NaNoWriMo time again, and I'm angsting over what to write.
There is no question I want to participate. I love feeling productive, especially in the writerly sense, and collaborating with hundreds of thousands of other participants really does give me a sense of support. There are naysayers who try to act all deconstructionist about it, the same people who complain about New Year's resolutions. Their argument is, "Why pick a month to do this? Why not get off your butt and start this any time?" The response, of course, is, "It has to start some time, and we chose November. If you can start up a major project like this at the drop of a hat, awesome for you, but what do you get out of pissing on someone else's cornflakes?"
I want to write, but I have no idea what to write. When I get the itch to start writing but don't have any definite ideas—I just want to perform the action and process of writing—I default to two genres: medieval fantasy and erotica. Bam, right there, one of those two. I write a very specific, niche erotica that doesn't have widespread appeal but does have a built-in and reliable audience, which is great for selling self-published e-reader short stories. And fantasy is easy because there's more forgiveness in fudging through a fantasy story. Bad sci-fi stands out immediately, but bad fantasy can be rationalized away without much effort.
But this time around, I don't have any plot in mind for writing anything. Not in any genre.
Lately I've been spending a lot of effort on a Dungeons and Dragons campaign for my wife and some friends. This has involved some studying on the new d20 gaming rules, which is surmountable, and a lot of tackling medieval community demographics, holidays, nutrition, economics, etc., which is not. Basically I'm grabbing as much information as I can to make a reasonable backdrop for the story. I've got solid NPCs (supporting actors) and, as I flesh these out, they begin to take on their own relationships.
So much so, that I really like the story that's starting to coalesce in my medieval town. And that's what I'm going to bring to NaNoWriMo, a story that my players must not be allowed to read. I can't have Rebecca proof my drafts and give me her impressions. I have to hack this out as quickly as possible (50,000 words over the course of November), and now NaNoWriMo encourages people to dedicate their Decembers to revisions and editing, though there's no competition for that. It's good that they thought of it, though.
But basically I have a pretty good story that just needs ironing out. And I'm sure it will all change once I actually start writing, because developing the story never runs according to plan. I've got to hit some plot points I need to see in the telling, but after that... we'll see. And I think, technically, I'm not even supposed to have anything planned: I'm supposed to hit Day One with only a vague idea and a dream but nothing written down. But does it matter? You don't win anything, you just reach your goal. I can forgive myself for organizing my thoughts beforehand, especially since a few days ago I had no idea at all what I was going to write about for a month. And who knows, maybe my mind will change in a week. I could have a really good idea and need to pounce on that. Not impossible.