Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Nano food, Nano diversions, and Name Your Inner Editor
What do you feed yourself when you’re trying to keep up your strength for Nano (National Novel Writing Month), basically writing each day until you keel over your laptop, in an exhausted haze?
I’m eating fish. Brain food. I had langostinos last night for dinner. What the heck are they, you ask? A crustacean sometimes called the Squat Lobster that lives in the waters of Chile and Spain. My hubby made langostino pasta. Mmmm. Today, I had sardines for lunch, in my salad, and tonight I’ll dine on Salmon teriyaki takeout. My brain will be fully charged from all of that omega-rich fish, but I fear possible mercury overdose a la Jeremy Piven. Perhaps I should switch to spinach and collards. A plain old mineral-rush.
Many writers are probably binging on junk food: fries, ice cream, Twinkies. You heard about that guy on the news who lived on Twinkies for a couple of weeks and still lost weight. It’s all about the calories, he determined. Don’t use that as a rationalization for self-medicating your wobbly confidence this Nano season or your stomach will rebel, and you’ll lose a few precious word-count days.
On another note, Erin F, the NYC Nano moderator posted about her inner editor. She named hers, Ethel, I want to say? I think I’ll name mine too. David. (My inner-editor is a “him”—a father figure from childhood, who paid close attention to details?? My muse is male too, so figure that one out, Dr. Freud!). Problem is, I’ll have to give my inner-editor more than one name. You see, David, has a few sides to him. When I’m sailing along he’s mellow too, so I’d call him Dave. But when I’m stumbling and the writing’s messy, my inner editor rails on me to go back and edit the darn mess. I reason with him, remind him that I’m not ALLOWED to go back and edit during Nano. He snaps, “But you’re writing’s sloppy, full of gaping holes and spelling errors.” That guy I wouldn't call David or Dave. I’d call him Mr. Thang.
Finally, the fabulous Aimee Bender, author of Willful Creatures, and Nano’s pep-talker of the day, encouraged writers to deviate from their outlines. She told us to follow our Nano daydreams, the playful questions percolating in our heads. In her words: “If you are writing a grocery scene, let’s say, and, if, on aisle 4 of the grocery store, character 1 starts to open up a peanut butter jar and eat it, and character 2 is so irritated she goes to flirt with a guy on aisle 3, and if this scene was supposed to be their first kiss—well? Maybe it's just not their first kiss at all. Maybe the guy on aisle 3 will end up being incredibly important!” Follow the scene to an unexpected place in the way you normally would NOT, in a tight outlined piece. I’ve learned to outline. I have to, to avoid wasting huge amounts of time as I spin a story into the outer rings of Saturn. BUT, now may be a great time for me to deviate—to noodle—to play—to take a dialog to an unintentional place. I’ll allow myself that liberty, in between scenes.
What about you? Special Nano foods? Your inner editor’s name? Your bravest deviation from the norm? Spill it here!