Thank You, NaNoWriMo. Love, a Loser.

25 Nov

There’s been more hoopla this year than others, it seems, about how National Novel Writing Month ( isn’t for *serious* writers doing *serious* writing.

This year, I think I have a better idea than ever what purpose NaNoWriMo serves in my growth as a writer, as a professional, and as a person.

First, some history: My first NaNo novel (Gathering Grace) was written in 2006 and published in 2008. My 2007 novel was flushable dreck. Two years ago, when I wrote my 2008 NaNo novel, I had a different last name, address, career, and family than I have today. To put it mildly, it’s been a busy couple of years. Work on that 2008 novel lapped my aborted 2009 attempt, and was finally completed in May of 2010. It’s still in draft, pending at least four chapters of POV rewrites, and I’ve started talking with agents.

This year, I thought I should probably spend November being serious and responsible, working on rewrites and edits of the last completed novel.

But I really wanted something new. Like a toy or jewelry or pancakes or a new Windows Phone 7 – something shiny and distracting and lovely. Work – my new career – is full of new challenges and circumstances, but those kinds of new don’t stay shiny and sparkly all the time.

So I gave myself permission to write something new, as long as I was methodical and engaged in good writing practices, and wouldn’t write something that would require so much editing this time. I came up with characters, setting, central conflicts on three levels.

This poor story was plotted to within an inch of its life. And my poor main character just wasn’t up to it. Not quite six thousand words in, and she was ready to give up. With the challenges I knew were coming up, the story was going to end very, very badly. I didn’t have the heart to read – much less to cause – that kind of distress. I let her keep her baby, keep her job, and go home.

I was still intrigued with one of my supporting characters, though. I started to write about her, and it turns out she’s got a fantastic story to tell – and a uniquely effective way to tell it. I’m thrilled I met her, and that NaNoWriMo gave me the opportunity to tell this story. But there is one problem: what with stalling out on the novel I intended, I’m unlikely to write enough words this month to meet the 50,000 goal.

What’s important? To be discouraged about not meeting 50,000, or to write the story whether or not it’s for this contest?

Heh. I know the answer to that one.


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