the writing to be sap - as long as it keeps coming. We'll see if there's anything to make syrup from at the end.

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