So my aim is to finish or come very close, which will take at least 50,000 words (since it's me, and I'm rambly). I'd thought of setting myself loftier goals--70K or even 100K--since last year was pretty easy for me, but decided that it matters not how many words I write but that I finish--or at least come close.
The novel takes place in my original fantasyverse of the Midhavens. The story is fantasy with elements of horror--just pretend to be surprised by that--and follows the early life of one of my most important characters, who was bred and born to be an evil sorcerer of extraordinary renown.
The problem is: He's not evil. So the story follows him through his life, finding his identity and escaping the fate into which he was born and dealing with the repercussions such a background brings in a world that is naturally suspicious of magic.
In writing this story, I can see why Tolkien got himself into such trouble with ever-changing names and ideas that now boggle researchers with their inconsistency. The Midhavens began as a realm in which to set my original fantasy RPG. As I constructed the backstories of the main NPCs, I was drawn into their lives, and they practically begged to be written about. So here I am. The problem is that, forming an RPG, I cared considerably less about naming and practical details deep in the history and mythology. Many of my names were derived from Elvish--both Sindarin and Quenya--because I hate inventing names and was the only Tolkienite in the group...and so the only one who would ever notice that my fantasyesque names were in fact derived from another author's language. As the Midhavens move from an RPG realm into a full fantasyverse, I'm slowly changing things...but I hate making up names. Hate it, hate it, hate it. And it seems that my little dark sorcerer and his eventual wife--the parents of meryth and talban--are two of the names that I have to change.
So I've been looking for names, teasing apart words and existing names, occasionally scribbling random conglomerates of syllables in hopes that something clicks. This was how I named Meryth and Talban. Meryth was named because I wanted a Ranger character to play in my RPG, I needed a name with a moment's notice, and literally blurted out, "Meryth!" Talban came to me while sitting at my desk at work, staring at the CSAFE map over my computer. It has all of the Maryland counties on it, and I was pondering some of the names. My mind got caught on "Talbot." Could be a cool name for a character, I thought, but "Talbot" inevitably makes me think of steamed crabs and the Chesapeake Bay (since it is an Eastern Shore county) and the CSAFE district of Easton. Heh. The perils of working with warrants. So I changed the "bot" to "ban," and Meryth's brother was born.
Now, I just spent a good minute staring at the CSAFE map and hoping that their father's name will similarly jump out at me. Charles? Caroline? Prince George?? *snickers* Nah, I think I'll have to look in my character name book or just hope for dumb, dirty luck on this one.
Meanwhile, it occurs to me, while working on this project, that building a universe and writing a story are really separate but connected endeavors. Before starting this, I would mentally scream at my Tolkien books--particularly HoMe--all of the time. "Why! Why did you do this to us?! Pingo becomes Pongo becomes Dingo becomes Fingo becomes Fingon...nrgh!" Now I'm a little meeker, shall we say, while reading. Sometimes, I just want to write something, only I need one hundred names and historical facts to do it. So I make up stupid names or create names in Elvish to tide me over. I can imagine that if someone endeavored to dig through my notes like Christopher Tolkien is doing with his father's, they would not have much hair left at the end of it. Or I make up harebrained history and mythology right off the top of my head, just to keep the story flowing. "Oops...I need an explanation from where in the individual magic comes...." Voila! Random crap! Currently, I'm trying to develop rites of passage for my dark sorcerers and names to go along with all of it.
The good thing is that I did fully develop the Midhavens backstory for the RPG, so that's taken care of and that's the really important thing (in this story anyway) that could cause a story to break if I changed it. But I've been living with this Midhavens idea for almost two years now, so it's starting to feel real to me.
(Incidentally, the arrival of the Midhavens backstory is interesting in and of itself. I'd had a cold and had taken medicine before bed so that I could sleep, only I took the wrong thing, and the medicine had stimulants in it. I got a half-hour of sleep that night, and sometime that night, as my exhausted and ill body tried to keep up with my overactive and very-awake mind, I made up the Midhavens story. I had to work the next morning and came in to work and furiously typed it up because--as the day wore on--I could literally feel it fading like a dream. So I guess if my stories ever make it into print and into history, then one would not be lying to claim that Dawn was on drugs when she made up the Midhavens story!)
As for NaNoWriMo, last year, I was pretty sure that I would not do it again. I felt liked I'd learned what I needed to learn from it. Alas, here I am, doing it again. It is simply too good of an opportunity. It's a big, official event, so I can put off doing non-writing things and not feel bad about it. Or I can tell people that I need to keep my schedule fairly clear and not feel bad about it, like "Dawn's playing with her Elves again rather than going out and doing things. *sad sigh for all the hopeless Dawnlike geeks*" Instead, it's "Dawn's writing a novel in a month!" (No one has to know that it's more a half-novel, right?) "Wow! *immediately pardoned from non-writing activities*" And hopefully, I'll at least come close to finishing the damned thing so that I can start revising and perfecting my Midhavensverse.