#NaNoWriMo2017: The End

It’s just about over.  Officially, anyways.  Let’s see now….

And the new lifetime number:

I’m not going to lie, that one feels pretty good.  I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for thirteen years now (though I skipped 2006 because that was the dark time), and I’ve won every year I’ve done it.  Makes the whole thing feel pretty massive to have logged more than a cool million in the process, even if it’s been more than a decade.

My plan, right now, is to retire from NaNoWriMo in 2020.  That’s when I plan to be finished with the story I started way back in 2005.  There’ll be lots more about that later, if I ever get around to editing this beast.  Suffice it to say, those million words aren’t all I’ve got sitting on the hard drive.  By now, I’ve established how terrible I am at keeping to plans, so chances are, when 2021 rolls around, I’m going to still be plugging away at the same old story.  2031, too.

In the meantime, where do we go from here?  In an ideal world, I would have accomplished everything I wanted to in November.  I didn’t make it.  The section I’ve been working on is 64 chapters, and I’ve only got 48 in the can.  I’m going to keep plugging away (probably at a slower pace) until I finish the final 25%.  Hopefully well before the holidays.

After that, I’m going hardcore on edits for The Primer books 5 and 6.  They’re both written.  They both need a bunch of work.  I’ll have  lots to say about them soon enough.  I’ve got an outline for the end of the series, which is going to be a massive tome compared to everything I’ve put out so far, and a framework for book 7, which is probably the most amorphous thing left in The Primer.  2018 is going to be a busy year.  I’m excited.  I’m also tired.

Nano Retrospective

Last one for the year, I promise.

I started doing National Novel Writing Month in 2005, during my Senior year in college.  I’d learned it existed the year before and thought I’d give it a shot for the following reasons:

  • I liked writing stories
  • I liked novels
  • I had delusions of grandeur
  • I was operating under the assumption that I would be writing great, novel-length, works of literature in the distant, nebulous future.

I was not prepared to write a great, novel-length work of literature at that point in my life, because I had classes to take a Busch Light to drink.  My plan consisted entirely of the main character’s name, a vague concept of a parody of The Matrix, and a weird joke about ice cream cones that I thought was really funny, even if I’d never been able to get anyone to agree with me on that point.  I’d written a (terrible) story that was around 50,000 words before, but that had taken about three years of on-again, off-again effort.  I didn’t think I had much of a chance.  Writing a story of that length–actually finding a way to get from the beginning, all the way to the end–seemed like an impossible task to wrap my head around.

I wasn’t worried about the story I was writing.  I, who worry about literally everything (earlier today I was unable to make my contribution to the office Holiday Party fund for hours because I was too worried about not having correct change) wasn’t afraid of writing something dumb, because I knew it was going to be dumb.  I wasn’t afraid of it being stylistically sloppy, because the voice I settled into was defined by its sloppiness.  I wasn’t concerned about literary merit because I knew coming in that I was going to fail, I wasn’t going to wind up with a real book and no one was ever going to read what I wrote.  Maybe I was a little worried.  My first paragraph was a disclaimer dedicated to the idea that the reader probably wasn’t going to like what they read, and that they should give up while they still had the chance.
Thirty days later I had just over 50,000 words of pure, unadulterated garbage.  I still love that manuscript for sentimental reasons, but it reads like I was smashing my face on the keyboard over and over.  I’m keeping the story and the characters, because they’re awesome, and I’m rewriting the thing to make it something worth reading, but there’s something special about the original that edits will never be able to match.  I wrote it, a semi-coherent story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, that was approximately novel-length.  Writing actual novels was no longer a vague plan that I had in some distant, nebulous future that I wasn’t even really sure existed.  I’d written a novel, and I was going to do it again, because I knew I could do it.  And I could do it fast.
These days when November rolls around I come in with a detailed outline, chapter-by-chapter plans on where I want the story to go, and I generally follow my plan.  I’m still working on the same story, even if it’s not the same story any more.  50,000 words is no longer the goal, but a step towards completion.  Writing a novel is no longer this huge, almost unimaginable task.  I know the whole story fits in my head.  I’m 105,000 words into last month’s project, and I’ll be writing it through the end of next week (at least).  The fear of failure and the seat-of-my-pants madness that I brought to Nanowrimo my first couple times through are long gone, but I have a blast just the same.
If you’re on the fence about trying it, if you’re thinking about writing a novel but you feel like the job is just too big, my advice would be to try it.  Come in with low expectations, with a story you don’t necessarily love (this is key–if that story you want to write has to be perfect or it’ll break your heart try something else first.  It’ll take so much of the pressure off.) and just write.  Use filler where you have to.  If a scene just won’t come out right write “This scene just won’t work.  We’re assuming it’s over now and everything went just the way I planned.  Onward!” or something.  There are no rules and you can take all the shortcuts you want.  It can be more terrible than you ever imagined.  You can write yourself into a corner, only to have an army of zombies eat the walls.  The important thing it teaching your brain how to make the words flow.  Once you find that there won’t be any stopping you.

#Nanowrimo 2016: The End

nanowrimo_2016_upside

96,771 words written in 30 days.  The goal was 121,000.

I didn’t make it.

Did you make it?

And now the NaNo hangover sets in.

There’s something about hitting an end date, even an arbitrary one like this, that just allows the exhaustion to set in.  This month has been a particularly exhausting one, and the difference between today’s progress and yesterday’s is dramatic.  I remember why it took until February for me to finish last year, but this time will be different.  Of that I am confident.

We’re going to be switching gears here starting next week, back to the regularly scheduled program that’s likely to include the return of The Night Dragon(s), up to and including it’s thrilling conclusion.  There’s also something about a book that’s just about done.

I’m cheating this week, on account of the hangover, and just leaving this brief little post here.  Better one next week, I promise.

#Nanowrimo 2016, part 2

Into the final week we go! I won already.  But I’m not done. The goal in November, for me, is always to …

I have no words.

November marches on, I was supposed to write 50,000 of them. I don’t have any.

NaNoWriMo 2016, part 1

There’s my graph. I didn’t post on Wednesday, because Wednesday wound up being a day wherein I didn’t do a lot of …

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