Today is November 1st. More importantly, today is the first day of NaNoWriMo. If you don’t know what that is, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an international online challenge to write a fifty-thousand-word novel during the thirty days of November. This year marks NaNo’s twentieth anniversary.
This is officially my seventh, but actually, it is my eighth. The first time I participated was under a different pen name. How many have I won? Just two. The first time was 2013 when I wrote 66,265 words of Priestesses of the Goddess. It still is not finished. I have at least another fifteen thousand to thirty thousand just to finish the first book. So, yes, I ‘won’ but I did not finish the book.
In 2017, I wrote non-fiction, RadiCool Unschooling Your Neurodivergent Little Human. I wrote 50,909 words during that one. I should go through my files and polish that one up. There still is not a book available on the advantages of self-directed learning/unschooling for the neurodivergent or #ActuallyAutistic.
But what is more memorable for me are the NaNo’s I didn’t win.
My first NaNo was 2009 or 2010. I cannot be sure which as that is the one when I wrote under a different pen name. I am not even sure what that nom de plume was, though I have a couple of guesses. I had been writing erotica for several months. Though that is probably being generous; it was more like porn. My older daughter, who is also a writer, told me about NaNo.
Of course, in my warped mind erotica/porn was not good enough. I wanted to do something more highbrow. One of the most challenging books I have ever read is Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. It is about a woman’s struggle to find herself in a failing marriage. I had read it in college when my first marriage was failing. Now, over a decade later, my second one was as well. I thought to bring the salient issues of feminism and marriage into the twenty-first century with a modern take on the subject called The Re-Awakening.
It got over a week and about twelve thousand words into it when the screen on my laptop got broken. All my work that was saved on that laptop was gone. I never could recover those files.
My marriage failed. And my writing became my solace. I had Emily, my part-time job as a chef with the old people’s bingo club and mental health day center, and I had writing. I was starting over, so of course, I needed a new pen name. This one.
My first NaNo was officially 2011. My project was Sergeant Mike’s Miracle Tour. I wrote over twenty-seven thousand words in what was to become Shared Burdens. Then once again, something happened to my laptop. It was gone. Again, I was certain that NaNo was a curse for me. So much so it seems that I did not participate in 2012.
In 2013, I tackled Priestesses of the Goddess. This time I was NOT losing my work again. It was still before the day of cloud storage, or at least for me. So, I decided that I would post my work each day to Literotica. Then, even if something did happen to the computer, as I am sure it did eventually, I would always have the files. I saved to the laptop. I think I used a USB. I posted to Literotica…and another naughty site. The curse was not going to get me again. I won, officially. Even if I did not finish the story. Yet. It restored my confidence.
The next three years were less successful. Nonetheless, I wrote over one-hundred-thousand words in 2014, 2015, and 2016. I came incredibly close in 2016 with 41,127 words. But that was my first year with Alan. We were in the middle of the mess with buying @HomeCrazzyHome. Perhaps I could have stayed up those last couple of days, pushed through, and made it. But sometimes real life is more important.
As I said, 2017 was my other win. I did not attempt it last year. Though I did participate in NaNo’s little sister, CampNaNo in April. I won that one. It is different in that you can set your own goals, lower or higher than fifty-thousand words. And editing counts too. I almost always blow those away. Last year was the middle of my dry-spell, my writer’s block. I did not even attempt it.
So, what are my goals for #NaNoWriMo2019? What is this year’s project?
As a pantser, it is not that simple for me. What is a pantser, you ask? A pantser is a writer who does not plan, outline, or storyboard her writing. She simply sits down at her computer, typewriter, or blank page and writes whatever comes out. It has not always been easy for me to accept that this is my writing style. The struggle to embrace that was been long and hard-fought. But I finally have.
So, my project is officially titled Whatever. As in, whatever comes out of my warped, sick mind. I have three blogs, Ægirs, and close to half a dozen other projects that I am working on at the moment. The challenge for me is to restore my writing mojo. As I once restored my sexual mojo.
I have participated in both CampNaNo’s this year. Blowing them away in fact. In April, I edited and wrote over one-thousand words. In July, I surpassed that with over two-hundred and fifty thousand. But both of those numbers are deceptive. Most of those words were editing old things. Returning to old glories to ignite new passions. I have edited almost everything I have ever written, except for The Arrangement.
After July’s success, I decided that I needed more accountability. NaNo was brilliant. Watching your numbers climb closer and closer to that goal. But even participating in all of the events that still leaves nine months of the year unaccounted for. What then?
I created an Excel spreadsheet. I now log my daily totals for new words written and edits, along with notes on how the day went. That may seem like a lot of structure for a pantser. But the thing is, my writing is the one part of my life that is not structured.
I have weekly menus posted on a bulletin board in the kitchen. I have a four-inch binder with annual, monthly, and weekly goals as well as a single sheet of notebook paper for every day of the year with a massive to-do list on each page. Only in my creative projects – writing, photography, and quilting – do I allow myself such freedom of expression.
The past couple of weeks as ‘plotters’ (those writers who do plot, outline, and storyboard) were #preptober, I was preparing for today in a different way. I was cleaning and especially cooking. In the past few days, I have cooked…
- Spaghetti Bolognese – 6 containers
- Quorn Chilli – 4 containers
- Fish Pie – 3
- Chicken Pot Pie – 2
- King Henry Venison Stew – 2
- Cottage Pie – 3
- Lasagna – 3
- Cannelloni – 3
- Pasta Bake – 6
- Beef Stroganoff – 4
My deep freeze is full almost to the brim. Alan joked that I could not kill anyone this month as there was no room in the freezer for a body. I promise it was a joke…though if I people too much it does not feel like one. We will be living off ready-meals, albeit homemade ones for the whole month of NaNo, except, of course, for Thanksgiving.
Like I said, this NaNo is important to me. It is about establishing a good writing routine. About rediscovering my writer’s mojo. It is a path that I have been on since that first CampNaNo in the spring. But after July, I feel that I am closer than I ever have been.
I have discovered what my goals are as a writer. I have laid aside the author mask, not focusing upon sales, money, or making some list somewhere. Nor even great reviews or contests. Writing is in the words of Rainer Maria Rilke (Letters to a Young Poet)…
I write because there are stories inside me waiting to come out. I write because I have a message for this world…
Love is the only thing that makes it worth living.
Great sex is the best way to show that love to the right person/people.
And my latest…Nothing Done In Love can ever be wrong.
So, what are my goals?
To win. That is not something I say often. Winning is not usually so important to me. But it has been close to four years since I had a truly remarkable writing streak. I am tired of editing and reliving old glories. I want or need, to get these new stories out of my head.
I need to reestablish a writing routine. I am getting close. While the guinea pigs may have taken over my lovely study, I have made a space for myself on the reclining sofa in the formal junk room. My laptop and organizer live on what will one day become the formal dining table. I am getting pretty good at making the #5amwritersclub too. Heck, last month, I even wrote 41,135 NEW words. So close that fifty-thousand. I would have certainly made it if I had not gotten ill last week.
But this is a new month, a special month, #NaNoWriMo2019. I want desperately to cross that finish line a victory this time.
The thing is…I don’t want it badly enough to sacrifice the other things in my life. PanKwake, Alan, our friends, @HomeCrazzyHome, or even my other creative outlets such as quilting and photography.
While we might think of Dr. Seuss as a children’s writer, the man was also a forward-thinking environmentalist and philosopher. Perhaps my favorite book is Oh, The Places You’ll Go. These words have always spoken loudly to my soul…
“So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life’s A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed) Kid, you’ll move mountains.”
So, will I succeed? Will I finally be able to crack that nut and write fifty-thousand NEW words in the month of November? Will 2019 be my third #NaNoWriMo win?
We shall have to wait and see, but according to Dr. Seuss, a writer/philosopher that I admire… it is 98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed.
Oh, and yes, finishing Ægir’s is a secondary goal for this NaNo. Now, let me get off here…and write. Oh, wait, that is what I have been doing. Goddess bless…