Today I'm welcoming a friend from the NaNo Wars (and the Farscape boards), Cathy, to come blog about her adventures in NaNo and her experience as a fan fic writer (Fan Fic is fiction based on characters from TV shows, movies, or other authors books).
Post NaNoWriMo – Thoughts and ruminations on what it took to get there and what comes after
It's funny (and I think I use that start in a sentence way too often, but hey ...), but now that I sit here, almost two weeks after completing NaNoWriMo on time (that's a load off my shoulders and a bit of a surprise too), trying to think of something to write, I draw a blank. Well, okay, not a total blank. I'm writing this, after all. :)
My dog is moseying around in the background with a chewed-up plastic bottle, making noise because I'm not paying attention to him; probably because I didn't pay much attention to him during November either. Poor puppy.
NaNo happened by chance this year. I wasn't going for it, hadn't planned to participate. I was over at Terra Firma (a forum about everything Farscape, a sci-fi tv-show), browsing around for something interesting to read, and someone mentioned NaNo. And suddenly I thought it might be the thing to do. My life has been a bit shredded lately. October had been a bit of a nightmare for various reasons and November was looming ahead, promising to be almost as bad. Yeah, I'm psychic. *L* Okay, maybe not, but I was in a funk and knew that there was no way out of it until I made a decision with a heavy heart. Sick, old cat equals heartache in this house. I decided to try my hand at original fic and do it through NaNoWriMo. Ambitious under the best of circumstances, since I generally tend to write fan-fic and have only very few and very short original tales under my belt.
Anyway, from the moment I got up on Tuesday, November 1, things just went wrong. I was caught in a month of everything going wrong, of having gotten up on the wrong side of the bed every day of that blasted month. My one cat was not doing well and I knew where it was going, but had a hard time acknowledging it. I made the decision, booked a time with a vet who could come to my house, and had a week before that dreaded date. Finishing NaNo should have been the furthest from my mind, but writing has always had a therapeutic influence on me and, by jove, I needed something to go right. Just one thing. So I wrote whenever I could and I needed to reach the deadline of 50,000 words by November 30 so badly, it spurred me on.
Of course, the support system on Terra Firma helped immensely as well. The encouragement over there was heartwarming and it helped me accomplish what I sort of had given up on. With everything just crumbling around my ears and the loss of my kitty ... I think writing was a lifeline. It kept my mind off things, made me focus on this make-believe world and characters I had created from the ground up.
Writing original fic sure is different from writing fan-fic. Mostly because in fan-fic, you know that as long as you stick to the true and tried versions of the characters, others will recognize them and just see your tale as another adventure they're on. Original fic leaves you high and dry with characters that aren't fully formed (for the beginners among us) and a story-line that may or may not appeal to someone else. Of course, in NaNo you don't actually need anyone to read your stuff to participate. But it is a diving board for the start of a tale and it forces you to concentrate on telling a story as fast as possible. The first time I tried it, I failed. I had a plan, I had a layout for a story, and I was gung-ho on getting it written. But not much came of it. This time around, I was unprepared. I had an idea, yes, but I had no outline, no plan, no nothing. I jumped in feet first and it turns out I actually could swim.
And, what more is, I'm still interested and I want to finish it. Whether someone wants to read it is a totally different matter, of course. But I'll worry about that when it's done. Right now I just need to finish it, but I think I'm going to let it lie and soak up the atmosphere a little before I start working on it again.
Usually, when I write fan-fic, I do it in parts and post each part. I reread until I'm blue in the face, I try to fix mistakes along the way and fix those my readers kindly point out to me after the post. This experience has been ... different. I wrote 80-odd pages and I never reread, I never stopped to correct. I did skip back a bit to get a name or a situation right, but mostly I just moved forward, intent on getting those 50,000 words written so I could get on with this hellish month with at least one thing that had gone right. And I managed. Don't ask me how, but I did. When I hit the finish line – and not even on November 30, but on November 29 – I was at first stunned, then deliriously happy. It raised my spirit in spite of all controversy.
I don't know how others feel about writing in general, but to me it's therapy. I get rid of a lot of pent-up emotions – something you can tell clearly in some of the stories I've written – and that helps me to move on. I've written fan-fic since I was 12 and I intend to write until I can't write anymore. Will I ever be a published author? No clue. I may try. I aim at finishing this story and offering it up as a free e-book for others to read. Hopefully I'll get feedback on it and hopefully it'll be positive enough that it won't discourage me from trying again.