Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Fine Line Between Genius and Insanity

The Fine Line Between Genius and Insanity

"Are you attempting it again?" History Boy asks looking over my shoulder.

I nod.

"Only this time there's a crucial difference; this is an official international thing".

History Boy looks at me with just the right amount of scepticism. I continue.

"Their definition of a novel is 50,000 words, when I had the idea of writing a novel in a month I was working at something around 100,000*. 50,000 should be no problem".

I smile as I say this, endowing the 'no problem' with more confidence than I really feel.

History Boy doesn't buy it. He, maybe more than most, senses the depths of my procrastination.

"And what have you written in the last two weeks?"


"A play!" I say with a confident flourish. In my excitement of winning this particularl bout I do not acknowledge that I have in fact written just over half a play, mired as I am in the second act. But half a play is impressive too.

I can see History Boy wasn't expecting this, the tilt of his head marks a concession. "How many words is a play?"

"20,000". I look smug, concealing the fact that my word count currently stands at 8,200.

"I've managed about 50" he says and I take this as victory for me and my incorrect statistics.

But it does also mean that, in a moment of supreme genius stupidity, I have pledged my November to NaNoWriMo. At the rate I'm pounding through my as yet unnamed play I should have a first draft completed (with a few additions I'm inclined to make) in a couple of weeks. And then it's only healthy for me to sit on it for a little bit to get some perspective before I embark on The Eating Lots of Expensive Chocolate Stage (also known as Second Draft Hell). So in that sitting period what could be better than to complete a novel marathon? With absolutely no pressure as to the quality of the thing. My inner Editor will undoubtedly make up for it by being utterly anal about everyone else's apostrophes.

Part of the deal of NaNo is that you go public on what you're trying to do, just because it is one thing to face your own shame at not having done something, and something entirely different to have everyone you have ever known point and laugh at you. Obviously I am not going to tell you what my novel is about (yet) because this is me and I still have difficulty telling people what SSoB was about, even though it was on stage and you could see the bloody thing. But, just to heap the pressure on which I will know I will need when I hit about 10,000 words and it seems like throwing it in the bin would be the best course, I'm going to attempt the novel I pitched to Dean as his Christmas present last year. So you all know just how much grief I will get if I don't hit 50,000 words...

*I made about 20,000 before, erm, I had other things to do like hang around coffee shops with Dean.

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