Tag Archives: nanowrimo

bravery and joy

Another year has come and gone, and what a challenging year it’s been. 2015’s story was full of hardship, for so many loved ones as well as for me; full of derailments and heartbreak and doubts. There were moments where I felt a bit like Bilbo and the dwarves standing in the midst of Mirkwood, just this side of despair, thinking, “There is no end to these dark woods!”

But there’s a light outside every forest, and looking back, I think this quote by Douglas Adam best sums up 2015:9f500cf76fb8c64662fe00fcbe8ebd11
Even if real life did occasionally take the heart out of my quest to make 2015 the Big Writing Year, a few awesome things did happen. I read through the entirety of my Dragon Novel draft and fell in love all over again. (I cannot WAIT to dive into revision this year.) I participated in several pitch contests, and while none of them amounted to anything serious, I got some valuable feedback and made great friends in the Twitter writing community. I finished the third draft of my YA Project Warhorse novel. And then a fourth. And there might be a fifth in the works? In related news, I’ve admitted that I really love editing. I sent my first query letter. (And got my first rejections! Woohoo!) I also learned how to take an adequate query and make it sing. I finished a final edit on a middle grade project. I’m also co-writing a children’s book. (Both involve ponies, but not the supernatural kind!) I won NaNoWriMo for the eight consecutive year, with an idea that didn’t arrive until October. As you might expect, the NaNo novel is an incoherent mess, but there’s an interesting story in there, sort of a GRACELING meets SIX OF CROWS. I’ll come back to this one. I read a lot of books, and discovered some new favorites.

Going forward, I think my goals for 2016 can be expressed in a single sentence:

Practice bravery.

It is not always easy, in the dark, at the end of a long and tiring day, to push yourself out of your comfort zone. I know that I’ve hovered on the verge of some creative and professional goals simply because I was afraid. I’ve found myself asking, “What if no one loves this unmarketable book but me?”, coming up with backup plans for my backup plans. This year I want to take chances. Fail spectacularly. Get back up and keep on trying.

I want to write what I love, and keep faith that someday, the right person will love it, too.

“So that is my wish for you, and for me. Bravery and joy.” ~ Neil Gaiman

into the woods


November of 2008 changed my life.

I appreciated National Novel Writing Month from afar for several years before I took the plunge. It’s a great idea, I thought, but I really don’t have time to write 50,000 words right now. Maybe next year. Those next years piled up, like the stacks of unfinished manuscripts, and then in the final days of that fateful October, I spontaneously signed up. I had never written more than 15,000 words on a project before, and I had ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA what I was going to write, but it felt urgently necessary to do it now.

Winning NaNoWriMo changed my life again. It wasn’t pretty. Neither was I, by the time Nov 30 rolled around, having been transformed to a sleep-deprived creature, eyes glazed, hunched over from hours at a desktop keyboard, dressed in a suspicious combination of mismatched clothing scrounged from the last of the clean laundry. My story, the second of my vague trilogy, was a disjointed, cliched mess. The plot was unrecognizable. A secondary character had hijacked the story and my main character was one-dimensional and boring. I swore I would never write trilogies/fantasy/novels again.

But I knew, as I typed the 50,000th word, that I was not the same writer that I had been when I so naively began on Nov 1. Okay, not even the same person.

I kind of loved the new writer-me.

That’s why I keep coming back to NaNo, year after year, even though I’m past the point where I need it to get a novel drafted. The pace is insane and the mental breakdowns are inevitable, but I relish the annual reminder of what I really am capable of when I get a little gritty and determined. I love the surprises that spring out of a speed-written draft; although the words inevitably get rewritten, most of the ideas born in November are worth hanging onto. Also, the community is great.

Camp NaNoWriMo, held in April and July, is a bit of a new thing for me. These are some of the busiest months in a riding instructor’s life, but the word count goal is flexible, so last year I gave it a try and wrote a combined 40k towards Dragon Novel. Apparently, I am motivated by bar graphs.

So it’s back into the drafting woods I go, armed with Plot Hole Repellant and ready to roast some excuses over the fire. I’m using Camp NaNo’s “All projects welcome” policy to make some progress on a work-related writing project… but I have a secondary goal of getting a finished draft of my MG book done, and sketching a few scenes for a strange new YA project that’s been teasing at my brain. Now if only I could figure out how to actually do all of this in a tent!