December 3, 2013
Back from NaNoWriMo Land
No, I have not disappeared off the face of the blogging sphere, in case anyone was wondering. As I wrote at the end of October, I was signing up for National Novel Writing Month with a goal of writing 50,000 words of a novel by November 30th. Well, I am happy to report that I achieved my goal and earned the digital badge (above) and certificate (which I had to download and fill out myself), and watched the 44 second congratulatory video featuring the staff at the NaNoWriMo headquarters shouting "You did it!" and other such things. My husband took me out for lunch to celebrate and my kids, as well as my friends and family, cheered. I felt a goodly amount of satisfaction on November 30th, but the reality soon hit me and I still have about a third of the first draft of my book to write, without the motivational help of all the NaNoWriMo hoopla. I got back to my book this morning and slogged away for a couple of hours. It was as hard work as it was all November, even without the daily pressures of a certain word count to achieve, but just as rewarding, and I am determined to round out the plot and get the bones down at least, so I can start revising in the new year. The last thing I want to do is lose momentum. That being said, I also have to get ready for Christmas.
The reason I have not written on my blog, or read the blogs of my fine blogging friends at all since November 1st, is because after I spent two to four hours of my day writing, I did not want to look at the computer screen for any other reason than to catch up with family and my volunteer work colleagues via email or Facebook, and even that I kept to a minimum. I still had to cook and bake and talk to my family. The house was somewhat neglected as was my exercise routine. Writing a novel is very absorbing work. I spent a good part of most nights lying awake in the wee hours of the morning, working out my next scenes before I could go back to sleep. I drank a bit more coffee than usual, but I was honestly high on writing for the entire month. I was as happy as a pig in mud. I have no idea if what I wrote will be appealing to anyone else but me, but I admitted to myself that I am loving this time when it is just the book and me, working together to reveal the characters and the plot. I know I will want to share my book with others at some point, but I am not there yet.
Would I recommend NaNoWriMo to others? I would, but only if they have the basic elements of a novel revving and raring to go on October 31st. On Halloween night, between answering the door to trick-or-treaters - there were so many cute little kiddies at my door this year - I worked at my outline, fattening it up and fleshing it out. I am so glad I did. If I had started the month with no real idea of where I wanted to go with my novel, I may not have gotten as far as I did. Every writer is different, however. Some just need one character in mind to get started, but I am not one of those. I have to 'feel' the novel, and the whole idea of it has to stick and have traction. I did surprise myself on more than one occasion. I would intend for a scene to go a certain way, and the characters would take it in a different direction. I would finish the scene and think, "Now where did that come from?" That is a good feeling, because I was doing as Hemingway advised, which was to let your characters speak for themselves - if you force them, they end up as caricatures. Every second day the NaNoWriMo website would post a pep talk from a published author. I found most of these talks helpful and encouraging, as well as relateable which was encouraging in itself. When writers talk about the inner workings of the job of writing and you relate to it, it makes you feel like a writer, too. Sticking to my goal was a bit gruelling at times, but it was all worth it, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.
I will visit all my favourite blogs over the next week. I won't hope to catch up, but I am looking forward to reading what everyone is up to.