Sunday, November 4, 2007

Coming Up Short...

I don't think I'm going to have enough words to make 50,000. I'm halfway through and only have 12,088. I've expanded on each section I've already written as much as I can without it sounding stupid and wordy. Unlike with fiction, I can't just keep on expanding the plot or adding in new characters. Mine's a memoir. There's only so much one can write. I'm only 22, after all. I'm really sad about this because I really wanted the prestige of "winning" NaNo. I'll have enough to make the 32-pg minimum that is required for LuLu (self-publisher, for those of you reading who didn't know already) to be willing to bind the book, and thus I will have the book bound even though I probably will not "win". This shouldn't be such a big deal to me, but it is. Oh well.


momsie564 said...

Hi, I'm not sure I understand. I thought memoirs were not permitted under the rules of NaNo?

In any case, if you feel blocked and just want some ideas to get yourself writing again, could you turn that first-person narration into a third-person, and add a few totally fictional scenes to pad out your word count? In other words, use your memoir as the springboard to a work of fiction?

Pearannoyed said...

Even though writing a memoir isn't really the point, I still support it. Anything that gets people writing whatever they decide to write is a good thing.

It's not a bad idea though to fictionalize your personal experiences. It may feel wrong to do it at first, but you could do more exploration of secondary characters that way. How did your condition affect your friends, your family? What would go through the minds of people who only knew you in passing, but who might have noticed weight fluctuations or other symptoms of your illness. If you got treatment at a specialized facility, you could show parts of the story of other patients who didn't have the same success that you've had in treating your eating disorder. There is a world of possibility that would add to your story without detracting from the personal aspects of it.

If you don't want to go that route, you could potentially fill out your personal story with other kinds of details. If you decide to stay completely non-fiction, include information you might have about others who've been through similar problems. Or you could include information about the condition, how to recognize who might be at risk, and how to find support groups or medical practitioners that specialize in treatment.

momsie564 said...

Sorry if my comment came out sounding snarky, Emily. It wasn't meant to - it was a sincere question, one I saw debated in the forums before November started. I didn't mean to imply you were doing anything wrong at all.


Emily said...

That's okay, momsie564. As for whether or not it's considered NaNo material or if I'm just writing a memoir in November as a personal challenge, it depends on which moderator you ask. Some say it's cheating (Dragonchilde says that, and not in a very nice way, either). Some say it's bending the rules, but not breaking them.

Pearannoyed said...

Personally, I think it would be cool if NaNo added another official writing month - NaMeWriMo - just for people to dig into their own pasts and write about them. Either that or build an official Memoir/Biography writing adjunct to NaNo.

I totally 'get' that a memoir is not a novel. I have just never understood why the vehemence about no biographical writing in November. Who are the biographers and memoirists supposed to be cheating? If they write 50,000 they have still accomplished something outstanding, and it doesn't take a single thing away from the works of fiction being written by other participants.

Emily said...

There's been talk about adding a non-fiction component to NaNo, or starting a separate non-fiction challenge. That would be awesome.

#1 Dinosaur said...

Actually, since NaNo is basically a competition with yourself, you can do anything you want. I just keep these two things in mind, both from the NaNo FAQ pages:

"If you believe you're writing a novel, we believe you're writing a novel too."

and the answer to this:

How do you stop people from cheating, then?

which is this:

"... since the only real prize of NaNoWriMo is the self-satisfaction that comes with pulling off such a great, creative feat, we don't really worry too much about people cheating. Those who [cheat] are pitiful indeed, and likely need more help than a downloadable winner's certificate can provide them."

I say if you can write a 50,000 word memoir in 30 days, more power to you. You deserve just as much acclaim as people who are just making stuff up.