NaNoWriMo Begins … and I almost Missed the Train

NaNoWriMo begins

NaNoWriMo Day One Word Count: 1,723

The problem with being a “pantser” rather than a plotter in the writing world is the second guessing. At least in my case. Last week, I finally decided which novel I would focus on during NaNoWriMo. The working title of the book is Wings of the Wind. Please don’t judge harshly; I’ve had the title since I was 15. Back then, it wasn’t even the name of a book, but of a character … nothing more. An entity perhaps. He develop in my mind and heart, and at some point along the way, I decided he needed a story. It’s been developing slowly in my mind for nearly 15 years.

Why, then, the second guessing?

I wrote over 15,000 words in this story a number of years ago. Back when I knew nothing of the importance of tension, deeply dimensional characters, POV concepts, or even genres. In other words, I’m starting at the beginning again.

So I’ve been thinking about where to start. And then I began asking myself what the core premise of the story really is. Never mind that I determined that an age ago. Suddenly, everything about the story was in question. The character’s age. The narrative POV. The sub-plots. The minor characters. The plot thickened and thinned and morphed, and I was ready to scrap it … and least for now, and begin working on another story instead.

A score of stories began clamoring for attention. “Pick me! Pick me!” Some of them I’ve begun; others are skimpy outlines, or a sentence-long premise.

Fed up with the sheer amount of ideas and premises bouncing around in my head, I sat outside to clear my head. Clouds still speckled the sky, deep blue from a long-awaited rain. It hasn’t rained in Fresno for months, and finally, the night of October 31, a steady downpour began. A great start to NaNoWriMo, I thought. I love the rain. But even the awesome weather did nothing to aid my creativity.

I prayed. “Lord, I don’t want to come to you just because I want something for myself. But I’m stuck. I don’t know where to begin or even if I should begin. Is NaNo a bad idea this month?” As I sat in the peaceful silence, I realized that I had never exactly committed this latest writing venture to Him. And a sudden dread entered my mind. What if it’s a bad idea this month? What if there is too much to do between work and studies? Maybe I should withdraw from NaNoWriMo this year.

Another writing project filtered into my mind. My first non-fiction book. I completed the second draft in April of this year. It’s been that niggling thought in the back of my mind. Don’t forget! It’s an important book. A unique message. But that’s all it’s been. An untouched “to-do” on my list.

“Okay, God, I’ll focus on my non-fiction project this month too. I’ll take some time each day to get through the third draft.”

I sat quietly, thoughts bouncing not-so-quietly through my mind. The main character of Wings of the Wind drifted through my mind, the thought of her relationship with her mother. A few new ideas crystalized and their relationship transformed. I suddenly knew where to start the story. I could breathe again.

What will come of this story? Of any of the things I am writing, or will write? I don’t know. I have no guarantees. But I have a Father who I am confident is concerned about every aspect of my life, who has a perfect sense of timing, and will guide me at every step and decision … writing and otherwise.

NaNoWriMo begins … and I’m on the train. Are you? If you’re taking part this year, “buddy” me at NaNo’s Website. My user name is bonitajewel. See you there … and Happy Writing!


NaNoWriMo Final Word Count

NaNoWriMo the end

Total Words Written for NaNoWriMo: 38,426

Sorry I am a little late in posting this, my final word count for National Novel Writing Month.

No, I did not reach the illustrious (and dare I say elusive) 50,000-word writing goal. I know I was not the only one. In one of the regular emails I’ve been receiving from the NaNoWriMo site, someone wrote the following:

“Sometimes a story won’t behave, sometimes time is at even more of a premium than usual, sometimes life just gets in the way: these are all perfectly fine reasons you and I may not have reached 50,000 words this past month.”

For me it was kind of all of the above. It was also a separate writing goal I had made, which turned into a “little disappointment” today.

There’s no way of knowing for sure why we don’t always reach the goals we make, especially when we try hard. But no effort is wasted effort. The story I began last month for nanowrimo just was not in the mood for coming together all in one month (few stories are, right?) but I know there will be a time that the characters decide to start bothering me while I’m washing dishes or pulling weeds and that will be the time to take it up and start writing again.

Until then, I have a few more writing projects that are nagging me … and I hope to be sharing more about them in the days to come. Until then, wishing you all a wonderful start to this Christmas season!

NaNoWriMo Day 30

NaNoWriMo Day 30

Words Written on Day 29: 4,700

Total Words Written for NaNoWriMo: 32,781

Rounding the final bend as far as time. Finish line not quite in sight although the timer is about to ring. Maybe I’m more of a marathon runner than a sprinter.

But it has been an interesting journey this past month, with a few lessons learned and a few friends gained.

A couple things I’ve learned on the NaNoWriMo journey?

1. You can’t force inspiration.
On days when the creativity refuses to flow, I can polish things already written or fill in the gaps, but on certain days, forcing my brain to come up with something amazing just doesn’t happen.

2. No plan is fool-proof, but it’s still a good idea to make one.
I didn’t make a writing plan this month. With a full college schedule (and nearing the end of the semester), a variety of editing jobs, as well as other priorities, it was difficult to make any sort of comprehensive plan for writing. But you know what they say about general goals without specific plans to back them up. (And if you don’t, just google “awesome quotes about setting goals … you’ll get the idea.)

3. The best stories take a while to tell.
Some people might beg to differ, but for the most part, it’s true. A storyline I have been working on (obviously not actively) for the past 10 years is the most complex story I have. As it has been slowly developing over a long period of time, I keep getting new ideas and nuances and details about the characters. I’m very excited about the prospect of writing it (hopefully early next year).

And of course, the very best story is only in its beginning page. Perhaps only in the title page … it’s hard to say. But as we are all characters in the vast and overarching tale, the decisions we make, the part we choose to play, and the stories we tell in the great telling, all make a difference in that Story.

The Greatest Story Ever Told.

NaNoWriMo Day 27

NaNoWriMo Day 27

Words Written on Day 26: 1,034

Total Words Written for NaNoWriMo: 28,081

Okay, so in the spirit of full disclosure, I’m going to admit one of the reasons my progress through nanowrimo has been rather unimpressive over the past week or so. I’ve gotten distracted with another writing project.

I finished the first draft of my first novel early this year. After my husband read it and gave me some suggestions, I revised it and sent it out to a number of friends and acquaintances, after which I went through it a third time. Then I didn’t touch it for five months. Let it settle a bit. I’m creating the fourth draft now. It’s amazing how many issues you notice after a five-month sabbatical from a story.

Why is it suddenly a priority when nanowrimo should obviously take precedence? Here’s the confession. I’m hoping to enter a writing contest. The deadline is the second of December. Yes, four days from now. I’m up to page 200 of 388. (Do you remember that thing I said the other day about writers not being quite normal? I was referring to decisions such as this.)

I had almost decided to let the contest deadline pass, but I was talking to the kids about it, and they all told me I had to enter because I would win. Yes, I know a child’s faith in a mother is probably one of the strongest natural elements in existence. But, hey, it doesn’t hurt to try.

Okay, so it might hurt a bit. There’s the cost of entering the contest. And there’s the issue of badly bruised ego if all I get in return is a scathing critique. But even that, if it serves the purpose of creating a stronger story, is worth it, right?

I would appreciate any prayers and happy thoughts over the next four days as I race toward that deadline, as well as the deadline of National Novel Writing Month. (Shouldn’t there be a dash between “novel” and “writing”?)

NaNoWriMo Day 26

NaNoWriMo Day 26

Words Written on Day 25: 819

Total Words Written for NaNoWriMo: 27,047

This is about the time that any normal person would decide that continuing to attempt something as crazy as NaNoWriMo-with-only-four-days-left-and-25000-words-to-write is … well … crazy.

Writers aren’t exactly normal, haven’t you heard?

And no, I am not exactly planning to reach 50,000 anymore. I’m still hoping to, but unless I end up sleepwalking my way to the computer and hammering out about say, 20,000 words, I don’t know how realistic it is.

But I’m still going to get as far as I can. And there’s always next year. In fact, there’s always next month, once classes are over and I have a bit more time to spare (emphasis on “a bit”).

As this month is a writing journey, my plan is to see it to the end. That’s the best any of us can do, right?

Or, as John Steinbeck said:

horse racing

NaNoWriMo Day 24

NaNoWriMo Day 24

Words Written on Day 23: 1,124

Total Words Written for NaNoWriMo: 26,228

Then there are the days when you have no ideas whatsoever.

I worked outside in the morning, pulling weeds in the sunshine, waiting for inspiration to come. Waiting for a scene to develop in my mind without effort.

It did not happen. Not then or any other time throughout the rest of the day.

I typed a little bit here and there, added a bit to a couple of scenes, wrote a lame introduction,

And then gave up.

“You can’t stop the rain.”

That’s something one of my characters stated to the main character, who was attempting to do something rather crazy.

You can’t bring on the rain either.

My mental cloud seeing/rain dance attempts fell flat. Tomorrow is another day, though. Maybe that will be the day that all the scenes fall into place and I am inspired to write ten thousand words.

All I know is, if it doesn’t happen soon, I might not hit the 50,000-word mark by the end of the month.

But I’m still going to try.

It’s often the best we can do. And sometimes, when we try, we’re pleasantly surprised. If we don’t try, we can never be surprised, because everything in life, from smallest to greatest, comes from some form of effort. It might be as small as a belief, or as large as writing a bestselling novel (waiting for the day!) … but it starts with trying.