NaNoWriMo, Week 4

After getting over my initial fears of finishing the book, I wrote the last scene for the last chapter on Thursday morning.  Then I started thinking about the epilogue.

This is tricky, because there seems to be, in my experience, two main types of epilogue.  The one where everything gets wrapped up neatly with a bow, and the kind where interpretation is left up to the reader.  I want to walk a fine line between the two.  I want to wrap up certain things, but I don’t want everything perfect.  I want it messy, but with hope.  So, I went to Sahar, who suggested I read the manuscript as a whole and see what needs to be tied up and what can be left to the readers imagination.  Then, I walked away from the computer to think.  With ten days to go before I had to finish, I afforded myself a little time to contemplate.

Or at least that’s what I thought I was doing, but of course the voice in my head demanded I do it immediately.  And so, that afternoon, I wrote the words “The End,” and I won NaNoWriMo 2019.  I was exhilarated, momentarily.  I don’t know what I thought I would feel once the first draft was finished, but the sense of sadness that came over me was definitely not expected.  “What will I do tomorrow?” became the question.

“Edit,” the voice in my head responded.

Here are some things I have edited:  poems, plays, essays, short stories.  I have never in my life edited a novel, and I didn’t even know where to start.  So, off I weren’t to Google University to figure it out, and of course asked Twitter for advice.  Then, on Friday, I edited my first two chapters.  I also started working on a Thanksgiving themed blog, but had to be careful not to disclose my winning because I was waiting to do so here.

On Saturday, for the first time in 23 days, I did not sit down at my computer.  On Sunday, I only sat for a short time.  I couldn’t concentrate.  So, I went to read my new Stephen king book, which was a horrible idea because I found myself in awe of the man yet again and thus believing myself to be a talentless hack. 

Monday, I sat down in earnest, thought I was not really in the mood.  I got myself my coffee and my favorite sweatshirt.  My office was trashed because the kids were camped out playing Burnout Paradise on my computer all weekend, so I tidied up a little.  Then I edited two chapters, discovered one of them is way too short, and tried to come up with a thousand words to describe a Wal-Mart, to no avail.  I pushed on to finish editing most of part 1, then retired for the day because editing makes me frustrated. 

What I hate most is that it’s not easily completed.  Every time I finish a chapter I want to immediately move on to the next while it’s still fresh in my mind.  However, sitting at the desk for five hours is not ideal, so I must force myself to take breaks. 

On Tuesday I edited two more chapters and then got stuck in a spot where I described a scene happening differently than it is portrayed elsewhere in the book.  So, I deleted all of that and tried to replace the words.  Eventually I got frustrated and went to make a pot of coffee and watch 911.

Wednesday morning, I edited part 2.  First round done, I opened a new word file to start round two.   Tomorrow is a reading and notes day, light considering that it’s Thanksgiving.  I write this today because I know I won’t have time tomorrow, what with the Macy’s parade and the pie baking and the dinner at mother’s house.

I plan to send my manuscript to my beta on December 1st, as a sort of early Xmas gift.  I have worked my butt off this November and I hope my fellow NaNoWriMo participants are proud of what they’ve accomplished, whether they won or not.  Even if you only wrote 1000 words, it’s still 1000 words you didn’t have a month ago.  Every little bit counts.  In the end, I am very happy I decided to do NaNo.  It pushed me to complete something that I have wanted to do for a long time, and for that I am grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving.

NaNoWriMo, Week 3

After I updated last week, I managed to figure out my timeline problems and get back on track.  I dropped about 1500 more words, and was satisfied.  Then, I started tinkering with a side project, because I am a glutton for punishment.

A while back I wrote a little story called Super Joe.  It’s a rhyming tale of a teddy bear who saves his person from the boogie man.  It’s cute, and I want to do something with it, so after I wrote my quota I spent the rest of the day editing and fine-tuning that, and looking into illustrators.  Twitter came through for me with tons of leads, and I am currently talking to one person about a collaboration.

So, Friday morning got me working on that instead of the WIP, which was aggravating, but I find myself stuck at a certain spot.  I’m still discovering this new character that appeared halfway through the book, and I am having trouble getting her “right.”  That morning I did 500 words, not the greatest but I definitely moved along the plot.  Then I went and updated my Pinterest board and read some articles.

On Saturday, I didn’t write in the morning as I usually do.  Instead I waited until afternoon when I was at my friend Sahar’s house.  She is also doing NaNo, so we planned a slumber party/write-in.  To be honest I wasn’t much in the mood to write at first because I just wanted to talk with my friend, but we went to lunch and by the time we got back to her parents’ house we were all caught up.  So, to the laptops we went.  I was able to drop 2000 words but realized the chapter is too short, so back to the drawing board.

Sunday morning was lovely.

I sat on the sofa in Sahar’s living room with the sun streaming in my face and a fresh cup of hazelnut coffee, and immediately dropped 1400 words, pushing me past the 40k mark.  Another cup of coffee and a cigarette break later and out came another 700.  Then another 1000.  By 11am I was at 42,365.  I got home and transferred everything to my desktop.  I considered starting chapter 15, but it wasn’t fully formed in my head yet, so instead I watched the Bills kick the Dolphins asses across the field and spent time with Hubs.

Monday brought roughly 250 words in the morning, mostly just stuff to drive the action along, so not what I enjoy writing.  Still, it flowed pretty smooth, and I was prepared to come back to it in the afternoon, where I finished chapter 16.

Tuesday:  Chapter 17 is a doozy.  I was going to take a day or two to get my thoughts together on it, but then I wrote 1200 words and figured what the heck, might as well.  I’m starting to feel a little sad, though.  I am very close to the end of the story.  I’m on the last chapter now, and I am excited to see where my characters are going to end up, but I’m also sad that I have to say goodbye to them.  I’m not writing a series, there will be no follow-up here.  It’s a stand-alone book.  But…I want to give them a good sendoff.  I want to imagine a world where they are happy now, despite the horrible things I have put them through.  I did another 750 after breakfast, and outlined the remainder of the chapter.

On Wednesday I wasn’t feeling it.  I usually make it to the computer by 8am, but didn’t drag myself into the office until after 10.  I managed a little over 1000, and was satisfied with that.  What I’m not satisfied with is how short this book is going to be.  I assumed I would easily hit 60k, but it looks like it will top out just over 50.  Of course, this is pre-revision, so there will be much I add to the first part to foreshadow the second.  We shall see what the final product is.  Of course, that’s not the point right now.  The point is to get the words out.

Which brings me to this morning, where I am sitting and staring at my last chapter, wondering how to write this bad boy.  Having a very “wat r words?” moment.  It’s the last scene before the epilogue, so it’s vital that I get it right.  Or I could just push though and get to the end and worry about it in edits.  That’s not how I roll, though…I do a lot of editing as I go and I really want to capture the very essence of what I’m trying to say.  So, no writing has been done so far today.  Just thinking.  Lots and lots of thinking.

I ended the week at a little over 47k, and I still have more than a week to go.  I hope my other NaNo buddies are out there killing it-and if you don’t think you will reach your goal, don’t be discouraged.  Whatever you have today is more than you had on the 1st.  Keep pushing.

NaNoWriMo, Week 2

Friday started out pretty rough.  I only got 800 words, and since I have been pounding out over 1000 a day typically, I was feeling discouraged.  I sensed a wall coming, one I wouldn’t be able to break through, and then came Saturday and my kiddos.  I was concerned not much writing would get done with them in the house, but I was wrong.  I passed 17k on Saturday, bring me up to 1/3rd completion.  K made a point of guarding my office so I could write. E offered to get me coffee refills and snacks as needed.  They shushed each other so I could concentrate, and even the boys have been rooting me on.  I was able to pull past 20k on Saturday, and am eternally grateful for their encouragement.

Sunday was more of the same.  With their assistance, I dropped another 4k before hanging it up for the day.  I was nearing the end of Part 1, and I was feeling somewhat deflated, but they kept pushing. 

On Monday I wrote early in the morning, sitting at my computer for two hours trying to get the ending of the first part out. It took some time, but in the end, I topped out at 26k, which is more than halfway to my goal.  And, it was only the 11th.

I had finished Part 1, and now it was time for Part 2.  Here’s a secret, though: I’m a plantser in the strictest of terms.  (Lingo explanation for the non-writer.  Planner: someone who meticulously plans out their book. Pantser: someone who writes by the seat of their pants.  Plantser: someone who does both.)  I planned and outlined and took notes for the first half, but not the second.  The book started to go somewhere I didn’t expect, so I went with it, and now I have no notes left.  I will be writing the second half completely without a net.

On Tuesday I started the day with a couple thousand words, and finished chapter 10.  The problem I found myself confronted with that afternoon was how to start the next chapter.  So, there was a great deal of debate and contemplation, followed by researching what happens when an electric car runs out of juice (one of the fun parts of writing for me is researching all the weird stuff you need for your book.  That said, someone clear my search history when I die.)  Then I got out another 1200 words before retiring for the day.

Wednesday was a mess.  I had an appointment in the morning so I couldn’t get into my regular groove, and when I came home, I only got a paltry 800 words or so out.  Instead, I polished up a children’s story I wrote some time ago and sent it off to Sahar to test out on her kiddos.  I had hoped it could get the juices flowing, but the afternoon found me sitting on Twitter, procrastinating like it was my job.  After some encouragement from Twitter folk, I got back at it and put out another 1000.  I felt better after that.

Today I am at a loss.  I have discovered some timeline problems and have to go back and read the story so far, making notes about when certain things occur.  I am struggling with my current main character, someone different than the first half of the book.  I shall give small details to illustrate my problem: the first half of the book is narrated by Frankie, the second half by her mother Lila.  I know Frankie, inside and out…I am still discovering Lila.  And since I think all good books are character driven, this is making it hard for me to write at the moment.  It’s my hope that after I finish redoing the timeline, I will be able to get a few thousand words in.  Fingers crossed, but still, I’m not holding my breath.

I managed to get though week two without much of the dreaded slump, and am at 34.000 words.  I would say some days have been better than others, but mostly I am ahead of schedule.  The end is still a ways off, but I am looking forward to completion because I can sense it in the air.  Soon, this book will be written, and the five years of planning and thinking about it will finally mean something.  Of course, I have no idea what to do with it when it’s done, but we will figure that out when the time comes.  In the meantime, I shall write, write, write…and hope for the best.

NaNoWriMo, Week 1

Last Thursday was Halloween.  I went and handed out candy at my mother’s house, then came home and watched TV with Hubs like the thirty-something’s we are.  On Friday morning I awoke at 5am, unable to sleep due to bad dreams, which have been plaguing me lately.  I’ve been very stressed out so I’m sure this is the reason, but alas, I haven’t been sleeping well.  So 530am found me at my computer, retyping half of the first chapter of my novel.  I could easily have finished it, but I was pacing myself.  1667 word a day is rough.  I didn’t want to get too crazy.  On Saturday morning I finished the chapter and felt very proud of myself.  Only like 14 more to go.

Day three was a little trickier.  There was much research of the Eastern Meadowlark, as well as me trying to peck out a couple hundred extra words when I came up short.  I wasn’t discouraged though, and sat there typing away while my husband watched the football game.  Every once in a while, my click-clacking was interrupted by a holler from the other room.  I could tell the Bills were winning.

Monday found me on my sofa not wanting to move.  I had to update the blog as well as do NaNo, and I am running out of blog posts.  All my writing thoughts have been about the WIP (work in progress, for future reference,) and I have thus been neglecting my blog.  I mean it’s easy right now to do NaNo updates on Thursdays, but Mondays are looking pretty bare.

Anyway, I wasn’t feeling it, and then Hubs send me a text saying “break a leg on your writing today. You got this.”  That got me off my ass and into the office, where I finished up a blog post and got it out, then did 1500 words on the WIP.  A little encouragement goes a long way.  I told him so, and therefore on Tuesday I woke up to “never give up on your dreams, you’re an awesome writer.”

I went to the office and did 1800 words, then 2000 words of a short story that was taking up space in my field of vision and needed to disappear.  I felt that if I could get it out of me quickly then I could continue focusing on my WIP, which was getting away from me because of a stupid ghost story idea.

Yesterday I dropped another 1700 words which took me over 10k total.  I did another 2000 in the afternoon, and today I did 2400, bringing my total up to 14,768.

Pretty good start for a week.

Of course, everything I have done so far has been meticulously planned and many scenes were already written in bits and pieces.  In a few days, I will be writing without a net, so to speak; I have less material and notes for the middle and end of the book.  I know where I want to go, but we shall see what path I take to get there.

In a few days, my friend Sahar will be in town, and we are planning an epic 24-hour write-in.  I am both excited to be working alongside my friend and terrified that she will be typing away while I stare at the ceiling trying to peck out 100 words.  This is a stupid fear of course, and I will do everything in my power to ignore it, but it’s symbolic of how I feel without having so much material to work from.  Still…I got this far.  I wrote this much.  I can do this, right?

And so, week 1 comes to a close, and we move on to week 2.  I am on the end of Chapter 4 currently, and am excited to see where I will be in another week, even if I am terrified that I will run out of words.  To my fellow NaNo buddies, keep plugging away!  I promise to do the same.