Saturday, November 15, 2014

NaNoWriMo: Progress Report Chiang Mai

Evening view from my 10th-floor apartment in Chiang Mai


Hello mid-November!

Sadly, the arrival of Nov. 15th  means NaNoWriMo is halfway over and I feel like it has barely begun. I'm not saying  I haven't been busy, but because I'm doing it alone this year, and because I've already been writing like crazy since the month of August, these past fifteen days have not felt particularly special. However, there was one very profound moment that occurred at a cafe in  Mandalay, which inspired me to keep writing. For weeks I had been feeling very overwhelmed at the prospect of completing this book. I nearly finished it during last year's NaNo, but when it approached completion I got scared and stopped writing. Something about actually completing it was terrifying; I felt unworthy of bearing the fruit of my own artistic labor. As long as it remained unfinished, it could remain unread, and thus un-criticized. But that day in Mandalay I re-read many parts of my novel.  I laughed at certain scenes, while others almost made me cry. Some details surprised me, as though I had forgotten what I wrote. I was almost experiencing it as a new reader, and it was a pleasure to read. I realized that the characters have voices of their own, and they want to be heard. Now that I created them, I feel obliged to them. I have to finish this project for their sake. 


Having just spent two weeks in Myanmar, I am now typing this from my apartment in Chiang Mai, the place that will be my home for the next month. This was where I originally intended to start and finish NaNo, but due to the logistics of my 6-month trip across SE Asia, mid-Nov was the earliest I could get here. 




Challenges:

My "writing room"
  1. Sensory Overload: I spent 12 out of these past 15 days in Myanmar. I had no idea how difficult it would be to write there. Myanmar is an amazing experience for the senses, and I found myself writing in my journal for hours each day, but I could not seem to transport myself into the fictional world I created. 
  2. Location: In addition to Myanmar exhausting my mental space with all its dazzling and disorienting scenes, I had a really hard time finding comfortable places to write. Not one of the hotels I stayed in had a desk or chair, and I am not comfortable writing from bed. When I want to "get out of the house", I usually go to cafes, but those were few and far between in Myanmar. Only Yangon had a promising cafe scene, which I took advantage of, but Mandalay and Bagan had little to offer in this regard.  
  3. Movement: This trip through SE Asia has helped me to reclaim my love of travel, but I've learned that a day on the road, whether it be by bus or train or plane, is draining. In the past fifteen days I have bee on two 15-hr train rides, one 9-hr boat ride, one 9-hr bus ride, and one 1.5-hr plane ride.  It is futile to attempt any creative work while in motion, and when I arrive I am usually too drained to work on anything for the remainder of the day. That's five days where I have basically been useless.
  4. Content: Since I am continuing to work one my first novel - the one for which  I wrote over 50,000 words  during NaNo 2013 - I am facing challenges writing new content. Basically, the entire novel has already been written, it just needs some heavy editing and some reworking as I piece it together. LAst year I made a list of scenes that had not been written, so I was able to focus on those during each writing session, but this time I have no such list, and instead I am revisiting certain scenes and reworking them, which results in a lower word count and is more time-consuming. 


Successes


1.  I am more or less on track! Although I deeply underestimated how hard it would be to write in Myanmar, I managed to make up for it in a few power-sessions.
2.  I have totally reworked the sequence of events in the novel, which has helped build suspense in certain areas, and been conducive to moving the plot forward.
3.  I redeveloped two main characters to enrich their personalities and lives in the stories. They are not as one-dimensional and stagnant as they once were. 
4. I have learned more about myself as a storyteller and I believe my skills have increased. 


Progress Report


DayDateCommentsGoals WordsActual Words
Saturday1Yangon20001097
Sunday2   train to Mandalay10002216
Monday3Mandalay20000
Tuesday4Mandalay20000
Wednesday5Mandalay2000???
Thursday6Boat to Bagan10000
Friday7Bagan20000
Saturday8Bagan20002888
Sunday9Bagan20000
Monday10bus to Yangon10000
Tuesday11Yangon02182
Wednesday12fly to Bangkok00
Thursday13  train to ChiangMai10001318
Friday14Chiang Mai07002
Saturday15Chiang Mai20001520

Goals Word Count: 20,000
Current Word Count: 18,223
Difference: 1,777





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