At midnight, I started my NaNoWriMo novel. I was aware that I only knew how the opening scene went, and as I began writing, I realized that what I had in mind wasn't even a scene, but a character in a moment. I dragged that moment out to a page. I remembered that there's a dog in the story, and I got another half page out of introducing the dog. I decided that 555 was a nice word count to end on, reminded myself that the post-midnight hours are hardly my best writing time, and I called it a night.
It wasn't my most confidence-boosting start to a month of writing. But when I went to bed, I thought up a next scene that I can write at tonight's write-in. And that will probably lead to a next scene, and then another, and another, and eventually I'll have something vaguely novel-shaped, and that's what a first draft is.
I'm out of practice with first drafts. This was my problem last November as well. I used to be pretty good at suppressing the inner editor who says, "That's a really clunky sentence" and "You just used that word" and "Why are they having this boring conversation?" Now it no longer comes naturally to me to let the words lie where they fall to be cleaned up later, but I really do believe that's the best way to write a first draft. It just takes too long otherwise.
So I'm going to try very hard to keep that editor locked up in the trunk and to write all the ugly sentences, pointless scenes, and other raw materials that first drafts are made of. There's a story in there somewhere, and it's not going to come out unless it can grow wild.
Good Stuff Out There:
→ Booker prize winner Howard Jacobson discusses the role and history of comedy in novels: "Show me a novel that's not comic and I'll show you a novel that's not doing its job." (Thanks, Henri!)