NaNoWriMo uber alles

1 Dec

This was my first year participating in National Novel Writing Month, which — as I found out — has a popular following all over the world and a great support system for neophytes like me. Here’s my diary of the experience from the last 30 days. The novel consumed my time like a lion attacking its prey (gotta polish those similes and metaphors if I want to be a serious writer!), but was a worthwhile test of my endurance and creativity.

Day 1 — a good day to start because I had the house to myself for a few hours. I’d been jotting ideas down for a few weeks. I had what I thought would be my first paragraphs hidden away in a notebook. I ripped out the page and got started. I revised the opening slightly and kept going. It took me a little over two hours to spew out 1,497 words. I’m so proud of me!
Day 2 — I waited until 2:30 for the house to be empty — a while after my usual caffeine rush. So the writing was slower, I had to tear myself away from editing the first 1,500 words, and I am still not sure how to organize this thing. But I made it to 3,100 words in two hours.
Day 3 — now at 5,000 words, just as NaNoWriMo advised. It was even slower going than yesterday, but I think I like where I’m going. I just hope I can come up with enough ideas and sustain the energy.
Day 5 — I have to keep remembering what the NaNoWriMo book said: Push the “Inner Editor” button to off. Don’t give the previous chapters more than a glance. I go back and forth on whether what I’m writing is worthy. A few passages stick out as funny or observant. I’m already thinking about how to find a first reader who doesn’t know me and can give an objective opinion. Anyway, if I write tomorrow, Saturday, I’ll be up over 10,000 words!
Day 6 — Weird to be working on the novel on the weekend, when I can’t be as secretive. I procrastinated until the afternoon, then my husband told me to get crackin’.
Day 11 — Yikes! I had a few days of laziness and procrastination and distractions and now I’m behind. I spent most of the day on it today, while no one was in the house, and made it to 16,440 words, but I’m supposed to be at 18,300. Meanwhile, I am looking at a magazine on my desk where I can just see the spine and it says, fortuitously, “A diamond is a piece of coal that stuck to the job.” Stick with it, Ross!
Day 12 — I’m within 600 words of being caught up, but it took a good chunk of the day. I have to write faster — I can’t be under the illusion that this is my “job.” The chance of publishing this thing is totally up in the air. I’m enjoying the pep talks through e-mails from NaNoWriMo headquarters, including one today from bestselling author John Green, who said, basically, “Just get the #%>#$#@# thing done!”
Day 13 — Ahead of the game at 22,100 words — just slightly ahead. Portions of it suck big time.
Day 19 — It should be a writer’s dream: a few days of solitude in a comfortable environment, far away from it all. I’m in my sister’s condo in Denver until Monday, and by that time I should be nearing 40,000 words. Yeah, right. I’m currently at 28,500.
Day 27 — Those days in Denver reinforced to me that this is a semi-serious endeavor. Sitting in the airport to go home, I got it to 34,000 words. During Thanksgiving Week, I hunkered down with it even more, ignoring a lot of freelancing, e-mail reading and housework I should have been doing. Good thing I wasn’t hosting turkey dinner, only making side dishes and desserts. The NaNoWriMo book and periodic pep talks by e-mail have been great. Today I’ve got it pretty well outlined to the end — it’s just the physical effort of sitting and typing, I hope. Status at 8:30 on a Saturday morning: 39,000 words.
Day 27 1/2 — I’ve have just written a crucial scene and my writing is SUCKY! That’s what I get for being in a hurry.
Day 28 — With three days and 8,000 words to go, I’m getting pretty tired of this. It shows in the writing. Note to self — Chapters 13 and 14 need to be brilliant, or else. I am moody about not being able to return to my normal weekend habits. I’m sittin’ here instead.
Day 28 1/4 — Killing off a character made me cry just a little, or maybe I’m upset because this effing thing is taking so long….
Day 28 9/10 — I cheated and added about five of my blogs from the last couple of years to bring the word count to almost 48,000. Will the NaNoWriMo crowd forgive me?
Day 29 — I admit it — my ending made me cry. Or maybe I’m just overflowing with joy that I topped 50,000 words. No champagne tomorrow, but I’ll take brownies after I give the last chapter one more read.
Day 30 — Cute video of NaNoWriMo organizers clapping for you once you reach the finish line. I am proud of myself — it was fun and invigorating, and I found my creative muse. Now, I’m going to let it sit for a month or so, see if I can find someone unbiased to read it and critique it (the person must practice saying, “This sucks!”) and then I’ll see if it’s worth revising and editing (which could take quite a while) and eventually publishing.

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