For the past three years, I’ve dabbled in NaNo. The first year didn’t go so well for me. I had distractions take over my time instead of working on my novel. Add in a complete laptop meltdown and you have a NaNo project screeching to a halt at 28k. A failure, of sorts. The good thing to come out of it? I realized the female co-MC didn’t mesh with the story and I changed not only her name but her background. Making her of Egyptian descent gave me an opportunity to research the lore and from that, I created a smaller piece called ‘Anubis Arises’. That one sits around 11K and has gone through two revisions with another to go.
The next year I decided to do the sequel to a book I started in high school and never finished; also the reason behind the previous year’s work. The plot and storyline in part one was so FUBAR’d, I set it aside until I could completely tear it to shreds. I clocked in on part two around just shy of 56k. One lesson I learned from writing that is always save your first draft before editing. I made the beginning grand with lots of imagery and moved the location to a larger stage as well. What I missed by doing that was the intimacy of the meeting between the MC and a priest. I lost it in one click of the save key and never printed out an original copy. Since then, I save every revision under a different file name. This also helps in making sure you don’t just rewrite something you threw out for a reason. It happens too. I only have to look at part one to know that.
Enter my third year on NaNo. I had several ideas and picked the one that I couldn’t get out of my head when November started. I tore up the keyboard at first, but I slowly ran out of steam. Something about the story didn’t appeal to me. The concept, IMO, had merit. I just wasn’t digging it and it made it hard to continue on. To help this cramping of the brain, I skipped a lot of places to keep the story driving and made notes to reference what I intended to do in the holes. I stopped at 50,010 and reached that goal with about 13 days to go. I quit on the story and had fun making a cover for it. I tried to finish it before the deadline to get a free copy of it printed but again, I couldn’t do it. I polished about three chapters and put it away again.
That’s my NaNo experience in a nutshell. Three unfinished novels, not even counting the other ones I started. So why would I go and do it again? The challenge. The preparation of the ‘what if?’ factor. Authors have deadlines and must meet those deadlines. Since I’ve been concentrating on short stories since the end of July, I need to try something bigger. NaNo gives me this.
I don’t expect, much like the previous years, to finish a novel in a month. It doesn’t happen and anyone who says they have a finished product ready for the local bookshelves is a bullshitter. I laugh my ass off when I watch television shows that feature a writer and they sit behind their typewriter tapping away, placing sheets off to the side one by one. Bam! Completed novel—not. You write a rough draft, edit it once and read it over. Most often it gets another edit to be sure. My rule of thumb is I should get it by the third edit. If I don’t I need to set it aside before I turn potential into a mudded pile of crap. Every writer is different in their approach and no way is truly the correct way. We’re not all wired the same so having your own niche is key.
For those who read this, if anyone does, don’t be alarmed if nothing gets posted in November. I’ve got a goal to make and another unfinished novel to start. Such is my life.