Did I make it? I set my goal at 30K because I didn’t want to stress myself. The idea of fifty thousand words in thirty days seemed nuts. As a matter of fact when I first heard about NaNoWriMo two years ago that is just what I thought about it- crazy idea; who would even try? That was even though I’d written four full length novels. Those each took the better part of a year and sorry to say are still not publishing ready.
I have no idea what compelled me to give it a go this year. Maybe 2020 has a good side too. I had a story idea, very basic, but it was something. Without any real passion for the story but just the pull of a challenge I typed the first words: “I’m named after my grandmother.”
The marathon was on and 53k words and two days short of the end of the month later, I have a first draft that was exhilarating to write. There’s a lot of work to do. I bookmarked several places with “INSERT” and “CHANGE”. But I have found that pumping out a story rapidly staves off the story burnout that happened with the previous WIP. Another advantage is the tone and voice is consistent which is sometimes lost with writing a novel over a year’s time. I don’t know if I will ever do NaNoWriMo again. I’d like to think that this first time will be the last because I’ll be writing at the behest of an agent or publisher next year. If I can write a novel in thirty days without breaking a sweat (losing some sleep though and maybe straining my husband’s patience just a bit) I’m believing it can happen. Regardless, NaNoWriMo 2020 was a blast, something I won’t forget. “Strike while the iron is hot”. If inspiration takes you away, go with it. You might end up with a novel to your name.
I was going through piles of books the other day and I found my high school yearbook. I was thinking of tossing it. Yes, tossing it in the “to be burned” basket to take on our next camping trip for fuel. But of course, before I could finalize plans to do that, I had to skim through. Mind you, my high school years were not all fun and games. They were difficult in many ways. Here’s a classic example of how things went for me. My yearbook picture that was randomly chosen (by I’m sure a very bored photographer or now that I think of it, one of my classmates on the yearbook team) was the worst of the five shots they took. My head is tilted strangely, and my chin is jutted out. I hated the picture the moment I saw it. My tortured youth went out with one last flaming image for the whole class to forever remember me by. Such humiliation! Would it ever end? I’m not really sure, but at this point, I no longer care. That’s bliss, to no longer care if people think less of you because you look like a freak. That should make someone laugh!
After I replayed my dislike of my yearbook picture enough times to be tired of my indignation, I started to read the messages from my classmates. I was surprised to find a young man who said he really liked my quote and I had made him think. It was signed “Love John”. Why hadn’t I ever noticed this sweet message? I could have rung John up and asked what he was doing for the summer. (Like that would ever happen). I read the book from front to back, even the teacher’s section. At the picture of my home room teacher I found an inspiring personal message. It was the first time I read that message. Decades later I read her message to my teenage self who should have read it then. She saw promise in me, and took the time to say so, which is encouraging even today. Words are powerful and written down have power that can travel far into the future. It’s Thanksgiving here in the United States, a day of a traditional meal with family (or Zoomed with family in 2020) and a time to focus on thankfulness. I’m thankful for a lot of things like my son in-law recovering from COVID -19 without hospitalization and that I have a job, a place to live, deepening friendships even in a pandemic. But today in this post I’m marking that I’m thankful for the words of my homeroom teacher and all those adults who take the time to encourage the generation below to believe in themselves and give life a chance. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
News flash, “Kill Words” is passing the forty thousand mark with just six days to go. Here’s a draft first paragraphs:
I’m named after my grandmother Gertrude Maisey Warner, the revered matriarch of the family. They called her Gerty, but I’m called Maisey. I guess my parents could tell even then that I would not be able to fill her shoes. She married at eighteen and had ten kids all of them growing up to be upstanding citizens. My uncle Bill is a neurosurgeon, uncle Jack head of mathematics at the university, my aunt Becca a CEO of a medical device company. My own mother not only won ‘teacher of the year’ five years in a row for the Midwest region, but she started a non-profit to combat illiteracy in the inner-city.
I went to college to be an elementary school teacher, but I’ve only landed a job as a teacher’s aide so far and that’s because of my mother’s connections. There’s no chance I’ll be getting married any time soon so forget about having ten kids. I’m about to turn twenty-five so maybe I’m just in a mid-twenties crisis. Is that a real thing? I shouldn’t go there. I’ve got a lot of reasons to be happy.
Ten days left to NaNoWriMo2020. I’m surpassing 35,000 words this weekend. My goal was 30K by November 30. I didn’t expect to tap into a vein of story gold but I’m enjoying every minute of it.
My NNWM novel is not sci-fi, not speculative, well maybe crime speculative, but I’m an unpublished novelist so I can choose whatever genre the story comes in. Mark that as a plus all you published author wanna-be’s.
The title is “Kill Words”. I expect it will be 60K words in the end. It’s new adult/young adult which means characters are in their mid-twenties just starting out in life. Maisey launches an anonymous blog as an outlet to express herself without the constraints of family expectations. She connects with another blogger, Tyler and is quickly mixed up with him in a blog cyber crime ring. Her life spins out of control until all the false pretenses she rested on are stripped away and she finds her true self.
I’m thinking that most of you who read this blog would not read this book. I’m not doing a good job of building my target audience for future publishing of “Kill Words” but maybe you know someone who would be interested. Drop a comment and let me know. I’ll be looking for beta- readers by the new year.
I’ll also launch a blog based on the character Tyler. He gets to post raw, transparent, diatribes on the ills of society. His posts will include “kill words”, a puzzle for readers to figure out. Should be fun.
I’ve got to get back to writing! I’m still setting my mark on 50K words on November 30th. How many think I can pull it off working full time, overtime, stressed to my core?
I’m in a phase where I want to set free anything I have that I don’t really need or really want. Maybe it’s a side effect of 2020. I’m working remotely three days a week and those I go in for, the dress is mega- business casual. It’s caused me to look around and ask why did I feel I needed all this stuff? It’s amazing how perspective can change just by taking a break from the ordinary. Of course, writer’s know this. Every time I put a WIP away for a time, I catch a new vision of where it can go. I’ve applied this new view to my office at work. I accumulated all kinds of stuff that apparently I don’t need because I only have access to it twice a week. That was just the beginning. Naturally the next wilderness of excess was my closet. I looked around and decided to challenge myself to pick fifteen articles of clothing to donate.
Now, you all need to keep in my mind I’m a bit of a hoarder when it comes to clothes. Once upon a time I did not have fifteen items and most of what I did have were hand me downs or thrift shop specials.
So once I could afford to buy more than what I need, that’s what I did. Years later if it was good quality or I remember it was a super good deal, I had a hard time getting rid of it even if it didn’t fit anymore or I wasn’t sure if I liked the look. Well with fresh eyes, I didn’t stop at fifteen.
I’m not going to say it’s liberating because really things are not the reason we keep ourselves bound, however, clearing out what doesn’t serve any purpose does allow space to mentally breath better.
The key is not to get high off of the initial thrill of having less stuff. That fades fast. It is what I kept that gives me the greatest joy. Each item has been selected for a reason. Some I know will only last a season and then they’re gone. Some are in for the long haul, good quality, rarely used, but I never want to have to buy again. Others I’ve had in my wardrobe for years and they still get the job done, sweaters, a pair of black pants that never look old and always fit no matter what weight I am (I’m wondering if they’re magic – sounds like a story) and slinky jacket that turns any dress into evening-ware. The goal is not to be minimalist but elitist, only the best and most loved stay. You know where I’m going with this! What would happen if right now, that word, scene, or character that you’ve gotten used to seeing in your work was set aside? Would you miss it? Try it with your possessions, do it with your writing.
I’m a wanna-be marathon runner as well as a wanna-be published novelist. I run almost every day a mile or so. Not enough to give even a mini-marathon a chance…yet. I’ve been going faster and further for about five years. Sounds ridiculous to some of you but progress is progress. I’ve found that I can plateau and feel good at where I’m at but when I remember what my goal is, then I’m ready to push myself again; deal with the discomfort of going beyond, when I’m willing again to pay a price that feels like loss at the outset.
The work, the trouble, the aches and pains come before the joy, the bliss, the deep satisfaction of overcoming my own weakness. I was running with a bunch of runners, on a video (ha! ha!), pretending to be the runner who was videoing a race. I found my self rooting for my guy, urging him to pass person after person. It was a seven plus mile run so I had to drop off, live a day of work and pick up next morning. The second day, my runner passed everyone.
How great to be the lead runner, the one who left everyone else behind, the one who had to figure where the trail actually was through pastures, over hillocks, through gates and muddy paths. It occurred to me that being out front has its glory but eventually it feels a little lonely. Running with the group felt like we were all doing something. Making a stand for resilience and strength of the human body. Running out front, it was just the open space ahead. I’m generally not happiest in a crowd but maybe small crowds focused on the same goal are okay. Just when I was missing the sensation of being part of a united people, in the true fashion of real life, suddenly there was a person in front me, then another. They must have been just a few steps behind but out of view. (I run to my own music track). Isn’t that the way it often is? We think we’re alone in our successes, alone in the ground we have to cover, figure out, alone if we fall or fail. But then, just like that, the very reality we’re struggling in shifts and it comes to light that we were never alone.
When I get back to running with this video I’ll learn if the videographer wins or not but I’m a fan anyway. Why? Because I’m feeling like I can run this race and if not, I can cheer on those who pass me and love every mile of it.
I’ve thought sometimes about the invention of the eraser. Who thought of that? What did they do before words written in lead could be removed, obliterated, made to disappear? We have it too easy now. We can just press a delete button. You can’t tell if I typed this post ten times because I can change it with no record (or at least none that is easy to find).
I’m writing as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and having a blast pumping out 1000 plus words a day on a brand new novel.
[During NNWM – there is no deleting of words! JK ]
Yesterday morning I was typing away and suddenly thought I had inadvertently deleted a few well crafted paragraphs when I moved blocks of text. That’s when I realized, we are now at the place in time when the back arrow will go almost infinitely back. I remember a time when back arrow would only work for one action back; then it was ten or so. Somewhere along the line when I wasn’t paying attention it became forever back. How spoiled are we writers today?
There’s no real point to this post (I blame NaNoWriMo) except don’t take your words too seriously especially whether or not they are snapped up by a publisher. What matters is the people you share words with even terrible drafts. Those that see the lines that,
If words fall and no one is around to read them before delete did they make a point in the universe?