Monday, January 21, 2013

Belated End of NaNo Report

Hi All,
 I just realized the other day that, amazingly enough, it was nearing the end of December - is almost a week into January. - Is January. (How in the world did that happen?!) Not only did Christmas and the New Year creep up on us, but November is long gone and we never let you know how our latest Nano projects went!
It was a rather . . . . interesting month, that is to be sure.
There was a lot of frustration, lots of stress, lots of exclamations that used a whole lot of exclamation points, and gummy words worms (There, you see how it affected me? I can't even use basic words even now! Of course . . . the idea of gummy words is quite appealing . . .it could be inspiration and a reward all at once!) as a reward when word goals were reached. (Or dark chocolate, for those who turn their noses up at the yummy gummies.)


      NaNo . . . Yes . . . well . . . . it was quite an interesting little study.
To begin with, I seem to lack some kind of vital brain function, because not only did I decide to write a thriller for NaNo (something I am entirely unfamiliar with writing), but I also decided to make it even harder and throw the plot smack dab in the middle of a steampunk era . . . . which I also know absolutely zilch about.
Despite the fact that I don't know how to write thriller . . .or Steampunk, my novel took off quite nicely, managing to jot off a respectable word count during the first couple of days that set my finishing goal way earlier than I had expected. Knowing the penchant of Writers Block to pop up regularly, as well as the fact that we decided to schedule our writing so we wouldn't be writing anything on Sunday's, I was happy with my daily word count. I figured that with the days I wouldn't be able to write I would still be able to comfortably finish before the end of the month. (Unlike Camp NaNo where I was writing feverishly at 11:30 the last night to get to the finish line.)

    You learn things about yourself when you are knee deep in spelling and grammar errors, grappling with a deadly case of Writers Block. For one thing, spelling isn't all that important *nods* really, I'm serious, if we writers can come up with stories why can't we just come up with new words? *hopeful look* Okay, so, spelling is important, but you don't have to worry about it until you go back to clean up your first draft, until then? Completely ignore it, if you can. (Which is actually harder than it sounds.)
You also learn more about the little tricks you employ when you have absolutely no idea what to do and need to write something . . . . anything to get going again.
For instance?  This particular NaNo was somewhat easy to go off onto tangents about, well, anything. Why you ask? Because when I hit a block I simply turned around and made my character have a deep, philosophical discussion/argument with themselves as they wandered the shadowy corridors of the place they were trapped in. Or came up with intriguing little plot twists . . . .that never actually came to a conclusion because, well, I forgot where I was going with them . . . or couldn't remember if I had explained said plot twist or not. . . .
   Once the manuscript was finished I sat back, heaved a sigh, and told my sisters that I didn't think there had been one conclusion in the entire book! But hey, why quibble with minor details like that? It was FINISHED! That's what counted.  I could wave goodbye to Writers Block, soothe my inner editor that I had been ignoring, and once again enjoy it whenever my muse decided to flit by and drop a new idea into my lap.
Image used from:

   Another thing you learn about yourself?
You have compulsive problems when you finish your 50k novel in two weeks and find yourself actually picking up and beginning another one. . . . .
Or, perhaps, when the second novel of the month reaches about 25K that you no longer like it, drop it and. . . turn around to start ANOTHER ONE! . . . . . .
It is right about that point when you realize that, perhaps, just maybe, you are certifiably crazy.
(You also begin to talk about yourself in third person, as though no one will figure out who you mean:)

Irish Rose:
      Needless to say, Sharpi's was by far the most interesting NaNo experience of the year.  I deveated from my comfort zone and attempted my hand at mild fantasy - which I figured shouldn't have been all that hard.  It's fantasy for crying out loud - what I don't know about a basic fairy tale I was at liberty to make up, right?  :)  Turns out, making stuff up isn't as easy as it sounds.

       I finished my word count on time . . . but that is about as far as my bragging rights go.  I'd had what I considered to be a really great story idea about a year ago, so I saved it for NaNo . . . yeah, see if I do that again.  I spent time world building, fleshing out characters to the point where some of them had their own sound-tracks.  Last year I had very little in the way of preparation; I figured this year I'd try something different and plan ahead.  Mmmmm . . . . probably not going to do that again, either.

      In my opinion, 2012's NaNo attempt was 50,000 words of pure rubbish.  I hated the fact that I knew exactly what was coming next in the plot and all the characters were behaving just as I had intended them too.  (Writers *shaking head* . . . they complain that when characters aren't behaving, they complain when they do behave . . . they're just never happy!  Unless we're being handed chocolate and/or are mulling over an amazing new plot line that has yet to see the light of ink.)  In short: I overplanned to the point of sucking all life and enjoyablilty out of my plot-line and characters.

      Moral of the story: idealing, in the crazy world of writing, it is important to strike the perfect balance between "planned" and "unplanned".  Planning isn't a bad thing - as long as it doesn't completely take the place of the story that you are trying to tell in the first place. 

      Was last year's NaNo experiment a failure?  Not if I learned a little more about striking the proper balance between life and story, planned and unplanned.  Will I ever do anything with it?  Who knows . . . there might still be redemable bits, but it is going to take a lot of distance before I can see them clearly.  (I am, after all, my own worst critic.  Always have been.)  Will I do NaNo again this year?  Maybe . . . at this point I promise nothing.  It might come too close to making "plans".  :)

*clears throat* My nano was fine, thank you.................................................Alright fine, I know I won't be able to get away with saying just that.

Normally I never plan; I get an idea but after that I just wait until I look for....say, names.

This time, however, all three of us did a "writing lesson" thingy online.  And doggone'it ALL, I WASN'T GOING TO DO NANO THIS YEAR!  But with that writing thing came a little idea..........Thanks a lot Sharpi.
So this time I had names, families names, places they lived, places they worked, etc, etc.
It went pretty well until about half way. Then I got to thinking about my story line, and started thinking of a different way I wanted it to go.  But with this new way I would have had to delete HALF of what I had already written.

Then one of my loving sisters told me about a little thing called, 'Slash-through''s my new best writing buddy:)
At first it felt like kind of cheating in a way, but then I went with my newer way of going with the story and liked it way better.

I finished about halfway through the month and another idea had been forming in my mind.  So when I was a few days of finishing my first one I started my second.
"Why not" I thought and it started good..............................and then it slid down the cliff.
Halfway through my 50k I was going slower and slower.  I did flashbacks, I did a new twist on the story, I KILLED ONE OF MY GOOD GUYS, which I just don't do!
*whispers* but it's okay, he's still alive.
See how desperate I was, I brought people back from the dead!.................correction: person.

It was like molasses trying to write the night before last of writing.  But I finally finished the morning of the last day and I don't think I'll be doing that again thank you very much.
Notice, I didn't say never:)

All in all it was a fun November, complete with an all night pajama party on the 29th to help give our novels that last big boost before the last day. (Complete with chocolate inspiration and prompt slips to help with those moments you just needed a little bit of prodding.)
Will our novels ever see the light of day again? . . . . My guess would be probably not, but you never know!

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