Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Kicking Off NaNo!

That's right! It's that time of year again! The month where I get excited about trying to write a 50,000-word novel for about a week, and then spend the rest of the month whining about how far behind I am....

Again, real quick for anyone not familiar with NaNo; the concept is to start writing a 50,000-word novel on November 1st, and complete it by November 30th. If you manage the 50,000-word novel within 30 days, you are considered a National Novel Writing Month "Winner." There's no real prize aside from a neat icon on your NaNo profile pic and the ability to download/use "NaNo Winner" icons for your online presence. Mostly, "winning" NaNo is for the bragging rights, the pride of completing a novel in such strained circumstances, and the realization that you CAN write a novel. You might want to stretch it out over a couple of months to not stress out, and that way you have time to edit and polish, but if you can write 50,000 words in one month, you can easily do it in a season, or six months, or even once a year. This is your jumping point. This is your motivation. This is your chance to stop postponing, and finally BECOME that writer you always knew you were.

It's also a great time to test what works best for you: plan or fly by the seat of your pants, write in the morning or at night or sometime in between, write a few minutes daily or one lump chunk once or twice a week, secluded area or bustling coffee house, edit the last chapter before writing the next one or wait and edit all at once, etc. I do have to stress, though, that the nature of NaNo is one where editing is placed on the backburner. You just don't have the time to go back and edit while still making enough progress to complete in a month. Get the novel written during NaNo; then edit. There's even a mantra for NaNo: "Take my inner editor." Basically, asking to shut down the part of the writing brain that sees what's wrong with the work and wants to fix it before the work is complete.

Anyway, except for last year, I have tried NaNo every year since my first attempt in 2012. I have failed miserably each year. I think my first attempt I managed close to 25,000 words, and haven't gotten close since. Over the course of four NaNo attempts I STILL haven't hit 50,000 words; total, among all of my novels. It's a kind of depressing thought, but I'm still excited about tackling this rival again.

Mostly because I'm trying to do a few things different this year. First: Jolene. I'm super excited about her and have been struggling to write anything NOT about her for nearly two months. I've been consistently writing, too. So, even if it isn't a complete story when all is said and done December 1st, I'm fairly confident that I'll at least hit the word-count goal. Second: I have a job that doesn't suck the life out of me, and, in fact, it allows me time to write WHILE at work. So I should be able to get my daily word count in AND still socialize/watch football. That will take a large load off of my stress-plate, and probably make it easier for me to stick with it this year. Third: I'm participating in write-ins with my writing group. At first I was bummed because they were every Thursday this month; while I'd normally be at work. Well, the Writing Fates aligned, or something, because I coincidentally have two out of the three Thursdays off. I'll miss next week's write-in, but I'll just go to the "early seating" for group.

See, not only did our writing group reserve a room in the library for our evening write-in sessions every Thursday this month - minus Thanksgiving, of course - but we also reserved our normal bi-weekly Tuesday room an hour earlier. That way NaNo-ers can come in to do a quick write sprint together before our meeting officially starts. For those that don't know, write-ins are pretty much exactly how they sound: a group of writers gather together to quietly do write sprints - writing continuously for a short time; say ten minutes - as well as talk about their progress in-between the sprints. With all this time specifically dedicated to writing, and then talking to others about my novel, I think I might actually stay on track! I will get pumped and excited about my story. And continuing to roleplay as Jolene each week will just help me stay in character more. I'll feed off of the games, and the writing will help me better evolve Jolene into a more concrete person.

I'm super psyched about this year's NaNo. I just hope this excitement lasts, because this week proved that it can snap and shrivel up on a dime.

I started off decently enough. I managed another flash fiction for Ronoxym's writing challenge. I had to cheat this time, though. One of my rules is that I'm not allowed to use a pre-existing character that I created. Well.... I did. I used Jolene. As I already mentioned, I can't think of anything to write EXCEPT for something dealing with her. Especially with NaNo, I HAVE to be laser focused on her, or I lose my momentum.

I considered it part of my prep-work to make up for the rule-break. Last Tuesday I had spent a great deal of time working with Jolene's timeline some more. I figured out when Jolene got pregnant, discovered her pregnancy, as well as when the pregnancy ended each time. Still not sure how she REACTED to each ending, nor do I know why she gave up her daughter, but I have a start. I also know that the beau she had while with the Thieves Guild was more outwardly hurt by Jolene's stillborn son than she was.

This is where the flash fiction came in. I just had this quiet moment between Jolene and Sandy pop into my head, and not leave me alone for about three days. I eventually caved and wrote it for this week's challenge entry; rule-break be damned! At least I'm still writing and keeping these brief. I'm still not sure if I'm "getting" the concept of flash-fiction, though. These seem more like scenes than mini-stories. Is that how it's supposed to be?

Anyway, if you want to read about Jolene and Sandalah while having a quiet moment near the end of her pregnancy, feel free to check it out:

"My Little Thief"

Things went quickly awry shortly after publishing that story.

Namely: I lost my flash drive. A few years back, to commemorate my first attempt at NaNo - even if I did fail pathetically - I bought one of their flash drives that is embedded into a plastic wrap bracelet. The cover for the drive is the closing connector of the bracelet. It even has "My Novel" and the NaNo crest printed on it:
Point being; it's a cool flash drive!

That's not really why I was upset, though. I'm sure I could still find and purchase another one online. The real kicker is that - after four years of having the thing and only using it to transfer things from one computer to another - this year I was actually using it as a hard drive. All of my prep work I had been doing was on that drive. My images of Jolene's past loves and lovers, along with all of their names. The backstories of each romance. The time frame for each romance. Jolene's timeline I was painstakingly working on for a couple of weeks. The detailed reason why each romance ended. Notes on more to research and figure out. All of it. Everything I had been building throughout October was just gone.

That happened Thursday. I tried to move past it on Friday. I tried to remember that I had most of it in my head, and I just needed to recreate it, or add to it on my netbook with the hope of finding the drive before today. I opened up my netbook Friday; Saturday; Sunday. Each time with the call to just move on and write more so I was prepared for November. Each time I was stuck in an "I can't believe I lost it all!" writing funk. I couldn't work at all on my writing. I was too depressed, and so not a single word came to mind.

I did manage to find the drive again while revisiting a friend on Sunday. Crisis averted, I was once more excited for this month. However, there was still four days lost to writing funk. I'm now backing up all this info, and then backing up the back-up. I'm going to make sure I can have SOME way of reaccessing this stuff if something like this happens again. No more writing funks due to lost work!

I did manage to get a bunch of reading in during those lost four days, however.

I haven't really updated you guys on my reading progress in a while, have I? I keep meaning to include it in a weekly double-post to make up for missing two weeks, and yet the week runs away from me before I get a chance to write the second post.

I'm going to once again attempt a double post this week, especially since NaNo will still be fresh, and my word-count should still be on-par. In the meantime, I'll at least leave you with an updated checklist for you to see where I am at.

I'm currently working on "a book published this year" by reading Rick Riordan's "The Hidden Oracle"; the first book in his new series "The Trials of Apollo."

I think I'm also borrowing "1984" for my banned book; still need to figure out a book I should have read in school. I may just sub with a second "published this year" and read Riordan's "Hammer of Thor"; the second book in his "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard" series. Either way, I need to write my own novel while reading two books this month - or next month - in order to complete this challenge on time. About a week or so in and I'm about 70% done reading "The Hidden Oracle" so I probably can get another book in this month.

Anyway, here's my updated checklist. Anyone else working on this challenge? How are you doing with it? Did you beat it already? Getting close? Let me know in the comments.
Challenge created by ModernMrsDarcy

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