How are things in my post-NaNoWriMo little world, you ask?
Odd. Distinctly odd.
Currently in the midst of arguing with one of my characters to the point we’re not speaking much. And even though it’s awkward, this is an improvement. I am not crying every afternoon I try to write over the possibility of his demise.
Can’t help wondering–do all authors feel like this when they kill their favorite characters? This isn’t exactly my first time around doing this, but I haven’t ever had it hit so hard. A moment of deepest gratitude for my writing buddy who was perfectly willing to grieve along with me even though the character in question is part of a book she hasn’t read.
Get yourself a writing buddy like that. No, you can’t have mine.
Aside from not working on that story…
I’ve started my first NaNoWriMo goal outside of November. Just to see how much I usually do write during the year. I tend to belittle my own achievements (easy to do when your working draft is over 600,000 words), so it’s been rather nice to have all the little bars and charts reminding me rather than my efforts being swallowed up by this hungry monster of a “novel.”
Yeah. About that. Fun fact: it’s now longer than Les Misérables.
Speaking of NaNo, I finally claimed one of my prizes from the Ninja Writers Club. Aside from my sheer delight that I can say there is a group of ninja writers, I might be enjoying their advice. Time will tell.
My obsession with Writers of the Future, you ask? Quarter entries due at the end of the month. I have nothing ready yet. But, you know, with two weeks to write a universe-altering science-fiction or fantasy short story in 17,000 words or less…I could cook something up. Maybe.
I did finally complete the Writers of the Future writing workshop! About time, I know. Got my lovely certificate of completion and a bucket full of techniques and ideas. Highly recommended.
I suppose you could say things are more or less normal. Going for a hike with shape-shifting dragons. Admiring Christmas lights with the ghosts. Still drinking too much tea. Enjoying the first few snows.
The end of NaNoWriMo 2020! Plus three days of not posting anything because I really needed sleep.
November 30th Word Count: 94,889 words
Total Mugs of Tea: …frankly, I’ve lost count.
Nights writing after midnight: Perhaps a better question would be how many nights I didn’t write past midnight. Which I still can’t answer, but the number is small.
Sanity/Mental Health: Had a few breakdowns. Too in love with writing to complain.
Yeah, I have no clue how a “this might have 50,000 words” idea got me to 94,000 words. The thing was rather like Pac-Man–you keep feeding it and can’t tell where it all goes because it doesn’t seem any bigger. I could probably find out, but there’s always this moment at the end of November where I’m scared to look back at what I’ve written. Because it might be fantastic! And it might be a gibbering pile of goo!
I was obsessively determined to finish the thing and write all the scenes. It took me until 11:59 p.m. on the last day to feel satisfied.
But to be perfectly honest…I was on the brink of tears at 12:00 a.m. December 1st. Not because of any logical reason at all. Just because of the rush of it all.
I think some part of me wasn’t ready for it to be over. Some part of me was ready to keep writing for another month, until everything was polished and poised and noveled just the way it should be.
The other part of me just needed sleep. And since I’d been ignoring the little voice saying so for a month, we decided to listen to her for a change.
I haven’t been writing for the last three days.
It’s been freakishly weird.
Twice, loved ones have made perfectly innocent snarky comments or jokes and I’ve pulled out my “I am still not over NaNoWriMo” card so they don’t ask me to react. Or respond in any sensible way.
Considering one friend compares my NaNo experience to a drug habit, they’ve given me a nice amount of space to grieve or compose myself or celebrate or whatever it is that I’ve been doing.
Short answer is that 50,000 words probably is enough to tackle in one month. Write more at your own risk.
Still, at the end of my university responsibilities next week, I have every intention of plunging back in. My urban fantasy characters are complaining about how little they’ve seen me. And yes, I miss them too.
In other words…
A fictional character informed me I’d be spending Christmas with them because he knows how little time I spend taking care of myself (hence 94,000 words and minor emotional breakdown). And while we’re at it, we might as well see how urban fantasy wizards celebrate holidays. It’s uncharted territory for me, and while it might be absolutely pointless, I’ve got a feeling it should be entertaining. Likely to the degree that I won’t be “invited back.”
It’s November 29th. NaNoWriMo 2020 officially closes at midnight tomorrow.
I am not ready for this.
Not because I’m vastly behind on words–I’ve written my 50,000 and then some. What I’m not ready for is the end.
Finishing the novel that keeps taking more and more twists and turns and muddying the plot so I have the beginning and middle but probably need to munch my way through another 7,000 words before I can reach the end. Saying goodbye to the project that has been an obsession for the last 29 days. Not staying up until one or two o’clock in the morning typing because I can’t get my hands to stop moving. Not checking the NaNo forums every morning like a ritual to see what’s going to make me laugh and who needs cheering up. Trying to figure out how to live normally again. If I even know what that’s like.
Breaking the news to my characters, those headstrong, impulsive, sometimes dense, wonderful people who have kept me company and opened the door to another world so I can forget about all the rubbish of this one, that this, this finally is the end of the line.
That’s what I’m not ready for.
It’s crazy, I know. We all look forward to December 1st. The end. The winning. The completed novel.
This year for me, it feels a little too much like “happily ever after.” Oh, you know, the perfect ending to all the fairytales you read or hear as a child. After a while, it seemed disappointing. What happens after that? Are they doomed to happily ever after? No adventures? No excitement? No thrilling disaster? That’s once and for always the end?
Anyway. I know I’m probably overreacting a little. Truth is, I really need sleep. I have university finals breathing down the back of my neck. And one of my characters from a story put on hold for NaNoWriMo is practically jumping up and down on my brain like a toddler in a mattress store for attention again.
Love you too, buddy.
I guess what I’m trying to say again is how much I’ve really loved it. Every year, giving me a chance to do something I never thought I could. How much I’ve anticipated it, relished every terrible, glorious minute.
And after we’ve finished raising our glasses in a toast to NaNoWriMo, I know I’ll be fine again. Back to debating changelings in my magic system and possible backstories for Godfather Drosselmeyer. It’s almost Christmastime, after all.
Until then, I have a novel to finish. One that I love enough to see to the very end.
So since I’ve already given you a weekly update what with hitting the 50,000, this is going to be something a little different.
Plunging straight into the top 5 reasons why I love NaNoWriMo in all its mad glory and why writing 50,000 words alone would never be the same:
The project area.
Okay, whoever developed this was brilliant, because in addition to the cover, synopsis, and book excerpt you can display just like a published novel, the site has a place to link a “soundtrack” and Pinterest board to give people clues about what you’re writing. This makes me happier than I can say.
Why? The first year I did NaNo, I had one song someone left on my thumbdrive that I liked. Thomas Bergersen’s “Into Darkness.” I listened to that song every time I sat down to write on the floor on the carpet in my bedroom for most of the month. It fit the novel, in a weird sort of way, and even now, I can’t hear that song without thinking must go write…must go type something fabulous…The next year, it was Ailee singing from The Arthdal Chronicles…the TV series which sadly I still haven’t seen. I listened to other music that month, but that was the one that sort of attached itself to Tales from the Legendarium. This year? This year I actually made a YouTube playlist of things I was listening to. Nothing’s really struck me as fitting the story though. No one song that I’ve listened to again and again. Medievalpunk world soundtracks are somewhat hard to find, I guess. Still, it’s not over yet. Perhaps I’ll find one I love.
I’m not particularly a chatty person, but I love that there’s somewhere all the writers can rant if we need to. The Spork Room and “Current Mood toward Your Novel in a Picture or Gif,” in particular are favorites. It’s wonderful to have people around who know what you’re going through, and can cheer each other up as we charge into the fray.
I started a thread this year dedicated to all the nice things people do for their writers during November. Why? Because while we like to shout at the top of our lungs how hard and wonderful it is to do this crazy thing, the people who make sure our lives aren’t (completely) falling apart in the meantime are something of unsung heroes. Little unexpected kind things really make NaNo all the better.
Sometimes you have to make yourself believe you’re really slaying a dragon before something will feel exciting. Before you can find the gusto to do it. The challenge of the 50,000 isn’t the only one–the site has badges of achievement for every step in the word count goal…and some just for how you write (Plannter? Pantser? Plantser?)
There’s also a badge for self-care. Making sure writers don’t entirely forget about their health.
I have never deserved that badge. Never. I am a very bad example. Take better care of yourselves than I do.
Styling my handmade tea tankard here. It is as gigantic as it looks. Apologies for the photo quality…another reason I don’t use my own pictures much. The mug reads “My best friends are from Books.” Something happened with the glaze and it ran into the letters a little like a melting candle…go get yourself an artist friend who knows you well enough to make splendid mugs.
The stats for keeping you on track.
It’s a little thing, but it makes a big difference. Instead of just a single drop into the waterfall of a novel, every day you write, you can see yourself making progress. More words added to the pile.
There are the two regular charts:
…and then the ones about writing speed, where you write, when you write…
Lest we forget: The Novel
Writing 50,000 words come what may is what NaNoWriMo is all about. I never believed I could do it until three years ago. I didn’t even bother to try. It seems like a huge feat, but in reality, it’s just 1,667 words every day (give or take). People speak more than 7,000 words a day on average (or so Google says. I’m betting mine is much lower). So why not pin some of them to a page? Tell the world stories?
I’m not trying to push anyone into NaNo. I just hope that all the writers out there will realize what I did–nothing is really impossible if you give it a chance and go for it. The written world is waiting for you. In your very fingertips.
And that’s it!
That’s my top 5 favorite things about NaNoWriMo. I’m sure I left something fabulous out. So feel free to remind me, or share what you love.
Cue two o’clock in the morning me, typing away before crashing hard. Today was the day.
I won NaNoWriMo. For the third year running. Only this time it’s ten days early.
I should be celebrating. Throwing confetti in the air and treating myself to chocolate puddings.
It hasn’t quite registered in my brain, I think.
My novel, for its part, isn’t even kind of done. The plot has gone to fluff, I am still adding new characters, and the final dramatic ending scenes reside only in my head. So I can’t fully accept the idea of being done.
I knew this would happen. Short stories for me hit their sweet spot at 15-17,000 words. So a 50,000 word novel feels like it’s just warming up (Also, what’s the deal with 5,000 word stories? In fantasy genre? How can you even worldbuild? It’s like a sneeze! Either flash-fiction or don’t. Sorry). The length is one of the hazards of fantasy writing, especially when I’m spending so much time to go hunt trolls or develop characters or theorize about the nature of dryads and shape-shifters. In a sort of Elizabethan-steampunk world. If that’s a thing.
And yes, sometimes I just like to luxuriate in detail. Sometimes. When appropriate.
So if I didn’t celebrate riotously and wake the neighborhood at 2:30 a.m., what did I do?
Slept a lot. Drank my matcha tea. Ate an oat muffin.
Now I’m going to keep writing. Until the story tells me to stop. Until November 30th comes and I can’t write another word.
Because I’ve got unicorns and shadow-things and mechanical engineers to deal with over here. I can’t leave them yet, now can I?
To all those still writing, and all those not NaNoing, best of luck. May your plots always be present and your pens never run out of ink.
Number of nights writing after midnight: Let’s not talk about that, shall we?
Sanity: Slightly blurry. Living in a fog more or less after writing late at night. Which is not entirely different from normal…
It’s safe to say I don’t have any idea what I’m doing. NaNoWriMo, everyone! Don’t think, just write, and worry about it later. If ever.
It’s remarkably wonderful. And weird. Which is why I’m still here, three years running.
It would be easier if I didn’t keep having ideas for other projects while I’m trying to write. Why is it my characters have so little manners that they insist on barging in and describing their backstories now, when they belong in another book? Was it really necessary for a character to suggest how fun it would be to buy him a hot doughnut and sit laughing at my crazy reality over coffee? Coffee which neither of us care to drink? Can’t they behave and do as they’re told?
As if they ever have.
This is the point in NaNo that I start to get a little nervous in the novel-process. As I try to figure out just how many words the novel needs to get “finished.” Am I chowing through my word count so fast I’ll have nothing left by next week? Am I writing too slow, and I’ll still be up at 11:59 on November 30th, saying “Not yet! Not yet! This was a 100,000 word novel in disguise! It was all a lie!”
Because, in all honesty, I could quit at 50,000 words as having completed the novel and no one would care. It’s just me who would be judging and wondering and dissatisfied if I didn’t write an ending. If I didn’t finish tying together the plot threads in the middle. If I still had the characters haunting the back of my head, asking me why I would leave before the story’s done.
Because I’m still adding new characters. As of yesterday.
Yeah, I don’t know why either. Apparently a fencing master was necessary. I’m not going to argue with the man with a sword.
Also university finals. They be a coming. Less said about that the better.
I think every year of NaNo I’m baffled. It’s as if I should have it figured out by now, but I don’t. It’s like plunging off the top of a waterfall–no matter how prepared you think you are, it’s still the same uncontrollable thrill in the end.
So here’s to the weird and wonderful. However many words we write. And wherever it is we wind up.
7 days. 17,864 words. Something between 9 and 14 cups of green tea.
The novel is born.
How am I, you ask? Still alive (and typing! See? Look at me go!). A little worse for wear, since I’ve been getting most of each day’s word count in between midnight and one o’clock in the morning. And still keeping up with my regular schedule. Hence the protective attitude toward tea. A little stressed here and there, a narrow escape of a panic attack. But most of the negative has to do with my life in reality. Not the novel that I’m using to escape.
The writing itself hasn’t been too difficult. I decided to write something of a sequel to my first NaNo project. About twenty years prior, set in the same weird and wonderful steampunky world of fantasy and cryptids and royal courts and hard-packed dirt roads.
Remarkably, we haven’t encountered a single dragon yet.
Wouldn’t have thought that.
There have been moments where I’ve been holding my breath. When I haven’t a clue which way to go. I sort of hate my opening and have avoided rereading it just yet. But I think that’s part of the adventure. To feel the rush and thrill, the possibility that always comes with a challenge you really want to win.
And the best part is that I’ve given myself permission, in this challenge, in this steampunky world, to write anything I want to. Anything. There are always the rules of the world when you write–shy characters can’t fly off the handle every two chapters without explanation, gravity is still in operation on earth, unless it’s urban fantasy the unicorn shouldn’t have that smartphone thank you very much. But at least to some degree, I am ignoring them. I’m making my own rules. And breaking them.
As long as you love it, the only real rule is write.
It’s not too late to join the madness! Or at least see what all your sleep-deprived writer friends are gushing about: https://nanowrimo.org/.
So happy Eve of NaNoWriMo, Reformation Day, Blue Moon, Halloween, and Time-Change.
As I write this, there are two hours remaining to the start of NaNoWriMo. And I am guilty at this particular moment of having every intention to stay awake to meet it. Ready for the madness.
On the other hand, with stuffing preparations in this week, the madness might never have left.
An example from my odd, method-acting/interrogation style of writing in which I carry on conversations with my characters?
Segment from an actual note I took yesterday while doing some background research on lapis lazuli:
JADE. SERIOUSLY DUDE. WHAT. DID YOU KNOW THIS???
Not that I’m in the habit of yelling at my characters in all caps. Or saying “dude.” But the former has happened twice this week…
Aside from that project (which is supposed to be minding its manners and waiting its turn while I do my NaNo novel),
I finally decided to do the Hogwarts Sorting House Quiz.
Okay, so I’ve been putting this off more or less since I finished the books at the end of summer. Mostly because now that I actually had some idea of what all this fandom was about…I actually had a pretty clear idea of what house I wanted to be.
Or maybe it’s better to say that I had a clear idea of what I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to be in Ravenclaw.
Not because I have anything at all against it. Just because I feel like it would be too easy for me to fit in there. I’m quiet, I’m smart, I’m bookish–clearly. You’re reading my book blog. I’m aware.
But on the other hand, it’s not what I care about most. And when people associate me with the “smart kid,” I can’t help feeling they’re seeing only one very small side of me.
The one house I was certain I wouldn’t fit into? Hufflepuff. Seriously, I was prepared to contest results if I got that one. Hufflepuff is a wonderful house, but I’m just too much of a raincloud for that (with all due respect to unhappy, grumpy, or emo Puffs. You still bring color into what would otherwise be a black-and-white world).
That left Gryffindor and Slytherin. And I have a friend who has been insisting I’m Slytherin since I started reading the books. I wouldn’t have minded either, really. Slytherin has the cooler scarves (sorry. I like green), and people really should be nicer to them. M’dear James Riley, wonderful lunatic author of Story Thieves is Slytherin. Gryffindor is Harry’s house. Few things are better than being brave. There’s a lot to like about both of them.
Add to all this that people take their houses very seriously. I’ve met people who let their houses define their identities–which wouldn’t bother me so much if I couldn’t see it fit perfectly. Very intelligent Ravenclaw professor who loves teaching. Hufflepuff language teacher who could not possibly be nicer to everyone and is literally like a personified hug even on her bad days. A couple of Slytherin students who provided me with culture shock. So I was starting to wonder if there really was something about it that was accurate.
Cue the overthinking and procrastination.
And setting aside the fact that I normally resist personality quizzes on the grounds that they can’t possibly work, my own tendency to assume I must have accidentally cheated them, that not even the Sorting Hat is infallible, and my mixed feelings about pitting people against each other in houses in the first place–
I decided today was the day, in honor of Lily and James Potter. Just as something fun. Nothing more.
Surprise! Aside from the slightest disappointment I don’t need to knit a green scarf, I am perhaps inordinately pleased with myself. I second-guessed it a bit. As I do everything. But I’m quite content with the idea. Adventure, in the end, really is the best prize of all, so I think it’s a good house for me. Besides, when it comes to things like this, it’s the people that define the group, not the other way around. So I’ll enjoy baffling the world as a bookish Gryffindor armed to the teeth to defend every other house that exists.
Comments? Undying love for your house to declare?
Now I’m just left wondering what house Tolkien would have been in (Ravenclaw? He developed multiple languages. Gryffindor? He chased a neighbor while wearing a full suit of armor.) and if I can accurately take sorting quizzes as my fictional characters. Because these are normal things that keep writers awake at night.
Anyway, fond wishes to all the houses today and extra inspiration to the Wrimos bouncing on their toes like it’s Christmas morning. This post is already much too long!
Oh, in case you’re wondering, that friend of mine is still insisting that I somehow cheated the test and really am a Slytherin.
To write 50,000 words in a month or not write 50,000 words in a month?
To stay up into the small hours of the morning on most weekends, typing a furious descent to madness, or to stay healthy, get a proper(ish) amount of sleep, and be psychologically well-balanced or at least without another item of excess stress?
It really isn’t a question.
I’m doing it. NaNoWriMo Round 3.
As an explanation, I am, quite certainly, when it comes to writing
…not in any particular order. And this year I really had no idea what I’d be writing. Zilch plan.
My creative-writing brain’s solution? Stay up until 2:30 a.m. creating a glorious steampunk (or is it medievalpunk–technically Renaissance-punk, but I wasn’t actually aware that was a thing) fantasy story plan that I absolutely cannot refuse.
But before that…I really couldn’t answer even to myself if I’d be doing it. And trust me, I know NaNo isn’t everyone’s thing. One of my writing buddies has been patiently nagged to do it for the last two years and just can’t with life. I get it. If I were really a level-headed person, I’d be looking at how crazy my little world already is and laugh at the whole idea.
I think NaNo is made for people like me. People who crave the challenge (and maybe a smidge of suffering). A reason to write. An adventure. A game to play you might very well lose.
Anyway, now it feels a little bit like a countdown to Christmas morning. I know, it’s a weird mixture of excitement and dread that goes into NaNo, but the truth is, as soon as I had my horribly messy plan, I couldn’t actually wait for it to start. I wanted to write it. I wanted it to be NaNo already.
I can almost feel the gasps of horror from the other writers who haven’t finished stockpiling their caffeine or polishing their outlines. I think eventually they might forgive the moment of weakness. That’s the other thing about NaNo–no matter what genre, what style, what life struggles we have, this challenge brings us all together, and makes allies out of people that have never met.
It’s a beautiful moment when you get to see that.
So with six days and counting, good luck to all the Wrimos out there, and a very peaceful November to all those who aren’t involved.
May we all find stories worthy of a dragon’s hoard.
Confetti and cake time! Writers of the Future has awarded me a Silver Honorable Mention!
You might remember “Rejection Slip,” a post about my last Writers of the Future entry. A flat-out refusal of a story that I loved.
Things are looking up.
The Silver Honorable Mention isn’t an official award. I won’t be published in the anthology. But out of 181 countries, story upon story upon story, writers who know what they’re doing and have seen every plot in the business (twice), read mine and saw something they liked.
I can be satisfied with that.
Until I write them something they can’t refuse.
I still scream incoherently every time I open one of the WOTF emails with good news. I reserve that, as my singular right. You know, on the list of things we “crazy writers” do.
So now that it’s officially been announced on the WOTF website, I’ve had my victory ice cream and life is ready to move on…
I’m debating National Novel Writing Month. For the third year running.
The case is this: I want to do it. Per usual, I don’t have time to do it. I’ve learned not to be bothered by that.
I have no plan. None. And only 9 days to come up with one. Because, you know, I’ve squandered the rest of October with unavoidable responsibilities and arguing with characters about peanut butter.
Yeah. You read that right. Peanut butter. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
So can I do this?
Wish me luck. Because I know myself well enough by now to guess that if I can find the slightest spark of inspiration, I’ll give it my best shot.