The bemoaning of Week 2 seems to be common to most, if not all, NaNoWriMo participants. Week 2 is when the plot starts happening (usually. If not ... at least there's still two weeks to go) and the the going gets tough. The leafy green foliage of creative energy has been left in the dust and you're standing in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by a bunch of characters you've just realised you have no idea what to do with.
This year I was lulled into a false sense of security. After the success of Week 1, I went into Week 2 with an 800 word lead and my first writing session of Week 2 was easily knocked out in an hour. Not only that, but during the writing I had a revelation about my second POV character (Garron, if you remember him from last week's sneak peek): turns out he's gay. Or bisexual. I haven't quite figured out the exact parameters yet, but there you are. It sort of just hit me as I was typing and, I admit, at first I was thinking, "Really, Garron? Now you tell me? What about all my plans for the great romantic subplot?" But the longer I let it sit, the more real it felt to me. If you're not a writer, that won't make sense, but sometimes, something about a character will just feel right, even without me having given any conscious thought to it; it's just part of who that character is.
The second day was harder. I just wasn't feeling it (not helped by it being a Sunday; my Sunday's involve a lot of family time and I've always found it harder to get into the writing headspace on Sunday's) and I dragged my feet and kept putting it off altogether. In the end, my brother came through and bullied me into it. And, would you look at that? Again, another writing session gone in an hour, and I came out with a larger role for one of my supporting characters.
Day 3 was when things started to go pear-shaped (where does that saying come from? What's wrong with the shape of the noble pear, and who decided it was lacking?). For four days, it felt like I was dragging myself through a bog by the tips of my fingers. I honestly thought about giving up. Everything was hard. The getting down to write, the actual writing. The only thing that was easy was stopping, because I wanted so desperately for the day's session to be over. Admittedly, I was drunk when I did my words on Day 6; it was New Year's and my mum cracked out the champagne with dinner. I still have no recollection of what I wrote that day, but I'm guessing it wasn't great.
I've had people ask where this slump came from. I think it's down to a couple of things. First, because I'm making most of it up as I go, I have to write every scene in order because I don't know what's coming next until I write what happens first. That means no skipping ahead to write something interesting. I was actually bored by a lot of what I wrote this week; they were just filler words to make up the day's total. I hate to say it, but a lot of this week's words will likely end up on the cutting room floor. :( Second, I think I got too caught up in the worldbuilding. Again, there's a lot I don't know right now and I think I was so distracted by what I didn't know and how I was going to make the story work in spite of that, that I lost sight of what has always been most important to me: the characters.
Because yesterday, finally, Day 7 of Week 2, the heavens opened. I went into yesterday's session knowing how the scene began (always a good sign). I started typing, and it was bit slow at first, but then things started coming together and I just kept going. This isn't because I made some great worldbuilding discovery. No, it was because I went back to the characters. I let them talk, to each other, about their issues. And it worked, because I reached my total for the day and looked at my total word count and thought, "Only 600 more until I hit 25,000. I can do that easily." And I did. I pushed just that extra bit, reached the halfway mark, and now I'm almost 1700 words ahead.
So Week 2 ended the way it began. And, although I am exhausted, I feel good. Also daunted, because thinking about what I do know, I can see that I'm really only at the beginning. This story could easily end up being 100,000 words. Maybe even 120. And that's just the first book. So there's a long way to go but, for now, I'm going to celebrate these small victories. Surviving Week 2 really feels like one.
I'll leave you again with another sneak peek, this time from what I wrote yesterday.
See you next week!
25035 / 50000 words. 50% done!
Mel frowned and then said slowly, “You were in love with him.”
Garron’s mouth tightened. “Is it that obvious? No one else has ever said anything.”
She shrugged. “Maybe they just see what they want to see. Are relationships between partners banned?”
“Not in so many words. They are discouraged, because it makes it hard to focus on the job if you’re constantly worried that the person you’re in love with is in danger, but things happen and if it does people rarely say anything, at least in this Order. It might be different elsewhere.”
Mel nodded. “So what are you going to do?”
Garron shrugged. “I don’t know. Balthazar is right, though. I have to go out again eventually, especially after taking out that demon the other night.”
“That doesn’t seem fair. You’re grieving; everyone does it at their own pace.”
“Demons don’t care who you’ve lost or how you’re mourning, Mel. They’ll Cross whenever they want and the civilians won’t stop to ask you how you’re feeling or if you’re up for some banishing that day.”
Mel hummed and then said, “What if …?”
He looked at her and she turned to lean her side against the building and face him fully. “What?”
“What if you … declared your intentions to take on an apprentice, but not one who was ready for field training yet? Would that give you more time?”
Garron frowned. “I don’t know. Maybe, if I took on work within the Order, in the Soul Bank or something. Balthazar isn’t going to let me just disappear for however long.”
“Six months,” she said.
Garron’s frown deepened and he shook his head. “What do you mean?”
“I mean … what if you told him that you want to take me on as your apprentice, when I’ve done my six months within the Order? You discovered me, we’re familiar with each other, we’re even sort of friends, or we could be anyway; we already get along pretty well.”
“Wait.” He held up a hand. “You want me to be your mentor?”
She shrugged like it was no big deal. “Sure. You’re unfased by the whole Witch thing, which is more than I bet I’ll be able to say for the others. I don’t want to spend the next three years stuck with some guy who’s either threatened by me, or thinks I belong in someone’s kitchen like some 1950s housewife. You’re not like that. We could do it; we’d make a great team. Plus, you’d have an extra six months to prepare yourself for facing life with a partner again.”
Garron chewed the inside of his lip as he considered her. She was very convincing, he’d give her that.
“I don’t know if Balthazar will go for it.”
“Get Charles to back you up. You know he will if you ask. And you can always say that you’re considering taking up with the Soul Bank when you retire, so this is the perfect opportunity to get a feel for it, see if it’s for you.”
Garron shook his head, but a smile was forming on his face. “You’re very persuasive. Are you sure you weren’t in politics?”
Mel laughed. “Just to reiterate, I was a high school history teacher. At an all boys school. I spent as much time persuading them that learning history was a worthwhile way to spend an hour, as I did actually teaching them stuff.”
Garron didn’t know where his acceptance of the situation had come from but he found himself nodding his head. “All right. You have a deal. I’ll talk to Charles and Balthazar, but you have to promise that you’ll focus on your lessons for the next six months. I don’t care how persuasive you are. I’m not agreeing to take you on if I don’t feel you’re ready or up to scratch.”
“That’s fair. In the meantime, we can try to be friends. That way, when we actually get out there, we won’t feel like we don’t know the first thing about each other.”
They shared a smile, a proper one for each of them, and shook on it, just to seal the deal.