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Things happen in November.  Did you notice?  When you’re engaged in Nanowrimo style writing, life tends to get interesting.  One year I bought land and made the decision to move.  One year Drunk Santa came into my life (this is a long story, which requires a focus of its own.)  People close to me get sick.  Tragedies happen.  And through the middle of it all, the writing goes on. 

I’ve noticed that Nanowrimo affects my brain.  I’m blonde.  I confess.  A reasonably intelligent woman, granted, but one who listens to blonde jokes with the secret understanding of how these things could happen.  During November it gets worse.  I walk around with the story in my head, and everything else falls out.  I turn the wrong way at familiar intersections, I forget important information, I begin projects and forget in the middle what it was that I was doing.  I would like to write with this level of intensity year round, but obviously that would be problematic for my life, at least until I’m rich and famous and can afford to pay people to pay my bills and drive my car and make sure that what needs doing gets done.

Thus it is with some regret that I see November drawing to a close.  It’s been an exciting ride, but reality awaits, like a cat at a mouse hole, waiting to pounce as I stumble staggering into the light of responsibilities and the facts of my existence.

There is good news.  I have created over 53K of words I didn’t have before, making me a Nanowrimo winner.  I like parts of this story, I love my characters, I have discovered something about my style and writing what I am passionate about.

The really awesome news is that an Agent actually responded to one of my queries on REMEMBER and requested a partial.  I’m to send her 75 pages and a Synopsis on the 20th of December.  I keep reminding myself that things may not get any further than that, but hey – it beats a rejection letter.

The end of Nanowrimo always feels to me like the Writer’s New Year.  A time of endings and new beginnings.  In light of this, I propose a post-Nanowrimo toast:

Here’s to all of the writers out there, Nanowrimo or other.  May we all continue creating characters and worlds for them to live in. May we have the courage to make very bad things happen to delightful and fascinating people.  Here’s to finished drafts and query letters and yes, even to rejections.  And most of all,  here’s to the persistent and stubborn dream of published novels and success.  

Nanowrimo and Beyond!

First things first:  Nanowrimo Word Count:  40,100 words.

 Not quite 6 on a Sunday evening, and my weekend goal has been met.  Which leaves me with a quandary.  Shall I forge ahead and see how many more words I can rack up tonight?  Or give the whole thing a rest until tomorrow?  Because I’ve taken tomorrow off, and actually have the unaccustomed luxury of knowing I will have at least a couple of guilt free hours free for writing.

Fast forward to 8 am on Monday morning.  Still at 40,100 words.  I guess that settles that question!  I did enjoy the pleasure reading, though, and I honestly think I needed time for the rest of the story to catch up with me.  This morning, while chatting with my friend Trudy  (who, by the way, has already completed her Nanowrimo project at 57K), I realized how all of the strands of my story are going to come together, and was totally amazed by how everything was going to work out.  It had set itself all up without me even knowing.  I shouldn’t be surprised by this.  It happens every time I write.  And every time, I doubt, only to have it all come together once again.

At 40K, I see where the rewrite is going to take me – which characters need more development, which plot elements need to be played up, and which ones need to be deleted.  A slightly different tone has emerged than I’d originally anticipated, and the plot is not at all what I’d expected.  Parts of it I hate, and parts of it I love, and part of it hasn’t been written yet.  I know, in spite of this morning’s moment of illumination, that there are twists and surprises still ahead.   I never can see straight through to the end.

And this is what I love about writing a novel – the surprise of unexpected characters and plot developments.  I can’t imagine writing from an outline – for me it would be the difference between driving the interstate or adventuring on a largely untraveled mountain road with a different view around every corner.  And yes, including the suspense and fear that maybe what’s around the corner is a car wreck or a giant moose standing in the middle of the road.  


I’m curious – those of you who do write from an outline, who plot and plan your characters in advance – do you get these same surprises?  Or do you just sail smoothly along without the fits and starts and rocks and wild animals in the middle of the road?

For everybody who had goals shared or unshared for the weekend, how did it go?  Did you accomplish what you set out to do, or are you regrouping for your next plan of attack?  Let me know how the world looks to you on this last Monday morning of Nanowrimo 2008.

Good luck this week with whatever stage your writing is at.

No time to be creative, no time to choose my words with care.  It’s Friday morning, I have to work, but I want to set up the weekend challenge.

Behind on Nanowrimo?  Here’s your opportunity to catch up.  Have another writing goal that could use a motivational boost?  Sign up here.  Uppington’s weekend challenge goes on in spite of wind, rain, snow, and other insidious intrusions like work.

What are your goals for the weekend?  I’m aiming for 42 K by Sunday night, and ultimately 50K by Wednesday.  I don’t imagine the family will take delight in me frantically scrambling to not only meet the Nanowrimo deadline but also try to scrounge up an internet connection while we’re out of town for the holiday.  Of course, the goal goes on way beyond the 50 K, but that’s as far as I can look for now.

Anybody else care to state your intentions?  Whatever you do – writing or other – blessings for the weekend.

(Oh – just for the record, I’m at 35 K this morning, with at least one scene’s worth of clear sailing ahead of me.)

“It is necessary, then, to cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you; and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” (Wattles)

I’m guessing I’m not the only one, although it’s possible.  Anybody else struggling with mid-Nanowrimo resentments?  You know – for all of the writing distractions and interruptions, your co-workers, your job, your kids, your pets – all of the entities that suck your creative energy and pull your time away from working on the all important novel?  Even the things you love, the things that give you life, the things that support and nourish you.  Like meals, for example.  And love.  

I’m recognizing the trend in myself, and it ain’t pretty.  It’s amazing what I can get resentful about, once I let myself get started.  The antidote is, pure and simply, gratitude.  Let me say that a better way:  GRATITUDE – the capital letter variety.  Now, parts of this process are fairly simple.  I can sit down and make a list of things that give me pleasure:

Good hot coffee, first thing in the morning


Purring cat


You know – those sorts of things.  The quote of the day, however, suggests taking that one step further.  Practicing gratitude when the cat insists on sleeping on my new laser printer, knocks things down and shreds them, for example.  Being grateful for the challenges of my job and my current feeling of being overwhelmed. Somehow finding the energy to be grateful for the midnight phone call that drags me out of bed into a cold car and down to the local ER.  Or for the rejection letters that just keep on coming…  For the omnipresent clouds and threatening rain.  For the many forces at work pulling me away from time and energy to write.

You can see that I have some work to do, to pull all of these elements into gratitude.  I’m working on it, though.  

One more quote, and then I’m off to deal with the exigencies of the day, which might include adding to my word count if I get my act together:

“When we get out of the glass bottles of our ego,

and when we escape like squirrels turning in the cages of our personality

and get into the forests again,

we shall shiver with cold and fright

but things will happen to us

so that we don’t know ourselves.

Cool, unlying life will rush in,

and passion will make our bodies taut with power,

we shall stamp our feet with new power

and old things will fall down,

we shall laugh, and institutions will curl up like burnt paper.

(D.H. Lawrence)

So there you have it.  I’m off to “stamp my feet with new power.”   I’ll let you know if any institutions curl up like burnt paper!  That would be great writing material.  Happy writing everybody – never, ever give up.


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