The Nanonovella and public reading

I started my NANONovella on time, and wrote for some days, and am now hopelessly behind schedule. Then I got up this morning, and started with a headache and growing sense of malaise, which I’ve always associated with laziness more than any sort of illness. But the headache keeps getting worse, and my stomache is… Never mind. I’m going to the pharmacy rather than the office, and then I’m going to go to bed. Then, maybe, I’ll work on the Nanonovella. Why a Novella? As far as I’m concerned, 50K words isn’t a novel. However, I committed to a YA, and so it might very well be complete at 60K or so.
I committed reading in public last night. Nanonovella and public reading tie together more completely than you might think. I like reading from my book, and doing the reading out loud causes me to skip words and phrases that I love in written form, but that clearly slipped in while I was under the influence of my inner editor. Write in passion, edit at leisure. Fine. But when you edit, keep that passion in the front of your mind, and don’t let Strunk and White meddle with character voice. Or narrative voice, for that matter. Strunk and White aren’t going to get credit for your book, and if you’ve made your book bland in search of Strunkly and Whitely approval, you may as well not publish. Strunk and White aren’t going to approve, because they’re dead. English is not Latin, and the rules didn’t freeze in 1918. There is a lot of argument that the language has changed more quickly since the onset of rapid communications and information dissemination.
Still, I’m now recognizing that when I go to read the book for an audiobook, I’ll need to make some changes, even in a book that was always designed to leave the narrative voice ringing in the mind’s ear. Simplify? Not at all. But last night, with Jake’s voice ringing in my head, my actual words were sometimes different from the words on paper, and I found myself falling back to word choices I made during the first draft.
So, what does this have to do with the Nanonovella? The Nanonovella is entitled Armagedon’s Son, and is set in the Zook Country universe. I guess that world still has more stories to tell. But if I don’t get on my tuckus and start typing, this is another year when NANOWRIMO is just an extended form of novel planning. Since the story isn’t even remotely about motorcycle gang members, I may decide to change the title. Maybe I won’t. Armageddon’s Son rings for me.
Last night did something else for me. When I was planning how to introduce myself, I was using the “About the Author” formula, which is biographical and formulaic. If comes from the heart of all those letters I’ve written to publishers, agents, and editors, where the biographical information explains why my life made me the best person to write this book. That’s great stuff, if I’m writing about running while pregnant, and I’ve actually done that. Not so great if I’m fighting zombie hordes. There are no zombie horde survivors, for various reasons. I write because I have a passion for writing. I use models from my life when they fit, because that adds verisimilitude.
My wife said, “Start with, ‘I’m a lifelong fantasy and science fiction fan.’” She was right, but on a deeper level than she realized. I needed to remind myself of that. Yes, I have the military background that makes Jake and Gary credible as disgruntled veterans, but I also have passion for books in my chosen genres – including my own. I have a couple thousand of them in my basement library, and I had shelves installed so that I could alphabetize and find them. My library. My passion. How many other Alaskans have libraries this size in their houses? None that I know of. My shelves are filled with old, beaten up, often reread paperbacks, for the most part. I’m happy with that, and if I have to get rid of books, it will the clean and crisp ones, because those are the books I haven’t reread.
My inner writer is much closer to my inner fan than my dirty old editor is. My inner editor has been getting far too much sway, and I’m going to shut him down. For the rest of Nanonovella November, anyway.