NaNoWriMo Fail

Here I sit, deadline approaching and it is clear I have failed.  For the first time in four attempts, I will not be finishing NaNoWriMo.  What’s that you say?  National Novel Writing Month.  A contest of sorts challenging folks to write 50k words during the 30 days of November.   The idea is to write, write, write, and then revise and edit later.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo for the last three years, each year finishing with no trouble.  This year…not so much and it’s sort of killing me. For the last two weeks I’ve been trying to use every possible second to finish, but I’ve failed.  Even now I’m tempted to give it one last push…  But I need to just let this one go.

Part of my failure this month is that I started a novel that’s a sequel to one I’m still revising.  So instead of it being this joyful start to something completely new, I kept thinking about what impact a revision in novel number one would have on novel number two.  It drove me batty.  That and, sadly, 13k words into the sequel I was so freaking sick of my characters I couldn’t go on.  I hated them.  They were boring, their story was boring and I wanted nothing more to do with them.

In a moment of either brilliance or insanity (time will tell) I went back to the first novel and resolved their story line there, chucked the 13k I had already written, and started over with other characters from the same world.  This wasn’t a mistake exactly, but it was difficult to recover my momentum.

That decision gave birth to another problem.  I didn’t have a plot thought out for the new characters.  I had ideas since I have back stories and ideas for all the characters in that world, but without an actual plot things got silly right off.  I restarted over and over again trying to get traction from the very vague ideas I had.  It shouldn’t have been a problem because I’m a pantser (click the link for more info) not a plotter, or so I thought.

Somewhere along the line I changed camps, or at least I left the realm of the true pantster.  No longer can I just sit down with a blank screen and fight my way to 50k.  I just can’t do it. I have to know where I’m going and I just don’t have it with this novel yet.

The final factor was work.  I’ve been wicked busy – which I actually prefer, just not when I’m trying to write a novel in 30 days.

In the end I’m content with the attempt.  Theodore Roosevelt so wisely said “Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure… than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”

I’d rather give it my best and face-plant, than never try at all.  That and I’ve got a great start on a second novel.  I can pick it up in January when things are less crazy and actually spend some time deciding what I want to do with these characters and write something worth reading.  That’s the best part of NaNoWriMo, walking away with the great start of something. I’m holding onto that happily.

Editing, Editing, Editing

The title is an answer to what I’ve been up to for the last some-odd weeks.  I am doing a great workshop called From Pitch to Published.  The book is now down to 90k words and they’re all really fabulous!  Actually, fixing your manuscript is the first order of business.  Then comes the really hard part of fixing your query and perfecting your pitch.

I’d rather edit a 500k novel down to 50k then write a query.  Sad, but true.  To write an effective query you have to do your homework, be bold, but not too bold, and you have to have hutzpah.  I’ve written before about my lack of hutzpah.

Right now I am finishing up edits that have made me one seriously happy writer.  The book is better, tighter, and I think anyone who read the first few chapters will be happy with the changes, although they are substantial.

If you’re a regular reader you’ve probably noticed that the first chapters are no longer up.  My apologies. I had to take them down since I found out that some publishers frown on putting up whole chapters since essentially that’s me self-publishing.

If you’d like to read the new versions let me know and I’ll send them over.  I’d love to hear your opinion on them.


Thanks, as always, for reading!