A funny thing happened during NaNoWriMo

I’ve written a draft in 30 days before, so when I signed up for NaNoWriMo I figured it would be a piece of cake. Well, somewhere around week three I hit a wall and dropped out of the race. But then a funny thing happened. Call it determination, or blind ambition, or sour grapes, but I picked it up a few days after I called it quits and my heroine showed up for the writing session.

The whole time I’d been writing as the narrator in close third person, but here was my heroine with her own voice, and God bless her she was hysterical. I took steno while she told me everything that was happening. In a couple of days I caught up to the daily goal, and yesterday, my winner’s badge came flying overhead when I put in my word count for the day. I didn’t even realize I had passed 50k. And then you know what happened? She didn’t shut up. This morning while I was washing my hair, she started to tell me about a friend of hers. Turns out he was already in my version, but in hers, he’s more important. And the people that I thought were important when I was narrating now barely factor in at all. They’re there, some of them now have different names, but she decided to keep them. Maybe she felt a little pity for me and all that uphill slogging I did the first three weeks.

Honestly, I’m slightly baffled. I had been fighting with this story  since November 1st, and now that it’s over, the story is flowing out of me, easy peasy.

Now, I KNOW that the characters are supposed to drive the story. And I know that I can’t drag a novel along on its ears, thrashing behind me in protest. I know all these things, but because I was writing for NaNo and because I wanted to win, all those things that I know went through the window. Should I have waited for my heroine to show up when she was ready? Or was it pushing myself to write the story down, no matter how hard it was, that forced her to show up in my head and start making corrections because she was so fed up of what a bad job I was doing at telling her tale?

Guys, I don’t know. But I’ll tell you this: I am. Totally. Doing this. Again.

See you next year, Wrimos!

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The trouble with NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo has been calling to me since I heard about it from a friend who did it years ago, and especially since I hatched a new idea for a book back in the summer. Plus, I like a challenge. The only thing I didn’t understand about this Nano thing was the “winning” part. When I joined I found out that the only requirement to win was completing 50,000 words in the 30 day time-period. It didn’t really seem like winning. It seemed more like giving gold stars for effort. Nevertheless, I joined figuring it would be fun and It’d be a breeze riding a wave of literary consciousness all through November.

Well It’s not.

In the first week, I was consistently ahead. Even the second week wasn’t too bad, and then I hit a wall. It felt like a literal wall. It felt hard and it bashed me in and I knew there was nothing beyond it but more and more layers of story-stopping brick. Suddenly the idea that someone could actually write 50,000 words in 30 days about the same subject definitely felt like a major accomplishment. Because it is. That gold star isn’t for effort, it’s for prevailing at a stamina-wrecking literary marathon.

Now, I probably write about 4-5000 words a day, between the blog, and freelancing and working on my non-fiction book projects. But it’s all different things, so although it’s still pretty tough and my days end with me exhausted in bed, my mind gets a little break from constantly working on one idea.

Right now, I’m about 4,000 words behind the Nano-set daily goal. Granted, I’m very close to my own personal goal of 30,000 words (which is still nothing to sneeze at) but I have several more scenes in mind, so I’m going to have to go over 30k just to satisfy coming to a conclusion.

I realize there is no way I will make it to 50k in the next eleven days. In any event, this story doesn’t need 20k more words. But man I hate to lose. Because if you’re not a winner… that OTHER word applies.

Catching up

After last week’s bout of Swine Flu I’ve been trying to catch up with work, the dreaded laundry and the mess-fest that is my house. Unfortunately yesterday was one of those days when things decided to crash all around me. I believe last night I fell-asleep mid-sentence during a conversation with my husband.

Fortunately, today is better.

But I’m still not caught up.

Yet.

Don’t even talk to me about NaNoWriMo.

T.G.I.F.

I was so out of it yesterday, I didn’t even realize I posted twice. An early snarky one and then a later more redeeming post. Well the good news is that I’m in much better shape today (my son as well) so I think we’re finally over the dreaded Swine Flu. The bad news is, I think it’s affected my eyes because I had to whip out my glasses this morning, and I haven’t worn those suckers in months.

Oh well. At least it’s Friday.

I’m still having a few struggles with how to outline the Creech bio. Her writing very closely parallels her life, so I’m trying to figure out if I should use the books as a guide for how to section off blocks of text in her bio, or if I should write about her life and her books separately. Either way would be pretty interesting, but writing about her life and weaving in her books and how they  relate or were inspired by her real-life events would be harder, but more interesting. Yeah. I think I’ll do it that way.  I did it separately in the Spinelli bio, and that came out good, but not great. OK. Now I have to take a closer look at those timelines…

In other news, my NaNoWriMo writing is going fairly well. I’ve managed to keep up with my word count despite my virus-induced delirium, and having a couple of deadlines this week. I still have absolutely no clue what that book is about, or how in heavens name the main character is going to solve her rather large and unwieldy problem, but so far, the action’s exciting. Lots of chases and close calls. That’s fun and it makes for quick writing, which helps with keeping up the word count. I may even make the whole 50,000 by the end of the month. No pressure though. The goal I have in my head is 30,000.

Alrighty, that’s all I have for now. Carry on!

Surprises

I’m surprised that the Swine Flu didn’t take my son and I down more. I’m even more surprised that even though we quarantined ourselves in the house, neither my husband or my daughter got it. My son and I are definitely on the mend. Neither of us want to lie in bed anymore, and we’re eating a little. But the whole quarantine thing is beginning to drive me nuts. I need to get out of the house. I’ll be careful, I swear! Yesterday when we went out to vote I used hand sanitizer before I went into the booth.

(Speaking of the election, the Christie win was a total surprise to me. And yes, I voted for Huttle for Englewood mayor. Because I’m a good little Democrat, that’s why. I was not surprised at the Bloomberg win in NY, but were I still a NY resident I would have voted for Bill Thompson. I just don’t think it was right for Bloomberg to buy his way into a 3rd term even though I think he was a terrific mayor for the last 8 years. It’s a matter of principle. And I’m beginning to wonder if anyone in politics has any principle at all. I’m still holding out hope for the Prez, but some days, I’m not so sure.)

Anyway. I need to get out of this house. I know we’ll all be better in a couple of days and then I can go about my business, but until then, I’m totally stir crazy. Web surfing is no substitute for going outside and doing stuff. And sitting on the porch covered in blankets just isn’t going to cut it.

At least it gives me more time to catch up with my NaNoWriMo novel. I’m all about the bright side these days. And for me, that’s quite a surprise.

Who sane?

My dad had this T-shirt a long time ago that a friend made for him. It had black iron-on flocked letters on a tan shirt. The front read “ROLAND” and the back read “WHO SANE?” I loved it because I’d never thought of playing with the sounds of my last name that way. Hosein. Who sane. Hysterical. I borrowed the shirt from my dad one day and he never saw it again. At least, not in his own closet.

nano_09_blk_participant_120x240_pngI’m reminded of that shirt today as I ponder my own insanity. If you’ve been reading this blog you know that I’ve been pretty overwhelmed lately with freelance projects, and on the brink of depression over what I deem are pitfalls in my fiction career. So why would I push myself, knowing that I’m right on the edge? Because I have no idea who I am if I’m not working crazy hard. So yesterday I signed up for NaNoWriMo against my better judgement. I know there is no way in hell that I will write 50,000 words in the next 29 days, but I’m excited to be writing anyway.

If I do manage to get some semblance of a draft down by the end of this month, I will consider it a major accomplishment. And if I don’t, I won’t really care. For once, I’m not putting any pressure on myself. I simply couldn’t resist the idea of riding a communal literary wave. Literary abandon! says the Office of Letters and Light. And I totally get the abandon part. I’m going to abandon stressful thoughts in regard to this story. If some days I only manage to write “boogidy boogidy boo!” 500 times, that’s going to be OK too.

Who knows, this might turn out to be the healthiest thing I’ve done all year.

NaNoWriMo ’09

Sunday begins  NaNoWriMo again. That’s National Novel Writing Month, in which a bunch of people hunker down and try to bang out a 50,000 word first draft in 30 days. This year I’m far too stressed-out to seriously consider such a thing, but the idea that thousands of people are all entrenched together in an act of literature for 30 days, gives me the steamy-eyes similar to how I feel at the Olympic opening ceremonies. I believe in a cosmic consciousness in which people who are purposefully pursuing the same thing create energy that others can feed off of and contribute to. It makes me wonder if writing a first draft in November is easier because so many people are doing it. Is it easier to run by yourself or with a group? It is, right? So I’ve heard. That’s why I think the same might apply here.

I don’t know. It’s enticing. I definitely want to do it, but I already have enough stress and I tend to put Ridiculously Massive Pressure on myself for everything, so I think it might be unwise. I’d still like to participate somehow. Maybe a smaller and less-stressful literary goal, like reading two classics in November. I still haven’t finished Invisible Man. That counts, right?