I’ve crossed the 50,000-word finish line. I also "won" in 2005 and 2006. Note that quality of the verbal production has nothing to do with this achievement.
However, I’m not done with what passes for my story this year, so I’ll continue to type until 11/30, when I’ll slap an ending on the thing, ready or not, and put it in a drawer, metaphorical or actual. Some day I may come back and look and see if I got anything worth saving and editing. At this stage, there’s no telling, and it doesn’t matter. It does matter that I take my imagination off a leash for at least a couple of hours a day for one month every year, and it also matters that I put a conclusion on the file before I close it out at the end of the month.
Here are three possible conclusions:
- Exeunt, pursued by a bear. (Borrowed from a great writer.)
- And a bear came in and ate them all up.
- And they all lived happily ever after.
(I see that the ordering site to which I linked for the book says: "Note: All copies come from the book’s second or third printing, with greatly improved boxed text legibility." Mine must be from the first printing, because trying to read the type in the boxes has always been one of the book’s major puzzles, possibly even more challenging than writing a novel . . . and provides a lesson in screening densities for book designers.)
Now and then, I need to do something that makes no rational sense at all, especially when the rest of life appears determined to require me to make sense and be rational.
I think this makes the sixth novel I’ve written, three of them in the past three years. If you can call them novels. In three cases I think you can; in two cases, it’s doubtful, although they are not nonfiction; and in this most recent case the file’s not ready for even summary evaluation, but what I wrote sure isn’t "true." It involves people who never lived and things that never happened.
It’s interesting that Wikipedia’s definition of the novel doesn’t include a fictional aspect: "A novel (from Italian novella, Spanish novela, French nouvelle for ‘new,’ ‘news,’ or ‘short story of something new’) is today a long prose narrative set out in writing." Long prose narrative. NOT "long prose narrative that has been made up" or "imaginative" or "pretend" or any of those other things that imply "not true" or "fiction."
One of the things I’m looking forward to after this month is over is pulling Jane Smiley’s Thirteen Ways of Looking at the Novel off the shelf again and seeing what I think of a chapter or two after this latest foray into the land of noveling.
I’m also looking forward to reading a couple of novels, at least one familiar and one not. I haven’t decided on the familiar one yet, although I have several pulled off the shelf. The unfamiliar one will need to find me.
Yes, life and work have continued while I’ve been indulging myself in this weirdness. Of course.