I am not doing NaNoWriMo any more.
I was doing quite well to start with, I think; I was keeping to the required word count per day, approximately anyway (I have a few thousand words that I’ve not put up and won’t) and the words were, if not exactly brilliant or tied to any sort of plot outside of a vague idea of something I might do in my head, words.
It was early last week, I think, when I got out of the tube station, laptop in bag – I had started taking my iBook to work to better allow me to type – started towards the pub where I am now to knock out another thousand or two and felt sick. I really don’t want to do this. I’ve been doing twelve hour days on this bloody project for weeks now. I don’t want to do this, I want to… well, I don’t know quite what, but I don’t want to feel like I have to produce for another four.
Being the idiot I am I didn’t pay any attention to this but went ahead anyway. It was later on in the week when it all fell apart. I sat down and brought out the laptop, shoulders sagging, and started on the first pint and the fifth chapter. I found it quite impressive that I’d even managed to walk through the door given how tired I was. I started to write, and I started to drink, and the words were coming out, first relatively sane, then aggressive, then, around the fourth pint, hopelessly maudlin and sentimental.
I’ll explain, if it didn’t seem like a story very suited to sentiment, and I’ll make sure here that I don’t continue by giving away an important plot point that I had planned to work in later on: one of the protagonists, Prentice, gains his esoteric knowledge through talking to the dead. (The whole thing was going to centre around different ways that people gained knowledge.) He seems very polite and tolerant and diplomatic at this stage, but one of the key points was going to be that in fact his methods of getting information were inherently cruel. The dead people that he was talking to were unbearably lonely, eternity without sensory impressions apart from the conversation of self-interested necromancers, and he was carefully rationing his conversation, with the excuse that the loneliness could never be satisfied and he had to maintain a distance to keep sane. Which was true, but only to an extent. One of the dead people was his wife, and there was going to be an examination of how having complete power over somebody can turn a loving relationship into something exploitative. It wasn’t going to be a very positive story.
You can see where I’m going with this, I expect. I started with a monologue from the wife and it was getting much too personal. I was drunk and lonely and trying to portray a cosmic loneliness and it was getting too much… just after I finished the piece and started the next chapter with Prentice closing his mobile, my iBook’s screen fizzled and went black. I twiddled it a bit and it came back on, but my gadget sense told me that it wasn’t going to last, so I saved the files to my flash drive and closed down and left.
The next day the iBook’s screen turned out to be indefinitely fucked. This has happened before – a year ago in fact – it’s to do with the video cable, I’m told it’s an inherently fragile part of a laptop, it’s not actually a sign. But as far as I was concerned this was an excuse not to do something that, really, I didn’t want to do.
So the narrative transformation of Prentice from sympathetic protagonist to self-deluding exploiter won’t be seen now, and I had some good plans for that. Neither will the Michael character, who gets a lot less pleasant in the unpublished bits, be revealed to be the most positive force for the rest of humanity in general despite his honestly sadistic motivations, nor will Trish, who was going to get a bit more depth, honest, turn into pretty much nothing, self-destructive and shallow out of unconscious choice, perceiving nothing further even surrounded by all these people obsessed with esoterica, and using divination as a distraction like drugs and alcohol, a counterpoint to the efforts of everyone else. And nobody’s going to find out about the crab.
It’s not incredible stuff, yeah, I know, but I would have liked to finish it. I’m not going to though. I think the last few attempts have told me two things:
If in fact I am suited to writing anything, it’s certainly not novels;
November is always a bad month for me.
Oh, and as a postscript, I’ve also managed to ruin the relaxation element of one of my post-work staples, sitting in the pub and reading the paper. I can’t do that now without thinking of the damn novel. Nice one, fridge.