Wednesday, December 1, 2010

NaNo NoMore

354903This past Halloween, otherwise known as the day before NaNo, not only did I bury my dead cat, but we were also on Puppy Bowel Movement Watch, because all three of the dogs had devoured a plate of bone-in buffalo wings while no one was watching.  It’s a funny story now, but for the last day of October and the first of November, we were certain at least one of them was going to have a blocked colon or ruptured intestines.  As if that weren’t enough, I spent the first six hours of November in the emergency room with my wife.  Oh, and I got stopped by a cop on the way there.  With expired plates (me, not the cop).  He let me off with a warning, but took his sweet time doing it, or so it seemed at the time.  Fortunately, my wife is doing fine now, and so are the dogs.  November, however, did not get off to a very fun start, although it did better.

Sadly, December has arrived and I did not reach 50K, nor did I finish the novel.  I’m disappointed but not really upset about it.  I knew going in that after spending three years on my first first draft, NaNo would be like going from climbing Mt. Baldy (a sand dune on the Indiana shore of Lake Michigan) to climbing Mt. Everest.  I made it more than 80% up before the lack of oxygen started making me loopy.  Despite my rough start, I actually recovered pretty well and got into several nice strides.  By the middle of last week, however, NaNo, work, more work, home, and everything else just piled up and I crashed.  I made a pretty good rebound, writing nearly 10K in two days, but my heart just wasn’t in it.  And my brain was fried.  I really didn’t want to just type out a bunch of train-of-thought nonsense just to win a virtual sticker.

It was definitely a worthwhile experience, though.  My goal, of course, was to finish, but my intent was to learn from this, to pick up some tools and habits that will make me a more efficient writer without sacrificing quality, to learn how to persevere, to write when I need to, not just when I want to and still hold on to the truth and heart that makes any book worth reading.  Writing a novel on a month may be unrealistic; writing one in six isn’t.  I can do that now.  So yes, I won NaNo.

As far as the book itself, I’m going to keep plugging away, at my own (now quicker) pace.   I’m going to unshackle my inner editor and let him out of the cellar where he’s been eating Baby Ruths and watching pirate movies with Sloth for the past month.  I hope to have it done in a week or so.  After that, the book gets to sit in a (virtual) drawer for awhile.  Next up, polishing The Wind Maiden just a little more, rewriting my query letter until my fingertips bleed, and of course, working extra to pay for Christmas and the writer’s conference I want to go to in January.

Oh, yeah, and I want to start on the sequel this month, too.

November’s gone, but December’s just getting started.  Wish me luck.

So what are you post-NaNo (or didn’t-do-NaNo-in-the-first-place) December plans?


  1. You're still a NaNo-er, so many people gave up early on. 10k in two days is awesome.

    I, like you, cannot wait for the day I buy my own book, or better still for me, check it out in any library.

    Keep at it. 'Writing is a craft honed over many a deleted paragraph and rejection slip..' Don't know who said it but it's soooo true.


  2. It's not an easy task to do NaNo. I'm pretty sure you did just fine. Not finishing NaNo might be better than to finish it. Now you have something to work on and you don't have to rush.

  3. I didn't finish NaNo either, but I'm very excited to continue on in December :) NaNo was a great motivator to plan and start a new idea, but I think Jan or Feb are the best speed write months for me!

    Happy writing!

  4. Lou – Honestly, what kept me going, such as I did, was the genuine desire to have somebody read it. It’d be great to make a living at this, since that would give me more time to write. The real goal, though, is to be read.

    Ben – Yeah, chasing a deadline is good practice for, you know, chasing deadlines, but quantity is no substitute for quality. If you can achieve both, then you’re doing great.

    Erica – I agree. I’m already looking forward to the new year as breather time.