NaNoWriMo… the pitfalls and the pratfalls

ImageOkay, so I have to be honest with myself.  I’m not going to finish a novel this month.  I’m not a quitter, but realistically the pace isn’t picking up sufficient to get the job done.  I had high hopes, since I had cheated and written some of the novel already in blog post format, and wanted to revisit the story and make it a real plot instead of a lot of random vignettes.  It’s a doozy of a story, involving a middle-aged cavalry officer in the 19th century being kidnapped to “the Celestial Kingdom” (China) by a brutal Warlord in a quest for vengeance.  The setting is a parallel Earth with certain fantastical elements–  there are many very familiar faces (Frederick Ward, Chinese Gordon, Friedrich Engels and David Lloyd George show up) along with several secondary characters that would be familiar to our world in the 19th century– British Secret Agents, American Sheriffs,  Pinkerton agents, and Chinese bandits and warlords. Alongside the familiar is a whiff of magical realism.  Ward existed in this timeline (in the past), as does the Ever Victorious Army he created, but he was also rumored to be a wizard of no small reputation.  Engels exists in the current timeline, but he is a mechanical enthusiast who putters about as chief of Engineering in a mostly Russian expeditionary force and training cadre.  I’m gradually salting the narrative with some well-known characters from pulp fiction as well, only somewhat rewritten to fit the time and place of the storyline– so expect to see a thinly veiled Nayland Smith in tow, lofty in his disdain for the protagonist.  Where will this polyglot go?  To a remote province of the Celestial Kingdom, where a power maddened Warlord and a 300 year old Wizard are hatching a devious scheme to wrest control of the Kingdom from their rival warlords and European interlopers, and become the new Son of Heaven.

I like it, it’s a grand story with a big scope.  The problem is it’s a little complex to plot it all in the short space of a month.  I’m not used to writing on a schedule.  I certainly understand that the whole point of Nanowrimo is to create a sense of discipline to sit down and “put garbage on the page”, since you can edit it later.  I’m trying.  I just can’t steel myself to write anything without sitting back and editing it on the fly.  It’s slow.  So I might try speeding up, but realistically, I’m off to Fall-IN! tomorrow and that will command about a half week of creative time that would best be put towards writing.  So it goes.

Maybe the whole experience will teach me some good habits.


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