It’s the end of Week 1 of both half-marathon training and NaNoWriMo. On both counts, I think I can do this. Yes, that seems obvious. How tough can it be to fit in a few runs a week and about an hour and a half of writing per day? Really difficult, actually, to do that and work and not neglect housework and loved ones . Even as I wrote ‘I think I can do this’, I know that technically I’m about 4,000 words behind the word target for today, because both Thursday and Friday were no-shows on the typing front. That’s a lot of writing to catch up on, and pulling the words out of your head can be really tough and really slow-going. And I know that I am going to be shuffling my training plan to fit the busy days (still covering all the miles though).
But I had forgotten what it’s like to have an actual story to tell. I’m confident I can do NaNoWriMo (and then keep doing it, once November is over, because I’ll have to, because I don’t think 50,000 words will be enough) because I actually have a plot and characters, and know that I need to get from A to Z via quite a lot of other letters. (Laboured metaphor #1).
It’s been ages since I’ve written anything with an intention of a complete tale, even a short story. Years. And I’d forgotten what it’s like to have this amorphous mess of ideas and how it feels to try and pin them down on paper, and simultaneously coax and wrestle them into a readable form. I mean – NaNoWriMo isn’t even about the readable form stage of things (for me, anyway. Everyone has their own methods).
If this story were a statue, November is the part of the process where, say, Rodin took a chunk of rock and bashed it around a bit and knocked some lumps off, and made it roughly the size and shape he wanted it to be, and then had to explain that, “No, it’s not an elephant seal. It’s going to be two people kissing. I just haven’t got the detail figured out yet.” Except he already had the basic rock there, and I’m still creating the damn thing. Which makes me… a volcano? Or something. I don’t know. And I think Rodin used assistants to do the elephant seal stage anyway. (Laboured metaphor #2.)
Because the aim is just to get the words down on paper/computer, there’s quite a lot of ‘oh, I’ll fix it in the second draft’ going on at times where I really should stop to consult a thesaurus, but haven’t because I’m in the zone, man, I can’t stop to do that! This is the literary equivalent of We’ll fix it in post-prod. The same thing applies to the entire chunks where I know it’s not quite right, some parts more so than others. Currently there’s a character who’s just not coming together and as of this morning I’ve decided I’m going to kill her off, and maybe apply the ultimate character death at a later stage, which is to write her out of the story altogether.
Critically, I’m trying not to be critical of what I’m working on, because if I do that I’ll stop writing altogether. I’m also trying not too hard to think about the big plot points that I haven’t really figured out yet, because I trust that as long as I build towards them they’ll drop into place somehow (or they won’t, and that’ll be a fun time).
But I’m enjoying myself! In the past nine days of writing I’ve had three of those delicious magic moments where something falls into place and you get the good spine chills of the This is working variety. They’re the slightly addictive moments of writing. Also, when I procrastinate by writing a blog entry (which isn’t really procrastinating, being that it is actually something that needed doing) I remind myself that in full flow I can knock out a happy 1,000 words in an hour without too much hassle if I just put my head down and get on with it.
The half-marathon training is actually a good partner for NaNoWriMo. Except for taking up the time when I ought to be sat down, it’s a head-clearing opportunity. And it’s good exercise, obviously. When I start to get jittery from too much typing, going for a run balances everything out again. I also sleep better on running days, with less strange dreams.
I did the first training run this week on a treadmill in the gym. My reasons were three-fold:
- The gym would not allow me to sit down and have a cup of tea and forget about running.
- This entire training plan has the pacing very clearly laid out, so it would be easy for that until I remember where I’ve put my Garmin.
- I’m still paying for the gym but haven’t actually used it in a couple of months, and may as well get some use out of it.
Those reasons were all terrible excuses not to face the cold and the dark, but the treadmill turned out to be sort of a good thing in that it was so gruelling and boring and horrible that it reminded me how much I love running outdoors, with or without huskies attached. Yesterday I put lines on both dogs and did the training plan’s instructed easy jog. It was a little bit faster than it should have been, because, well, I was attached to two huskies. But it was fun. Also it was a wake-up call for my legs, which are feeling things today, but in that good, achey way that means muscles are still in them somewhere.
Also (insider tip) running in a harness attached to dogs that are faster than you does good things for your core and your glutes, because it’s basically a few miles of resistance training as you try to keep up, steer and not fall over. Just, you know, stay alert for squirrels, because if they spot them before you do you may find yourself running into a tree whether you like it or not.
What? No, I’m not speaking from experience at all. (Ow.)