Tag Archives: nanowrimo

Tale As Old As Time, Song As Old As Rhyme

Well then – I’ve finished my story, on the eve of NaNoWriMo’s bitter end!  However, saying that, I didn’t reach 50,000 words.  I got to 37,821, which is well behind, but I knew it would be a struggle to reach the wordcount goal.  As I have stated from the beginning, this year’s NaNoWriMo was not about winning the competition for 50k, it was about finishing the story I wanted to write.  I had to rush a lot through the end of the plot but I have finished, and that’s what counts.

I still love it.  There are parts I don’t love, bits that will be chucked out like last week’s smelly tupperware of culinary nightmares hidden in the refrigerator of my mind.  But I have accepted that this is fine.  It was hard, but I have convinced myself, finally, to deal with the fact that novels do not jump out of anyone’s head fully-formed, perfect and without the need to edit.  I have labeled this draft Draft Zero, and am already beginning Draft One which has already markedly improved upon the tone and flavour of what came before.

Does anyone else feel like words have flavour?  Like some books you try to devour (I love to devour my books, in one sitting if possible) are so bland and tasteless, they fall flat both in your mind’s voice and your mind’s eye.  The images they inspire are a dull kind of greyscale.

Or maybe it’s just me.  I digress.

I’m feeling pretty victorious about this whole endeavour.  It has to be said that I thought it would be impossible to do this with a clingy toddler, and with Thanksgiving and the visit of some much-beloved Noodles for whom I happily forwent writing to spend time with.  I will always prioritise my family, but I’m also pleased as punch (is punch really so pleased?) to have been able to have my pumpkin pie and eat it too, to mix my metaphors with reckless abandon.

I will now rest my tired wrists, my sore and unfocused eyes, and recover from this final writing sprint.  And then, after a bit of time away to give me perspective, I’ll jump right back in again.

Progress Report

I hope that there will be a time, years from now, when I am reading this story to my son, in all its finished and complete glory, that I can point to a scene and tell him, ‘I wrote this while feeding you soup, when you were just a little baby.’

Though it might be quite a few years before he’s ready for this story, in all honesty.  It’s a bit grim.

I am enjoying this story so much more than any other novel I have written.  I believe in its message, and I feel that it deals with so much real life humanity, even in the guise of a beast – which is kind of the point.

If you are reading this having read my blog in the past, you might recall that I often struggle with writer’s block.  I haven’t had the luxury of that condition this time.  My writing time is only an hour here or there during naptimes, or when I can snatch some moments when  my silly monkey-baby is happy to entertain himself.

I even *gaspshockhorror* turn on the TV purely for distraction purposes.  I’m actually doing that right now – I know you’re scandalised by my parenting choices.

The one thing I’m not sure about if is this novel will reach 50,000 words.  It depends on what happens after the Crucial Scene which I am actually writing right now, at just over 20k.  I’m not sure if there’s another 30k in it.  But so long as I finish the story, which was my own personal goal for this month, I’m not sure that I care about it not reaching the NaNoWriMo wordcount goal.  My only hesitation is that a shorter story may not be considered a novel.

So we’ll see how it goes.  I’m only halfway through November, after all!

I’m ba-ack!!!

Every time I add a new element to my life, it takes a little while to find the balance needed to maintain all of the disparate parts which make up my whole.  This time it’s not taken me as long as the last hiatus, but then this change hasn’t been quite as life-changing as having a newborn baby.  I just got a new job, is all.

But even so, I had to figure out how on earth I could fit writing back into my life again with so much less free time than before.  So I decided to set myself to write in NaNoWriMo again this year.

I love my novel this year.  I simply adore it.  I’ve never had such strong feelings for a NaNoWriMo project before, so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.

I may not update here much, as my precious writing time will be spent, well, writing.  But I’m back, I’m writing, and I’m hoping something special comes out of this.

 

In Which My Mind Decides Things For Me

Where else but the internet can you create a book cover for a novel that hasn’t even been written yet?

It always happens.  My mind never listens to what I tell it to do.

I was all set and ready to write my first literary novel, my exciting new project of awesomeness, but no.  My mind decided I need to be writing a fantasy epic instead…  Yes.  It decided this without my prior consent.

It goes like this.

I’d told myself, no, I wasn’t going to do NaNoWriMo this year.  And yet, there I was on November 1st, only just yesterday, logging in to the website and updating my author details.  Sure, that’s fair enough, maybe I will just ignore it from here on out.  I’m supposed to be writing this literary novel, and I don’t think it’s a good NaNo project especially as I’ve already started it a bit.  Blah, blah, etc.

Cue today.  I had one of my shower epiphanies, where I find myself having the best “eureka” moments when in the shower.  Don’t know why, maybe washing my hair kickstarts my brain or something.  Anyways, the epiphany was to do with how I had been struggling with complexity in one particlar fantasy novel, but if I just combined several separate projects into one, then it might just lead itself to inherent complexity.  I then start to fit together various false-start novels, and thus was born my new epic fantasy novel: Three Kingdoms!

Fair enough, I think to myself, I’ll put that on the back burner while I do this literary thing.  But then, I found myself logging back on to the NaNoWriMo website and filling in the novel info page with Three Kingdom‘s synopsis!  Read it, it’s fairly ridiculous.  Just like the mind that created it!

Oh well, in the end it dusts off three projects of mine that had stalled and were going nowhere, breathing new life into them.  I fully admit to simply copy/pasting what I’d written of each project and creating my first three chapters, which is cheating by NaNoWriMo standards, but oh well, I don’t go into NaNoWriMo to “win” – I go into it to make myself write!  So, to that end, I’m already winning.

Huzzah!

NaNoWriFAIL

Well then.

No, I did not finish 50k – I got to about 32,000 and those last couple thousand were like pulling teeth.  For my original auto-biographical effort, Falconry for the Modern Girl, I got to 30k with ease.  Then the story stopped, simply because I got up to the present time.

As I said in my previous post what I intended to do for the final 20k was to write some fictional shenanigan.  I hoped that the fun of fiction plus the high of a new project would make for enjoyable and easy writing.  This was not true.

I ended up starting several things, each lasted about a page and half, which could have theoretically been novels.  The only problem is that they would not have been good novels.  NaNoWriMo has never been about quality, merely quantity – not saying that people who write in quantity can’t also write quality material, but that’s not the focus, the 50k end goal is.  But this is not my aim in life anymore.

I know I can write 50k in a month, I did it twice before which is just often enough to prove that the first time wasn’t a fluke.  But what I’m struggling to do now is to write the sort of epic, sweeping drama which has hitherto escaped me.  The complexities and depth are what I’d like to focus on, and that’s something well outwith the goals of wordcount.

I think that if I’d decided to go ahead with NaNoWriMo this year with more time to prepare, I could have given the sort of novel I have in mind a try.  But my fallback has always been the “by the seat of your pants” style of NaNo-ing, where I start the month with a blank document and an epiphany.  But I think I’m forced to reconsider this as a style of novel-writing if I’m ever to write the things I feel I’m capable of.

I want to keep at the discipline of writing every day, though.  And me and the Husband are currently preparing our second bedroom to become a study, as soon as we can source the furniture!  I think having a separate work-space will definitely help my focus.  As I’m writing this right now, I’m currently sitting on the sofa watching television!  I’m a girl who can multitask, but it’s not terribly condusive to ones best efforts!

So while I might have “lost” NaNoWriMo this year, I’ve gained valuable insight about how I need to go about writing from now on!  And not to say that I’ll never NaNo again, and in fact after a year of carefully planned and thoroughly thought-out writing I might be itching for some seat-of-my-pants action!

Jumping Ship

I’m now over 10,000 words behind in NaNoWriMo, how daunting!  I think that what this process has taught me this year is a simple lesson: I am not a non-fiction writer.

In novels when you get stuck, or you find the narrative failing, you can add a new twist and get it all going again.  And often those last-minute twists are the best things that can happen to the narrative, because not only do you surprise the reader but you surprise yourself.  And if you can surprise yourself, as the author, than that makes for very exciting writing and reading!

But in non-fiction you just write what happens.  You can tweak it a bit for better narrative flow, you can gloss over unimportant things, but there’s very little imaginative leeway.  And that’s where I’m having problems.

So for the rest of this slowly-dwindling month I might jump ship on my non-fiction project, which is basically finished anyways, and move on to a 20k fictional short story/novella to add to the 30k I’ve written already.  That way I can complete my 50k goal, or at least attempt to.

I hope to write a lot today, since it’s a miserable rainy Friday.  I don’t even have work until Monday so this can be a power weekend.    I usually have the best wordcount from the first day of a new story anyway, I just have to find something fun in my head to write!

Wish me luck, internet.  I think I might need it.

NaNoWriBLEH

I hit 27k on Nov 16th, and was ahead of schedule.  Since that time I have written nothing else.  This has been due to work, work-related parties and life in general taking over.  HOW RUDE.

This may be the first year since 2009 that I don’t complete 50k by the end of the month.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  Firstly, I tell myself, ‘Meh, it was just a personal goal afterall.’  And then I tell myself to shut up.  Personal goals are just as important as any other.

Besides the work and life commitments getting in the way, the other reason it’s been hard to sit down to write is that I’ve come to the end of my narrative.  I wrote myself an ideas chart at the very beginning of this venture, and apart from the narrative there are several points I haven’t yet included, but those are non-narrative and generally a bit random.  They just don’t seem to flow.  But I’ll probably write them anyway.

Even including those points, however, I’m not at all convinced I can nearly double what I’ve written by the end of the month and hit that 50k goal.  Maybe I’ll have to start writing something completely else and add up word counts just to say I wrote 50k in total?  Is that cheating?  Can you cheat in NaNoWriMo??  Well, you probably can by stealing someone else’s 50k+ work and calling it your own, but what’s the point in that I ask you?  Fools.

Well I shall persevere, but I just might not make 50k.  I suppose I can live with that, providing I end the month with a completed first draft.  That shall be my personal NaNoWriMo goal, regardless of its wordcount.  I’ve only ever used NaNoWriMo as a tool to facilitate daily writing, and in that respect I’ve been doing alright … apart from the last week!  So I’ll just have to ignore the competitive side of me which seethes when I see other people with enormous wordcounts (say what?  you’re doing THREE 50k novels in November????  BASTARDS!!!) and just focus on what I’m doing.

It’s tough, people.

NaNoWriMo Week One and Being Disillusioned By Favourite Novels

I’ve been remiss in posting once more, but this time I don’t feel so guilty!  Because I was working fairly constantly, in what free time I had I needed to decide between either writing this NaNo novel or writing about writing this NaNo novel.  I don’t think I’d be much of a writer if I’d chosen to do the latter over the former!

It’s been going pretty well, though!  I’m not sure how much of what I’ve written these past few days are going to remain in the final editing stage, but this is exactly the kind of splurgey writing NaNo was made for.  When I get stuck about what to write, I include a chapter purely about a rant I’ve been thinking of for the past few months, or a list of technical terms and explanations.  It definitely fills up the wordcount that way!

And wordcount is such a big deal in NaNoWriMo, I get obsessed with checking mine and then if I hear that someone else has written some exponentially higher number than mine, even if I’m surpassing the daily goal every day, I get stupidly competitive.  Sometimes it’s good because it forces me to write more, but other times it just annoys me.  Which is why when I go on the forums on the website, which I do only rarely, I choose to go to the “writers in distress” board because I can crow (to myself, mind you) about how much further I’ve gotten than other people!  Isn’t that terrible?  I’m shocked, myself!

I’m finding it a bit difficult to write in one respect, which is that I have forgotten a lot of the more interesting stories I had from my first few weeks volunteering!  I’ve resorted to reading my own blog and even tried to search through old chats on gmail to see what I’ve told people as it happened!  I’m sure it’ll come back to me, and if not I’ll just take authorial liberties with the truth.  No one else will ever know, anyways!  Except that I’ve just told the internet…

Oh well.

The other thing I’ve been doing in my limited spare time has been rereading a fantasy trilogy I’ve loved since I was a teenager.  This is part of Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar series, namely the Vanyel story arc.  Some of you will perhaps know which books I mean, but most of you will be like, eh whatever.  Regardless, I was obsessed with the whole series as I reached age 12 or so, and then continued to be obsessed well into my university years.

Only now I’m becoming disillusioned.

The problem is mainly to do with how Mercedes Lackey writes and not the characters themselves so much.  Firstly, it sounds really pedantic of me, but can she write anything without obscene use of italics?  It’s like every single sentence has about five points of emphasisSheesh.

And at the points in the story we find ourselves in generally, the characters seem to almost always be at the point of melodrama about any given situation, even if the situation is one that happened well before the narrative began and one could assume that the characters had resolved themselves to it before now.  But no, everyone must be overwrought at all times.  I suppose the argument could be made for this being a ploy to keep the reader interested, but I just get irritated.  I’m like, “hey this happened years ago, get over it already.”  But no one ever listens to me in these novels.  Surprisingly enough.

I think I loved that as a teenager because when you’re at that stage in your life, every situation is at the point of melodrama, and everyone must be overwrought at all times.  But perhaps I am a bit more sensible these days.  Only a bit.

Also, in this series there’s a very rare condition, i can’t think of a better word to use to describe it than that, when two people are so much in love that they’re called “lifebonded” and it means that they’re soulmates and generally it’s a big deal.  It’s oh so rare, but wait – everyone is freaking lifebonded!  Come on now.  It gets to the point when, as soon as you meet another couple and suddenly they realise they’re lifebonded, you’re no longer like “aww true love” but merely “pfft not another one.”  I don’t think this is what Ms. Lackey intended.

And then, just when you think you’re on saccharin overload, you then get to the part where Ms. Lackey decides to put her characters through torture and death – often literally.  She doesn’t hold back in that respect, and sometimes it has the desired effect of shocking the reader but when she piles up the bodies you start to get inured to it.

So basically I don’t like these novels so well as I used to, but I still enjoy rereading them.  As I said, it’s mainly to do with how she writes but the characters themselves are still my old friends.  And it’s nice to visit every once in a while.

But honestly could they be anymore melodramatic??

Falconry For The Modern Girl

I think I’ve worked out what I’ll write for NaNoWriMo this year, since I’ve been looking over my notes for The Falconer’s Apprentice and I really don’t think I’ll do it justice in a month.  Instead I plan to write a semi-autobiographical piece called Falconry for the Modern Girl because a lot of people ask me how I got into being a falconer in the first place.

I hate to say it, but I feel like this is a good project because it might have marketable appeal.  As much as I enjoy writing for writing’s sake, if I could get a book published it would make a huge difference in me and the Husband’s life right now.  It might mean the difference between him working the shitty hotel job he hates, which keep us from seeing each other for days at a time, and him pursuing either a PhD or teaching degree which he’d really love to do.

So this book will follow my progress from the very first cold December morning when I nearly fainted when gutting chicks for the first time, to being thrust into running the centre on my own after mere months of training, to deciding to train the Goshawk to hunt, the joy and exhiliration of when he made his first kill with me – and any other adventures which will follow in November.  There will also be random chapters thrown in about the research I’ve been doing into medieval falconry, perhaps other people’s experiences if they wish to relate them to me, and general stuff about the various birds we have at the centre for background information.

Because of its auto-biographical nature I think this will be a great train-of-thought project which I won’t become too stressed or frustrated by.  The main point is to just make myself write again in a routine so as to force myself back into a disciplined mindset again, and the secondary point is to write an interesting book about a subject not many have the insight or opportunity to write about.

To NaNo Or Not To NaNo?

I’d basically decided not to do NaNoWriMo this year, but after several unproductive weeks I’m questioning that decision.  For those of you who don’t know (heathens!) NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s essentially a competition to see who can write a 50,000+ word novel in one month.  The prize is a feeling of self-worth.

I entered for the past two years, and “won” both times with The Long Road Home (2010) and Cobault (2009).  Neither were finished to my exacting standards, and I’ve spent a lot of time trying to edit Cobault and failing to complete it, since it required heavy rewriting, but at least I could say I had two new novels under my belt which taught me a lot about the process.

Because I’ve been so unmotivated to write, but then guilty and upset with myself for not doing so, I think that, while I don’t believe my current project itself is fit to be written in a month, it would kickstart me back into writing regularly again.  My only decision will be what to write.

I’m nervous about trying to write my new project in this way because, as I’ve stated, I don’t think this is a story which can be rushed.  Writing a novel in a month is the very definition of rushing.  But that’s the story I currently have in my head, so the question is: should I put it aside, or just go for it anyway?

You might say, “just try it, and edit it later if its crap”, but I got stuck with Cobault in that later editing stage and got so frustrated with it that I never properly finished.  When huge chunks need rewriting completely and other chunks need to be reintegrated it makes my mind hurt trying to put them all together!  But maybe this is something I just need practice with as well?

Whatever the case, in 3 days time I will be embarking upon the hectic, frantic, repetitive-stress-injury-laden task of writing a novel once more, because my lazy mind needs some kicking up the arse.