Didn’t finish and pretty happy about it.

Nanowrimo 2013 did not get done! I didn’t finish this year. I quit just before Thanksgiving, and for no reason other than I was boring myself silly.  Time and solitude were on my side more than ever before, with both girls in school and days completely to myself, yet it felt impossible to escape my tired old ideas, characters and plotlines. This nano-apathy started a couple years ago when I realized that every novel I’d written repeated the same theme with the same characters in rotating locations They always had the same problems, same motivations, same adventures, same quirks.  Blah, you know? 

Last December (2012),  I accidentally saved a short article I had written over my completed nano novel and I lost the whole 50K in a second…with a single, thoughtless click.  It was definitely startling.  I expected to be devastated, but I wasn’t, and to lose that body of work was strangely liberating.  To read about it, click here.

What I didn’t like about my novel this year is that even though I didn’t want to write about the same stuff of the past ten years, the same stuff kept trying to be written, and from my vantage point, this stuff was a snore. So, last week, when I hit the 30K point just before our company came for Thanksgiving, I faced a choice.  

Choice #1: I could hunker down, remove myself from much of Thanksgiving, write the last 20K words and cross the finish line in time.  I type really fast and I’m great at generating lots of bullshit very quickly.  I could get it done!

Choice #2:  I could cook, hang out with family that we don’t get see as often as we’d like, enjoy our new house in Vermont, actually READ, learn how to play (and love) Chinese checkers, make fires in our enormous fireplace, and go with the flow. I could quit!

Should I break my streak when I still had the chance to win it?  Why not, you know? It really didn’t take long for me to decide to stroll through that door marked “STOP WRITING.” I closed the document, shut the laptop, poured myself a glass of wine, and relaxed.  

I really DO want to write a novel, just not the kind I’ve written that has helped me win nano for so long. It’s time for me to get out of the nanowrimo rut that I’ve gotten myself into.  Maybe I’m done with nanowrimo for good, or I might simply need a break.  Either way, December is here and I have lots of novels I want to READ and lots of old -fashioned journal writing I need to catch up on.  

We’ll go from there.

 

Starting.

This morning I wrote a beginning.  For years I’ve wanted to explore my college friendships, the ones that began the first day of freshman orientation in 1984 and continue through today.  I started with a scene from freshman orientation at Wooster, with the girls in my campus house sitting in circle being told by our RA that we were now WOMEN and should no longer call ourselves or each other GIRLS.  The term GIRLS, as of that day, no longer applied, we were told, and I remember thinking it very silly because if there ever was a day I felt like a little girl, it was that first day of my life living away from home.  I wrote about my friend, Heather, whose birthday it was, and who shared birthday cake or cupcakes or some kind of treat with a houseful of potential friends.  I wrote how Heather came to college with a collection of brand new monogrammed wooden hangers.  As I always do with nanowrimo, the story becomes autobiographical, at least in the desire, feelings and motivations of my my main character.  It’s my go-to way of generating lots of words in a very short time, but every year I sincerely want to make what I write a little deeper and more developed.  We’ll see what happens.  In the meantime, my prologue starts with a gang of young women (old girls?) meeting on the first day of college.  After that, I’m really not sure, but at least it’s a start, and I desperately needed to start.

It’s back.

Is today really November 1st and the onset of National Novel Writing Month?  Wasn’t it merely a few weeks ago I was sharing the sad tale of erasing my entire 2012 novel just days into December?  No matter.  Novel time is upon us and once again, for the 11th year, I enter into it with no ideas at all. Last year I thought it wasn’t possible to have any less of an idea than I did, but this year I have even less of less of an idea.  Okay, that’s not entirely true. I do have a handful of ideas, but they are skittish and elusive and won’t let me catch them yet.

Still, even without an idea, I CANNOT WAIT TO GET STARTED.

This year’s November will be different for a few reasons, and I’m hoping that I can channel these changes into something that for once is a little different and keeps me excited.

What???? It’s already 1:30 pm and I haven’t started yet. Time to unpack my cans of Whoopass and zap that pesky procrastination fairy that’s hovering over my shoulder.  And by Whoopass, I mean these helpful folks:  MacFreedomWrite or Die. and Stay Focusd..  One alone works just fine, but as a team, they mean business.

And…POOF!

Why worry about things we can’t change, right?

It’s a damn good thing that every November I have no illusions that I write anything but 50,000+ words of nonsense because this morning I accidentally erased the whole thing and it cannot be retrieved.   One of these days I may progress to writing something other than an extended autobiographical journal entry, but until then I’m not going to sweat the loss. I participate in nanowrimo for reasons that have little to do with writing something publishable.  It’s enough for me to know that after ten years of doing this,  I can still crank out those 50K words during a short, busy, travel-filled, often dreary  month.  The truth is,  if I had to choose between not meeting the 50K challenge or losing the book, I’d lose the book.

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My eyes feel like they might implode, but I actually might make it.  Thank goodness for my tenth grade typing teacher and my complete willingness to type crap and nonsense at a freakishly fast rate.  Thank goodness for my slacker gene that is quite content not achieving perfection. I guess I’ve done this long enough to know that the goal of National Novel Writing Month is not, and never will be, quality.  It’s about getting it done and dealing with quality later, if ever.  The crazy thing is, I finally like my story and think there’s something to it, but it took until the last day of nanowrimo for me to get there.

I just wrote   100+ words here  that could have gone towards my word count.  Silly.