Saturday, November 05, 2005

Day 5: Chapter 2

Although I'd originally envisioned each of the So-Called Novel's presumed 10 chapters as being roughly 5,000 words long (yes, you can do the math: 10 times 5,000 equals the magic number, 50,000), last night at the 4,000-word mark, I grew Officially Sick of Chapter 1. In his book Writing With Power, Peter Elbow devotes an entire chapter to "Nausea," that sick, "I don't want even to look at it" sensation that writers eventually reach with a given project, or a specific part of a project.

In my case, it's not my So-Called Novel that makes me nauseous (well, not yet). I'm just tired of Chapter 1, having spent a wretched 4,000 words to float Alexa down a street that introduces the ominous red house that figures later in the story but doesn't otherwise move the story to any sort of thing resembling "narrative progress." And so last night before bed, I made the call: first thing in the morning, I'm moving to Chapter 2. "Ready or not, here I come!"

Apparently my brain is working on this novel even when I'm not consciously thinking about it, because in the middle of the night, I woke up thirsty...and after getting a glass of water and returning to bed, I had an idea for the first line of Chapter 2 (as well as an idea for an image/line to wrap up Chapter 1). And so I did what every how-to book about writing says you should do, but I'd never before done: I scribbled the opening line, and then a rough sketch of an opening scene, in a notebook I'd put by my bedside just for that purpose. So when I woke this morning and fired up my old but trusty laptop, there it was: a first line and a rough idea of where to go from there.

I'm hoping to make significant word-count progress this weekend, playing catch-up from a week when I couldn't devote much time to So-Called Novel-writing. But for now, I've broken the 5,000 mark, and I have a truncated Chapter 1 and the start of Chapter 2 to show for it.

So, at what point do, will, or have you become Nauseous with a past or present writing project? And how can you tell when you're done with one chapter and ready (or not!) to move onto the next?
Word-count: 5,505

Last line: How could any letters have remained hidden over the years (and survived the curiosity of the house's various owners and occupants) that separated Alexa from their long-dead writer?


At 11/05/2005 11:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Today the nausea is still at bay, but I suspect it will find me at some point in this process. Perhaps I should keep the Dramamine close by, just in case. :)

Word Count: 3799

last line: "That's why they call me the judge - I'm the one that gets to pass out the gold stars."

good luck in Chapter 2!

At 11/05/2005 12:29 PM, Blogger Lorianne said...

Ooooh...I want a gold star! :-)

(Last year I even made myself a Word-Count chart, and I got a shiny star sticker for every day I made my goals, just like a little kid in kindergarten!)

At 11/06/2005 8:47 AM, Anonymous Trombone lady said...

I think the great thing about nano is that it forces us to just keep writing. Think of nausea as the morning sickness which indicates the future birth of a Great Work (what's a metaphor? Cows, of course)

At 11/06/2005 4:57 PM, Blogger Lorianne said...

Yep, I think "keeping writing" is the key whether you're nauseous or not.

So far, I haven't felt any "morning sickness" on this year's NaNo novel. But I suppose it can hit any day now. :-)


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