No, NoNaNo

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I am not participating in NaNoWriMo this year.

Last year, I took some rather timid steps into NaNoWriMo — which is to say I signed up on the site. I didn’t provide a name (Did I want to use a pseudonym?) or project title (Which did I want to write?). I did, however, start writing. I did not reach the officially sanctioned 50,000-word target, but I did put down some 7,000 words or so. And I kept writing, arriving at around 11,000 words by New Year’s Eve.

—By which time I had driven the story into a ditch. I needed to get some distance from that one before continuing, so I climbed out, walked back home, and started anew.

NaNoWriMo 2013 didn’t result in a draft. But what it did do was get me into the habit of writing, and I loved it.

And so, on January 1, I picked up out of my archives a single paragraph I had written years ago, and decided to run with it. Every day I wrote, piling on the word count, not really knowing where the concept implied in those words would take me. It was an agonizing adventure. Before completing the draft, I started rewriting — which some would say is a fatal mistake, but for me it was essential so I could continue to build upon what had happened before. And so it went, rewriting old words, writing new words, cutting, editing, expanding … and crying, screaming, growling, laughing, at times despairing, but always determined to keep going.

After setting aside the previous novel, I was not about to give up on this one.

Some nine months and 75,000 words later, I completed my “first draft” and sent it off to “my” editor (about whom I’ll write in another post). In about a week, I expect to get her edits and notes back. And then I will be diving into revisions, which will keep me busy through the rest of the month, and who knows how far beyond?

And so, no NaNo for me. But it’s where I started, and, indirectly at least, it’s what’s keeping me away.

Cold Saké, our first book, available on Kindle

Laura Lis Scott:

This was what took me off of the NaNoWriMo path, but has been a very rewarding experience. It’s a privilege to work with Katherine M. Lawrence. This first novelette is but the beginning.

Originally posted on Toot Sweet Ink:

Cover for Cold Saké novelette, Kindle edition

In this novelette, set in 12th-century Japan, a young woman samurai encounters torment and betrayal when seeking a night’s refuge at a remote inn that people say is haunted.

We uploaded the Kindle file yesterday at about 3pm MST, and saw that it was live in a couple of hours. We are very proud to offer our first published book, Cold Sake, A Yamabuki Story (The Pillow Book of a Samurai)! We’ll be publishing a paperback edition as well.

Note that this book also includes an extended excerpt from Katherine M. Lawrence’s full-length novel, Haru (Spring), which we will be publishing soon. In fact, Haru (Spring) is the first of an epic 5-novel saga, Tales of the Autumn Creek Land, about the woman samurai Yamabuki in the years leading up to the Gempei Wars. Sign up for the Inkvine, our newsletter, to get all the latest on…

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NaNoWriMo, without grades

No, I did not reach the 50,000-word floor that NaNoWriMo puts out there as a goal for sprint-writing in November. I didn’t come close. (4,286 is the count, to be exact.) But I don’t care, for two reasons:

  1. I spent much of my writing time editing the manuscript of someone else’s novelette. (More on that soon.)
  2. Writing is about process, not about distance.

I embraced the NaNoWriMo endeavor not so much to see if I have the right stuff to blast out 50k words in 30 days. I know I can do that. I’ve done it before, blogging, writing screenplays, writing short stories. I can be pretty long-winded on the keyboard, despite my best intentions.

No, I NaNoed simply to jump-start the process.

I have a day job that’s pretty all-engrossing. It demands my attention all my waking hours, and not a few of my sleeping hours as well. I needed an occasion to give myself permission to get back into writing. This was it.

And it worked, such as it is. I have a concept, a very very rough outline, a main character I’m kind of liking, and a few scenes. Enough to hang onto. Enough to build upon.

People flog themselves over NaNoWriMo. So many who don’t reach 50,000 words call the endeavor a failure. “I tried NaNoWriMo and failed!” What crap. This isn’t grade school. This is life. This is craft. This is something you do, not something you achieve.

Are you writing? Guess what. That’s not failing.

Writing. Editing.

They’re two different jobs. I’ve been doing a bit of both this month. On the one hand, NaNoWriMo isn’t really happening for me. On the other hand, I’m helping a novelette get published, and I think it’s pretty good work. So that’s good.

NaNoWriMo as motivator

I’ve been writing for decades, but I haven’t turned a sustained effort towards fiction in ages. I guess blogging and work and other things have kept me busy enough. But they don’t satisfy me like writing.

So I’ve been turning some of my intention towards writing a novel I have in mind. That’s why I created this blog here. And I created it on WordPress.com so I won’t get distracted by designing and developing this blog itself. That would be all to easy of a procrastination activity. Oh, I can’t write today! I have to deploy some module updates!

NaNoWriMo has always intrigued me, and I contemplated using it as a motivator before to actually get writing. But I didn’t. Now I truly intend to do it. Or stick with it. Or use it as a jump to at least get going.

Because getting going is the point. I’ve written about 1000 words of the new novel so far, but they’re terrible. They don’t have the right voice. And now I think I’ve found the right voice. So I want to continue.

In a way, NaNoWriMo is a kind of collective, structured freewriting. A way to get away from the internal editor that prevents you from actually getting anywhere. And I like that idea. It’s liberating.

As for what I’m writing, that will have to wait. I don’t like to talk about what I’m writing until I have made some real progress.

No more posts.