Thesis – Week 4: NaNoWriMo

I must find a more creative way to begin these posts, apart from histrionic lamentations about the fleeting nature of time.

But still: My God, where is the time going?

This week, unfortunately, my thesis was relegated to the back seat in light of a bit of chaos in my personal life. Nothing terribly serious, but, matters that demanded my undivided attention.

When I did set pen to paper, still I encountered that resistance I spoke of in earlier posts. The writing of myself into a corner. Writing blind.

I’ve begun to wonder if my current dilemma/block stems from writing in the third person. This is the POV I employ most often, but with increasing resistance from my characters, I’m considering inhabiting their collective consciousness and writing in first person. This I consider to be a last resort, as I am ever fearful of my characters leeching too much color and flavor from my own personality, so that those who know me will say “That’s something Andi would do”, or “Andi says that all the time”. I am living in perpetual fear of proving I am just a fledgling author, who inserts a better, stronger, glorified version of herself like a Mary Sue, because she lacks the sophisticated discernment to create original characters apart from herself.

So…yeah. There’s that.

I reached out to my thesis reader, (the member of the faculty who will read my material at midterm and provide feedback) at the beginning of Week 3 in regards to my stubborn characters, and their advice was beautifully simple:

                The planning of a novel is often more work than actual words to paper. You must think through your intentions and then let characters do as they wish. If your characters are not speaking to you, then you have space to work on their environment, give them a place to exist. Lovingly (or otherwise) craft rich sensory spaces wherein your characters can relax, feel alone, explore, and make their own. This is the time where you are able to focus on exposition and setting – the feel of your novel. Create as much tapestry as possible and the weaving images will occupy your characters.

Yes, I have chosen my reader well.

They touch on the absolutely necessity of planning, of knowing the endgame. How I get there is nearly irrelevant – if I give my characters the space, they will get me there. Now is my chance to create that space. Here, I think of Daphne du Maurier’s masterpiece Rebecca, where the fictional estate of Manderley became a character unto itself, and affected the plot’s movement as much as the human characters. (I remember writing an essay about the 1940 film adaptation of the same name for a college film course, and arguing that both the book and the film should have been named Manderley instead.)

I have not abandoned my search for my villain. I put together a binder with eight color-coded tabs to organize my work and research, but after pages upon pages of notes, I think it best to let that element of the story marinate for a while. After all, isn’t there a saying about finding what you need after you’ve stopped looking for it?

With NaNoWriMo 2016 a day and a half away, now is the time to reinvest myself in world-building. Who knows? After I’ve finished constructing the house’s attic, the basement, the rooms in between, that campus coffee shop on the corner, and its ancient library, all those physical places my characters will roam, maybe I’ll discover my villain’s hiding place.

Onward! Let NaNoWriMo 2016 begin!

– &i

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