IWSG: Finishing (Or Not Finishing) NaNoWriMo Projects

So, I’ve been told I got the wrong question. I’m sticking with it it’s been a hectic month.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
The question for last month was do you finish what you write for nano??
Wow, that’s a tough question. I’m not sure I know what the answer is, since I’m never entirely sure where “finished” begins. Is it when you write the end, and mostly know the story? Is it when the whole thing is polished to a mirror finish?
I usually have enough steam that the first draft gets finished, assuming that I’m not working on a revision at the same time. Revision is usually my big, high-pressure thing, and I get to a point of gotta finish now.
I don’t always revise what I write for nano. If I’ve lost interest, or if the story just doesn’t seem to be up my alley, I may choose not to revise at all, or the revision might peter out before I have a final clean version. I’m learning to embrace the idea that not everything I write is for publication or even anything other than experience.
I have a wide assortment of manuscripts that I will never polish that well on my hard drive, and I feel like I’ve learned from all of them. The ones that I want to spend enough time on to make presentable are special.
One of the things I learned from revising my first manuscript–the very first one, and it was really hard, and really long–was that there’s something dangerous about having “THE” manuscript. If it’s the ONLY manuscript, it makes it much more difficult to make objective decisions about it, and you tend to keep revising forever. As soon as you have that second manuscript written, you start having real choices. And that’s when I stopped revising in circles and moved forward.

Can’t NaNo. Moving Furniture.

Today was a busy little day. I got up early and actually did… some more work on my revision. It’s becoming fairly obvious what my priorities are. I want to finish my revision. I want to finish it on time, and then start querying the hell out of it.

Oh, yes… and I’d like a new project to help me escape the general tension of querying the hell out of anything.

I came up with a newer, shinier idea than the one I’m working on for NaNo. That’s always a good sign that NaNo may be over. For me, at least.

And I moved the furniture. Not all of the furniture, but a serious preponderance of the furniture. I rearranged the living room so that the furniture is now set at an angle to the walls. The general living room-y goodness is mostly intact. Well, let’s be honest. A change is always nice. Right now, it’s also a fabulous excuse for not having done much of anything today.

My new power supply arrived this afternoon, and I got it replaced in record time, so there will be no more dire warnings about the unstable old power supply. I think a moment of silence is in order, since that’s the last remaining part from the original build. I’m so attached to that machine, I’ll probably be swapping out parts when I’m a hundred and ten.

I finished up another scene from my revision–must type–, and wound up with a freebie or two. You know what I mean… pages that I don’t have to revise because the relevant information wound up being included in an earlier part of the manuscript. Not too bad, all said and done.

Chiseling Away and Building Up

My nano notebook gained an index, today. Nothing major, just a couple of index cards (one for each of the major projects I’m working on, right now) that have the name of the project at the top, and a list of dates and scenes that I was working on. They live in the pocket at the back of my notebook, and in theory, I should be able to track down scenes from that, after I’ve misplaced them.

I did some math, and one notebook = right around 50 k. (If I’m allowed to count notes, and plotting, and if I hit 250 words per page… well, that’s pretty close. I also realize that if I’m trying to stay on track, the idea of fill this notebook pulls all the goals from all the different projects together.

Today was a rewrite day. I’m pulling a scene from my revision apart and putting it back together, using entirely new parts. As it turns out, the wrong person got beat up in the first draft, and in the revision, I’m fixing that. I would rather not beat up the new person, but there you go.

More heart-stopping assault and battery.

The new words are going in the nano notebook. Hence, the index cards.

I’m hitting a little patch of backstory, and I’m debating how much of it to keep. Some of it may be the solution to my pacing problem. More than that, and it may become a whole ‘nother pacing problem.

The question is… whose backstory do I include? It’s all the same event as seen by multiple characters. I have it written in several different forms, and I’m not sure whose version is the most important or the most relevant.

I have two main options, and I think the choice is probably already made in the back of my mind somewhere. I’ll see if I’m thinking the same way in the morning.

Nano-procrastination and nicknames

I’m getting to a point where I’m drifting away from my nanostory. I don’t know what comes next. I like the characters and the setting, but the plot… Well, if you’re doing Nano, you know about the plot. And my revision is a nifty excuse for not working on it.

Or, maybe we could say that my revision is the priority.

But then… Really? A bigger priority than space-faring cannibal engineers? What am I thinking?

I’m thinking about nicknames, today, and whether there’s a gender-based difference in how we use them. Maybe it’s something cultural. But it hit me, today that there are those of us who use (randomly selected, unsanctioned) nicknames to mean that either you are friends, or you would like to be friends, and then, there are those of us who mean I don’t know you, and it’s not worth the effort to get to know you. Yes, I had an encounter. The guy in question is both male and straight-up American. Maybe it’s a situational difference.

So, keep your ears open for me, and give me your thoughts on how you hear people using nicknames over the next few weeks.

In general, I despise them. With a hierarchy of course. Some nicknames/pet names are more of an abomination than others. But I’m fairly sure that most people are actually capable of learning my real name. Or, you know… “hey you” works in a pinch. This was someone I don’t know substituting a term of endearment for the name he doesn’t know. I’m wandering off on a tangent.

So, anyway… the revision is moving, although I do need to look at some pacing issues, now that I’ve done some jumping around.

What’s New? And Other Questions Not To Ask During NaNoWriMo

I don’t know why it is that people (that would be non-writers) always stumble into the questions that you probably shouldn’t ask a writer on a fast-drafting binge.

And I don’t know how they manage to sound so utterly clueless while they’re doing it.

I mean… there can’t really be people out there who are unaware of the high holy day month that is NaNoWriMo, can there? I’ve invited a couple of people to join me in the excitement, and having some strange fascination with sanity, both of them have declined. (Whilest backing away slowly, and removing any sharp objects from my immediate reach.)

Nonetheless, co-worker has decided that today is a good day to ask me “What’s new?”

This isn’t someone I know well. And maybe if I hadn’t been right in the middle of trying to think of how a cannibalistic alien and a time traveler find common ground, I wouldn’t have found it so annoying.

And he does tend to hover.

So, of course, when I said there’s nothing new, rather than accept that, and move on, he pointed out that he hasn’t talked to me in six months. (Which may be literally true) and something must be new.


Not a thing.

There are times when I’ve answered the same kind of question from the same person with a real answer. Being a non-writer, though, he doesn’t really want a real answer. For a second, I actually thought I’d killed him last year, when I informed him that my nano book was about a family that is caught in a quantum entanglement with another family who died at Hiroshima.

I could actually not think of a single “new” thing in my life that would interest him.

Or a lot of people.

Perhaps I should have children. Then, when someone asks me a question like that, I can go into detail about potty training, and how little Herkimer is making poo-poo in the toilet. (And by the way, we’re talking about the most beautiful, trumpet-shaped dumps you’ve ever seen in your life.)

Or not.

This question is, of course, still topped by the guy who asked if I didn’t think I should finish the first book, and revise it, and get it published before I start in on the next one.

Uhm, no, and by the way… don’t you think you should raise the first kid… get him through school… and medical school before you start in on the next one?

If I didn’t need to work on my revisions over my lunch hour, a lot fewer people would know that I am writing a novel, let me tell you.

I’m not sure there are any good questions to ask about someone else’s novel, particularly if you don’t know them well, and are not working on something, yourself.

Yes, My Words Count for Word Count

Today is day 5 of NaNoWriMo, and I’m busily listing all of the things I know about my characters and my setting.

Because I don’t have the faintest idea where the story goes from here.

This is where fast-drafting becomes really odd for me. It’s a little more like talking to myself than, you know, actually producing a novel. Or, maybe more precisely, my characters are sitting around talking to each other, and nothing is really happening, except, possibly, I’m working out the various relationships in the book.

The what’s going on.

The starting point.

And five days in and thousands of words on the page just seems like a really strange place to be looking for a starting point.

I’m trying to remember if this is just one of the phases of my picking up a new novel, or if there’s something wrong with this scenario.

I think the answer is that if I keep going, things will be fine.

But right now, there are a lot of things to distract me. Including, by the way, my own revision. Right now, it would be incredibly easy to walk away and never come back. It’s not that the topic is bad, it’s that the momentum just isn’t there, yet.

And damn, right, I’m going to count the list-writing words, and the characters talking to each-other words, and the inner monologues while staring at an engine words.

They may not turn out to be in the finished novel, but they’re definitely a part of the process.

NaNoWrimo Prep Month

National Novel Writing Month is coming up in three weeks. Three weeks?!? Yup. Twenty-one days.

And while I’ve always been a little hit-or-miss in winning NaNo, I usually start the month with good intentions.

This time, I’m starting the month with two pristine notebooks (240 pages each) and a shiny set of brand-new ballpoints in multiple victory-oriented colors.

What are we doing tonight, Brain?

Same thing we do every night, Pinky… Try to take over the world. Try to write a cleaner first draft.

So, I have notebooks. Of a hard-bound, and pocketed variety, in the hopes that I’ll

  • Write neatly organized and linear scenes. (And the truth is, what I hand write really does tend to be less fragmented than what I type.)
  • Be able to look and see whether a given day was a good day or a bad day.
  • Not have little scraps of paper running around the bottom of my purse and the back of my hard drive.

I’m also working on finishing up the revision of my current novel. Which demands at least some time in November to finish on schedule.

I have a couple of ideas. I’m not really at the talking about them stage, yet, but I’m working on deciding between them.

I’m not that much of an outline person, but I do have a wide variety of index cards so I can make myself a plot deck as I go along.

If anybody wants to buddy up, my NaNo profile is at https://nanowrimo.org/participants/r-typewriter and I’d be glad to hear from you here, too.

Are you doing NaNo, this year? Why or why not? Tips for the terrified? Leave me a comment, and hit the share buttons, to pass on the insanity.

And the NaNoWriMo Results…

At the beginning of last month, I set out to write a novel–50,000 words of one,  anyway–in 30 days.

And… I was going to do this one sheet of paper at a time, in hopes of a cleaner draft and ultimately, an easier revision. (I’m always looking for an easier revision.)

I was behind from day one.

Obviously, write longhand and then type is not the best strategy for speedy drafting. And that really wasn’t the point.

At the end of the month, I had roughly 14,000 words. That’s not great, and it’s not even average for me. (I usually wind up closer to thirty or forty thousand words in a month, and I aim a little higher than that in a good year.)

I was also blogging–mostly unrelated–and that would add a few thousand more words. Haven’t counted. And there’s the short story I wrote for the Advent Calendar this year. Oh. And I never really got away from the revision I was working on before I started Nano.

So, I started on November 1st with ONE piece of paper on a clipboard and a pencil.

And I started writing the ONE scene that was lodged in my mind.

And then, what?

Well, I found a few more scenes over the course of a month, but I never really got into the story. It never started to feel like one of my stories, and I never really started having fun with it.

Maybe I was a little afraid of this one. It’s the kind of thing that has to be done really well. Otherwise… it would fall off the edges, and either turn into a sermon or a farce.

So… what I learned from NaNoWriMo 2016

  • writing longhand DOES produce cleaner drafts BUT in my case, at least, the reduction in speed adds up to a reduction in passion. I’m not sure which part of that is going to be useful in the future.
  • I may be better off to write as a NaNo Rebel, and work on whatever I already have in the works.
  • Even if something sounds more efficient, it may not be the best path for me.
  • I still need to get out there and be a part of the community, even when things aren’t going well. I started tanking in word count, and withdrew. I didn’t do a lot of the social things on the Nano Site that I would have liked to.

For next year… I’m not really sure what the goal should be, but I’m probably going to keep working on whatever I’m working on when it gets here. I’ll also focus more on the community building aspect of it.

So, what about you? Lessons learned? Strategies for next year?

And In NaNo Novel News…

My main character has just eloped. With a fairly brilliant physicist. Who knows less about his own family history than she does. (His dead, non-English speaking grandmother told her all about it.) I don’t have the faintest idea what that has to do with anything. At any rate, they’re married, Vegas-style, and he’s in their hotel room on their wedding night, offering her an annulment.

They are not getting an annulment.

What I have right now is a series of fragments. I don’t understand exactly how they go together, and the only thing keeping me from quitting is ONE mysterious character who’s dug in his heels.

I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong. Maybe it didn’t have enough time to gel before I started in on it. Maybe I’m intimidated by the whole topic. Who knows?

Anyway, I have to track down more fragments, and get in some more words.

Wish me luck.

Plotting and Planning

I can’t really think of anything to write, right now.

Okay. That’s a lie. I can think of things to write, but I’ve decided to grant myself a cooling off and thinking break, instead. I’m at a place where there’s just so much stuff in my head, and it’s all jumping around.

So, let’s talk about my plans for the next couple of months, instead.

I have the Insecure Writers’ Support Group coming up on December 7th. And apparently, the question of the month is about 5 year career plans for writers. They’ve also announced the upcoming guests on the IWSG page, and I’m pretty excited to hear from them.

I have the Independent Bookworm’s Advent calendar. Must have a story for that in… oh, yeah. Less than a week. If you’re interested in getting a short story in your e-mail every day leading up to Christmas, that’s what this is. And we’re including some kind of “extra” surprise. You can sign up to get the stories at the link above.

I’m also working on pulling together a coherent approach to the A-to-Z Challenge in April. I’d like to put out some short stories, but I still don’t know how many of them. I’m starting with one day a week, and then I’ll move up to two, and so forth, as I gain content. I’m still looking for the right theme to go with them. If you want to join me for another path to writer insanity, link above.

And then, there’s all the treading water I’m doing for NaNoWriMo. I may have to break down and include blog entries, if the story I’m working on doesn’t gain some traction, soon.