National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it’s known to writers and abbreviators alike came to a close last week and with it dreams of completed manuscripts were finally realized or dashed in one fell December day. Truthfully though, there can be no failures in National Novel Writing Month if you signed up and participated in any manner. Any attempt, however brief, demonstrates a will to put something on paper, and that in itself is an important victory in the writing process. I hope to see many debuts in 2016 that were written or at least cultivated during the month. I worked on a few things during this NaNoWriMo and it was productive, but November is always a little scattershot for me. I will probably never finish a whole book in the month’s span, at least not one that makes any sense or isn’t just a brief unintentional novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, but I still like using the window as a springboard to get a chunk of work done on some end of the year projects.
With NaNoWriMo officially at a close though, a new important and terrifying month falls upon writers. December. December is not only the magical month where you relearn that your eyelashes can freeze together if you fall asleep at a bus stop, but it’s also the month when the permafrost forces you back inside to sift through the 90,000 word fever dream you scribbled out in November. This is the month that will find you swaddled in blankets at your desk, sarcastically muttering, “Winter is coming” to your dog, like it’s his fault that you’re doing revisions with mittens on and nothing in your story makes sense. But even before you enter into the frigid muttering at your dog stage of the month, you should really throw the manuscript in a drawer for a week or so before attempting any revisions. Maybe spend a few days reading some other books and that time and distance away from your work will be invaluable when you choose to return to it, armed with a more objective eye and less muttering. And if you find yourself incapable of shutting your mind off from the story during that week, that’s still a positive sign, but maybe just confine your output to writing down some thoughts in a notebook and keep your manuscript locked away like it’s that creepy kid’s book from the Babadook.
Also, for those who did participate in NaNoWriMo and are in the midst of revisions, especially in regards to tinkering with their characters and their motivations, this Hayao Miyazaki video essay is quite a good watch. It does an excellent job touching on why Miyazaki’s films and characters are compelling beyond the gorgeous hand drawn visuals.