Monday, November 13, 2017

It's NaNo Time!

NaNoWriMo snuck up on me this year. I knew it was coming but I just kept pushing it off.

Like many things for the past several months, writing got pushed onto a back burner. At the time, I thought it was a good thing, to give myself a break and some breathing room to cope with life. Since September, my brain has finally started percolating on the story again, trying to work around plot holes and dead ends, but I never could make myself sit down and work on it.

Then suddenly it was November 6th and I hadn't so much as opened my WIP, let alone written a single word, and that familiar overwhelming frustration of failure set in and told me that now there wasn't even a point in starting, because there was no way I could catch up.

But on November 7th I told that thought to shove off and wrote 4497 words. Just to prove it wrong. Since then, I haven't written consistently, but I've made good progress, considering.

The primary reason I didn't knuckle under to that bout of doubt is because I know what I'm capable of. And thanks to NaNo's updated stats through the years, I have recorded proof of it, too.
If I once wrote over 10,000 words in a single day and over 180,000 words in a single month, I can make up for the six measly days of November.

And I feel alive again. Working on my story, writing -it makes me feel like me again. Many writers have said variations of this but I suddenly know what it really truly means to say I write to live.

It also helps that I'M ON FIRE WITH IDEAS. The history of this WIP Glass & Cinders is long and convoluted. Many years ago, it started out as a short story, which most of my friends and family told me was perhaps the best thing I'd ever written but that it need to be longer. I totally agreed with them. Even while writing the short story -for a prompt contest with a 2k word limit- I knew it needed to be a longer piece eventually. My first attempt, during NaNo 2012, was an absolute disaster. Because of the short story, I knew what I wanted to write, so for the first time ever I made an outline for my story. A scene-by-scene outlining detailing all events of the novel. And it was the most boring piece of drivel I'd ever written. I only managed to write 50k out of sheer willpower and as soon as December hit I shoved it to the side in disgust.

Why did I bother with the 50k on a terrible project? Well, firstly, I couldn't not write 50k; I couldn't fail NaNo! I've never done that (and I don't ever plan to). But mostly because I kept going back to that outline and thinking how good it sounded. It simply wasn't translating. I eventually boiled it down to the fact that there wasn't enough conflict and plot in the outline to carry an entire novel or even a novella. And I really, really wanted to write a novel.

Over the years I've re-outlined, overhauled, and completely revised this WIP maybe seven times. I've discarded characters, changed entire timelines, and written hundreds of thousands of words on plot aspects I wound up throwing out a month and a half later. Each time I've done one of these major overhauls, a new piece would fit perfectly into place -and knock half a dozen out of whack. Suffice to say, this has been my most infuriating and temperamental project to date.

My biggest problem, I think, has been my obsession of outlining this story. I've always been more of a pantser, but so many aspects of this story demanded an outline, so I've obliged. This November, however, I kind of tossed it out. I've kept a structure from the outline, but for the first time in years, I'm concerning myself more writing the story, getting those words down, letting the story and characters guide me, than trying to force them into my outline.

And, I have to tell you, it's liberating. The characters which have proven so incredibly uncooperative are suddenly showing me different aspects and angles of themselves. Plot pieces are falling together, development arcs are blossoming before my eyes, and a character that I tossed out of the project back in 2012 tapped me on the shoulder yesterday and said, "Pardon me, but this is where I belong and this is the role I play." AND IT FREAKING WORKS.

I haven't felt this in-tune with a story in a very, very long time and it is wonderful.

It's not my most-impressive word count. I think it is probably the worst I have ever done during a NaNo ever. But that doesn't bother. I'm writing again and I'm loving it for the first time in forever. That's what matters.

I've also been digging up some really good resource materials, namely:

The Celtic Myth Podshow (there are a TON of podcasts on Celtic mythology, folklore, and history, but so far this is my favorite)
Why Didn't Cinderella "Just Leave?" -This blog post from Pages Unbound talks about the reasons why Cinderella endures the abuse of her step-family and whether it's justified story-wise. Or, more accurately, whether the fact that she doesn't "just leave" is justified story-wise. If you're like me, maybe you never actually thought about the abuse angle, but yeah, poor Cinderella isn't just misused by her step-family -she is abused. This is great food for thought as I'm working on my own Cinderella retelling.

My blog posts might be a little sparse this month because of NaNo and all its ensuing chaos, but I do have several ARCs to read this month as well, so look forward to some of these reviews through December:
I, uh, maybe forgot how crazy this time of year is and maybe forgot just how many titles I have to read. BUT THEY ALL LOOKED SO GOOD!!!

How's your NaNoNovel going?
If you're not a WriMo, how are you keeping busy this November?


  1. Love to hear your thoughts on Mysteries of Cove, which I still need to check and see if my library has. Also, Potion Master which I know hardly thing about, but love the cover and sounds interesting from blurb on goodreads.

    1. Isn't that cover gorgeous?! But I love almost everything Shadow Mountain puts out in YA and MG. When I was a teenager I almost exclusively read their stuff for the longest time.
      I've read and reviewed book one and book two of Mysteries of Cove and I really enjoyed them.

  2. my NaNo experience was the opposite. I write like 15K the first week and then.. nothing. The holidays and other family commitment got in the way! :( [sobs] I'm so happy to hear that you have been so in-tune with your story! Looking forward to hear the next update. TWO MORE DAYS!

    1. Sometimes I wonder why they picked November for NaNo. I mean...NOVEMBER. That's the beginning of the craziest time of the year. But I guess there's always something going on.
      Hopefully your writing gets better after the crazy holidays have past. ^_^