NaNoWriMo stands for NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth, a crazy venture in which hundreds of thousands of writers from beginners to seasoned authors write (or attempt to write) a novel of at least 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. Yes, this is a thing. It’s been going on since 1999!
I joined NaNo in 2004 and wrote my fourth novel (or most of it) that November. It was a Young Adult fantasy novel called Quest to Be Queen, which was a ton of fun and a spoof of nearly all fantasy quest novels and movies that then existed. It’s a hot mess, by the way, but maybe someday I’ll go back and fix it.
In 2005, I wrote my first contemporary romance novel during NaNo: Joy Comes in the Morning. It remains one of only two romances of mine that I haven’t published. Hmm, both of them are set in Victoria, BC! Maybe I need to turn them into a series and get them out there. But not this year, that’s for sure.
My 2006 NaNo novel was another YA fantasy called Off Beat. This is a music/mermaid/kitten fairies story that is actually close to publishable. I haven’t “gone there” because I don’t have any other books to market with it. Maybe these two fantasies will see the light of day when my grandgirls are old enough to read and enjoy them — the oldest, SweetPea, will be seven in February, so there’s time yet.
Then for several years, I didn’t participate. I was writing regularly, and always seemed to be in the middle of a project when November rolled around. In 2010 I decided to participate again, this time with a contemporary YA with environmental themes. Although I came up with some great dialogue (one of my strengths, I think!) and a fun premise, I only got about 4000 words in. I was already running behind when my mom, who’d been in a nursing home since a stroke in spring of 2007, died on November 5. Even though not unexpected, her passing completely derailed my brain, not only for the month of November, but for several months afterward. I can’t even find a record of the title of that aborted story!
And so the years marched on, and my annual word count and stories written and published ramped up. I didn’t “need” the push of NaNo when I was often writing 40,000 words per month! And I definitely didn’t need the distraction of all the lovely forums and discussions, etc.
I didn’t plan to do NaNo this year, either. But in September, my WIP (work in progress) shifted to Treasure in Clay, something not previously on the radar (more about that another time). But this story represented the FOURTH series I’d worked on in 2016 — Urban Farm Fresh Romances, Christmas in Montana Romances, The Secret Project, and now Eureka Springs.
Shifting gears did not come easily. I’d planned to write the second Secret Project story and Memories of Mist (UFFR 3) this fall. Instead, as September gave way to October and October gave way to the impromptu road trip I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, I began to seriously doubt I’d get two more books written in 2016. I was still bogged down in Treasure. It needed to be “somewhere” in December, so I kept plodding along.
On November second, I thought, “Wait one cotton-picking minute!” I had so much writing left to do in 2016 that it looked like my schedule for 2017 would be in jeopardy if I didn’t get moving. And so I decided to do an unofficial NaNo. I signed up on the site with my Secret Project 2 novel, and started working on BOTH of them! Getting to write on Secret Project 2 became my reward for getting the day’s word count in on Treasure in Clay. Then I began leap-frogging projects, working on one for a day or two, then the other, until finally last weekend, the last few chapters for Treasure clicked into place in my mind. I finished the first draft on Wednesday, and now I am flying on Secret Project 2.
Although technically the NaNo project is supposed to be 50,000 words in one story that hadn’t been begun until November first, my main goal is to produce the first drafts that need to be written. I’ll claim my winner’s badge if I clear 50,000 words in November, even if they’re unofficial because they’re a blend of two projects. I’m ahead of the curve, though. Maybe I can get that many words written in Secret Project 2 yet this month!
Either way, I’m a much happier camper now that I am not SO FAR behind. Writing on two projects at once isn’t anything I’ve ever attempted before, but I’m thankful it helped get me rolling again this fall.
Here’s to a clean slate for 2017! Memories of Mist is on the calendar again early in the new year. The fate of Treasure in Clay remains to be seen.