Guest Post: Embracing Incoherence (or, Rambling for Focus)

It’s me again, taking over so you don’t have to.

A lot has happened in the last couple weeks, but we’re now 18 days and some change into November, just a smidge past halfway. If you multiply 18 days (and some change) by the Golden Ratio (1.618, a.k.a. “Phi”, a.k.a. “ϕ”), you get 30, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof. How many days hath November? Not a coincidence.

That’s right, you’re at the Golden Ratio, the perfect spiral, the only-thingthat-makessense part of your story. If you’ve done NaNo before, you’ve already done your math — 30,000 words are miles behind you, and the wind is blowing comfortably through your hair.

30,000 words. Sound familiar?

So not only is it the most-perfect-hardest-time in your novel, it’s also the Night of Writing Dangerously in San Francisco. How—as a non WriMo—do I know it’s in San Francisco, you ask? Because I dropped your usual host off at the airport at a time that was not quite obscene, but also uncomfortably close to far-too-late. As I write this, she and at least one typewriter-toting maniac are snacking and binge drinking wining and dining and writing with 229 other writers.

“So how does this help me?” you ask. And just because I’m barging in here to hassle her with not-terribly-subtle notes about how far she should be, I’ll tell you.

Refocus on the goal: 50,000 words. 30 days.

Discover your story. Go faster, further. You’ll learn more about your voice. I know from watching Michelle that you’ll grow in your capacity to adapt, and everything will start coming together. It may not happen in just one NaNo, but it’s like watching the explosive delicacy and wonder of a time-lapse flower unfolding. You don’t think the Vikings reached North America by stopping and digging out their cartography kit at every glimpse of distant shoreline, do you?

What follows is actual dialogue (very lightly edited for consumption) between yours truly, and the lass who is going to strangle yours truly. Sometimes, it helps to have someone looking pointedly at the goal.

…picking up mid-conversation…

partlypixie: I’m tired of these stories I can’t end well. It started so damn well. But this month has been crazy, so I guess a coherent story on top of it all is a lot to ask of myself, eh?

irowboat: Stop whining. The point isn’t coherence. It’s 50,000 words. So knock it off.

irowboat: You’re leaping ahead into the “I’m publishing” phase. Not the discovery phase.

partlypixie: You’re so right, I really am.

irowboat: NaNo is discovery.

partlypixie: Yes

partlypixie: Thank you. That really, really helped.

irowboat: btw, that was 164 words you spent. Thought you should know.

partlypixie: Pfffft

…a couple days later…

partlypixie: With all this writing, themes are repeating so much I might as well be writing just 3 over and over. I don’t know if I have it in me to write something distinct.

irowboat: Then write something hazy and diffuse. Sounds stupid and patronizing, but I mean you just write; this is the month—of all months—where you excise every concern about what you’ll end up with. That’s what they look up to you for; that feverish, wild-eyed abandon, the acceptance and embracing of the incoherent. Readysetgo!

If you’re even the vaguest hint like me, the temptation is there every moment to edit that sentence just a little – not even trying to perfect it, just nudge it a little to let it make sense. Well, since you were foolish enough to stop in and check this out, you get the same care and watering I give as the stern WriMo wrangler (with a heart of cogs and fables): Stop fussing with it.

Every time your cursor goes up, you could be writing the next word. Every time your hand touches your mouse, you can only write words that are missing half the good vowels or common consonants.

If you’re even sort of close to hitting the 1667-word-a-day pace, that 30,000-word wall is the perfect (yes, I’m being self-referential) time to give up on your outline, ignore your urge to flip to your notes document to jot miscellanea (PROTIP: just write your notes in your story); the perfect time to give in, grab hold of every errant thought, and—with all your writerly might—bind them together like an army of Lovecraftian, madness-inducing, literary horrors.

Embrace them now. Remember this is National Novel Writing Month.

Going insane, losing hair/sleep/relationships, sorting out the gibberish – that’s what National Novel Editing Month is for.

(These 756 words were brought to you by the word ‘rambling’.)

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2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Embracing Incoherence (or, Rambling for Focus)

  1. Reblogged this on Tammy J Rizzo and commented:
    Yeah! I tend to try too hard to correct my spelling and grammar while I should should’ve working on words. As a result, I’m falling further and further behind.

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