Going into November, I knew that writing this next novel was going to be extremely difficult without a plan and an outline. The story is more complicated than The Repossessed Ghost, but it needs to maintain the same tone and be easy to consume like the previous novel. Complexity and lightness are not mutually exclusive, but for me to pull it off, I have to come into the story with a much greater sense of what’s going on.
I’ve spent the beginning of November doing that prep work. I know what the emotional core of the story is, and I’ve been working out details for each of the supporting characters. One character in particular, I needed to figure out her entire timeline in the story, since it’s very complicated and, from Mel’s perspective, non-linear.
In a nutshell, here’s what I’m trying to do: I’m trying to write a story that rewards people for figuring out the entire timeline, while at the same time, does not punish people that just want to read the story and have a good time. Lightness and complexity. Exactly the kind of story I enjoy.
Today, I went to the November Shut Up and Write mini-marathon, which takes place on the first Saturday of every month. This seemed like a great opportunity to finish the outline and finalize some of the background details I need in order to write the story without getting lost. During the first part of the day, I did just that. I created the project in Scrivener, and I spent an hour and a half brainstorming some of the most important pieces of the story. I’m almost ready to start drafting.
After lunch, before we could start the last half of the marathon, I got into a disagreement with a newer member to the Shut Up and Write group. He was extremely pro cryptocurrency, and I am not. I did not agree with him, and then he started saying I was disrespectful towards him. He even said something that could be taken as a vague threat, then tried to make our disagreement about race.
The worst thing I said about him was that he was in the tech industry, because the only people I’ve ever known to be that into crypto are tech bros. I didn’t call him a tech bro. He said something about being in the tech industry and I said, “Of course you are.” And that was enough for him to say I was disrespectful, the ultimate example of white privilege, and that I should watch myself.
He left, and I left. I was not in the correct mind space to work at that point, so I went home.
Before it got out of hand, I tried to apologize to him for making him feel uncomfortable. I apologized to the group for my part in the disruption. The leader of the organization told me I really didn’t need to leave, but I felt like I should, if for no other reason than to come home and get my head straight. I tried really hard not to make that a big scene or make people uncomfortable.
I’m really, really not doing NaNoWriMo this month, but I will be writing. It’s still possible that I’ll finish my outline, start drafting, and suddenly write a bunch of words. I’m not giving up on the novel. I’m just not going to feel bad if I fail to write 50k this month, because the stars haven’t aligned for that feat to happen this year, and that’s okay.
The point is to keep writing. And I’ll keep doing that.
But probably not today.