He settles the childless woman in her home as a happy mother of children. —Psalm 113:9

October 25, 2010

Getting Off the 'WriMo Fence

I’ve been riding the fence about whether to do NaNoWriMo this year. With a week to go until it starts, I think I’ve decided to go for it. Sadly, I’ll probably have to forgo the social aspects--I can either make time to write OR to hang out in the forums and go to the parties and write-ins, but not both; and since the goal is to see how many words of manuscript you can produce, not how much you can gab about it and post in the forums... I’m sure you get the idea. And so far I haven’t even had time to see what’s going on in the local forum, or to update my profile on the web site.

For those who don’t know what I’m talking about, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which is the month of November. To participate, you try to write at least 50,000 words on a brand new novel by the end of the month. I’ve been playing along every year since 2006. The only year I “won” and actually accomplished all 50,000 words was in 2007, when I hammered out the first draft of This Old Haunt. In 2008 I invoked the Zokoutu clause--which states that if you’ve won in a previous year you can go ahead and work on a story already in progress--to finish the first draft of the same novel that had also served as my 2006 entry. I won by my own standards, in that I finished the draft, but it didn’t take 50,000 words to get there, so I didn’t get the winner’s badge.

Last year I went in whole hog for the first half of the month, attending all of the local meetups and write-ins and hammering out about 20,000 words on a story about what vampires would do if a zombie apocalypse threatened to wipe out their food supply. Then I found out I was pregnant, and suddenly zombies and vampires were the last things on my mind, so I dropped out.

Since then I’ve had a pretty tumultuous year, with back-to-back miscarriages leaving me without much of a desire to write. I’ve managed to joylessly crank out several factual articles for pay, and I managed a few essays, and a couple of half-hearted attempts at a new novel. I tried to polish a third draft of that 2006/2008 manuscript, but it just wasn’t coming together and I filed it away in that proverbial drawer where first (and second and sometimes third and fourth) novels often go to die.

Now we come back around to where this bumpy year started. I’m approaching it with ambivalence--my second baby’s due date was to be November 4th, so that’s weighing on me. Plus I’m really busy with work right now. But I know that I’ll never run out of excuses to put off getting back to my fiction writing, and that if I wait for perfect timing I’ll never write fiction again.

So my goal for this November is simply to write fiction again. I’m not going to worry about word count, and I’m not going to do any pre-writing preparation. I’ve got the nugget of a plot and I’m just going to take that and write by the seat of my pants and see what comes of it. If I can get back into a regular writing habit--and more importantly, if I can discover the joy of writing fiction for myself again--I’ll consider it a win, regardless of whether or not my word count bar turns purple.

What about you, dear readers? Are any of you doing NaNo this year? If so, what are your personal goals, and what are you doing to prepare? By the way, if you want to be my NaNoWriMo buddy, you can click here to add me.

1 comment:

jmbauhaus said...

Have you tried the adopt a plot thread in the NaNo forums?

My idea came to me last week in the car, which made me realize part of the reason I never feel inspired these days is because I hardly ever drive anywhere by myself. I used to get most of my ideas and work out most of my plots during my 45-minute morning and evening work commutes. Now that I work at home and live 5 minutes away from everything, my brain doesn't get much of a chance to wander.

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