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What Happens Next (An IWSG Post)

It’s the first Wednesday of the month, which means it’s time for another action-packed installment of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, y’all!

If you’re reading this, I do assume that you’re already familiar with the IWSG, but if you’re new and/or interested in more information and/or a complete list of participants, please click on the above link.

This month’s awesome co-hosts are Jemi Fraser, Kim Lajevardi, L.G. Keltner, Tyrean Martinson, and Rachna Chhabria!

This month’s (optional) question is…

Albert Camus once said, “The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.” Flannery O’Conner said, “I write to discover what I know.” Authors across time and distance have had many reasons to write. Why do you write what you write?

I’m going to attempt to answer this question, but me being me, I’m probably going to attempt it in some weird, roundabout way that may or may not actually answer the question. And me being me four days into November, and those four days being in November 2020, this weird, roundabout way may end up being even weirder and more roundabout than usual (And may or may not involve more vodka…) If you choose to keep reading, I hope that (wherever this ramble ends up), you enjoy the ride.

So, it’s been mentioned a few million times on various social media sites, I know, but in case you maybe missed it, I am participating in NaNoWriMo this month. It’s the ninth time I’ve participated in the November event. Thus far, I have six wins and two losses under my belt, but win or lose, I love the challenge. Which is why I pretty much sign up for every session I possibly can.

My first NaNoWriMo experience was back in 2009, when I wrote the first draft of what would eventually come to be known as the Terrible Romance Novel. When November 1st came around, I didn’t have a plan in place. I didn’t have character charts or a storyboard or a scene list or anything. I just thought, “Hey, I wonder if I can write a romance novel” and set out to see what would happen. (And with a name like ‘Terrible Romance Novel’ you can probably guess what happened…)

On November 2nd of that year, I sat in front of my computer, looking at the monitor and thinking, “WHAT THE HELL DID I GET MYSELF INTO?” because I was working without a safety net, or a parachute, or any sort of metaphorical rock-climbing gear designed to keep me from plunging into the rocky gorge of failure or whatever (Seriously, y’all. Day Four + Insomnia + 2020 + Vodka + Well, you know = rocky gorge of failure or whatever).

I got through those thirty days by just constantly asking myself, “What happens next?” And when I had no what what (what what? Thanks, brain.) happened next, I asked myself, “Okay, what could happen next?” Because I didn’t know and there was only one way I would find out.

By writing it. (I knew I made a mistake not being clairvoyant or whatever. My brain is so good at the words-putting-into-sentence-doing thingy thing.)

This November, I am working on the Terrible Romance Sequel (I’m sooooo good at naming books, I know). I am currently crushing the word count (as of the moment I wrote this sentence, I am sitting at a whopping 14,006 words) and—even stranger still—I am enjoying the hell out of discovering this story.

Sure, the plot is…extremely problematic (to put it mildly) and I seem to have made it pretty damn impossible for my main characters to have any sort of romance (the Terrible Romance series is aptly named), and my daily word counts are dwindling drastically because of the aforementioned problematic plot and romanceless romance, and I will very likely not write another word the entire damn month AND have to throw out the whole damn thing on December 1st and start all over again.

And I’ll do it. Maybe not right away, but I’ll do it. Because I want to know what will happen.

I don’t know if anyone else wants to know what will happen (and I don’t see why they would) but that’s cool. I want to know, and that’s enough.

So yeah…I don’t have lofty aspirations when I write. I write what I write because I have an idea and I honestly just want see how it’ll turn out.

If it’ll turn out.

It may not.

But, you know, I won’t know until I try. (Once again, I say SUCK IT, YODA.)

So, for now…You know what? I honestly have no idea if I answered the question or not, or got even close to an answer. But my brain is completely fried at this particular moment in time, and I am done in every way possible. So instead of me trying to make this post work, please enjoy this adorable photo of my adorable little Snoop Dogg practicing his favorite yoga pose—downward sleeping dog.

On that note, I’m outta here. Thanks for stopping by, all. I’ll try to do better the next time…

Stay safe and well.

NaNoWriMoRama

It’s goal post day on the blog. I know it’s hard to contain your excitement over that, but we’re going to have to find a way to keep calm and carry on.

First up, let’s see how I did with October’s goals (spoiler alert: not great…)

OCTOBER GOALS

—Complete first draft of Full Circle

Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha.

Yeah. I didn’t do this. I’m pretty much in the exact same spot I was in at the beginning of October. Can’t quite find the right hook for the start of Act III. I keep writing the same scene from different POVs to see if that’s the problem, and it keeps not feeling like the solution, so I think the plot itself isn’t right. Which sucks because I don’t have a Plan B. Or whatever letter this draft happens to be on now. Zeta, probably.

—Read a book

I did this. Technically, I read five books. Sure, they were, like, thirty-page-long graphic novels, but it still counts.

—Walk at least three miles every day

While I didn’t hit three miles every day, I still managed to walk nearly 122 miles, which averages out to almost four miles each day. That’s what we call good enough, kids.

NOVEMBER GOALS

—Win NaNoWriMo 2020

I’m working on the Terrible Romance Sequel this month. As previously stated, I have a concept for this story and not much else, so I have no idea how this month will go. It’s Day Two, and I’m well ahead for the moment, but…yeah. I have a feeling I shall soon be running into a very large and high brick wall that will probably be surrounded by a moat filled with alligators and zombies and zombie alligators and things of that nature.

But I shall enjoy the creative flow while it lasts. I really hope I can make this story work because I’m really kind of loving it right now.

Which probably means I just jinxed things horribly. That, or me actually liking something I’m writing is the final sign of the apocalypse.

Also, for reasons unknown, I also decided to make things more interesting/frustrating by using Scrivener. I heard through the grapevine that I might decide I like it hate it less if I start a brand-new project with it rather than trying to transition in the middle of a current WIP.

We’ll see how it goes. Or for long that whole Scrivener thing lasts (it’s already made it to Day Two, which is about two days longer than I thought it would last…). But the ultimate goal here, of course, is to hit that 50k mark.

If you’re also participating in NaNoWriMo and are looking for some buddies, feel free to add me. My user name is M.J. Fifield (clever, right?).

—Walk at least three miles a day

It is always good to avoid becoming part of one’s couch. Or so I’m told. Fortunately, the fur babies make this goal pretty easy. They like to walk. A lot. So we walk. A lot.

And on that note, I’m outta here. I’ll try to do better the next time.

Stay safe and well, everyone.

Preptober

Today, I’ll be talking about my goals for the month. It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these posts (I just checked. My last one was way back in May.) so while this post would normally begin with a review of the previous month’s goals, this time we’re going to jump right into the main event.

October Goals

Complete first draft of Full Circle

Full Circle is the third book in my fantasy series. Back in January, I said I wanted to complete the first draft by the end of the year. I’m hoping to cross it off the list this month, but to be completely honest…I don’t think that’ll happen. I just don’t think I’m getting enough done every day. It was going all right for a while, but I seem to have hit a lull. I’m still going to try, though. Maybe I’ll surprise myself. I was thinking of treating it almost like an October edition of NaNoWriMo, but we’ll see what happens. I just may take a 31-day nap instead. Or, a 26-day nap, rather, as it’s like October 5th or something like that.

—Prep for NaNoWriMo

That’s right. I have, once again, signed up for the November event. I’m planning to work on the Terrible Romance Sequel and hope to develop a little bit of a scene list ahead of time, but I don’t know if that’ll happen. A scene list would imply that I have some sort of idea for this story and what might happen in it, and I don’t…really have that. I have a concept—which is certainly no small thing. I just have no idea how or even if I can actually write it.

But the story itself is only half of my NaNo prep this year because this year, I am the Municipal Liaison for my county. And I am the only ML for my county. Which is totally fine and certainly what I thought would happen when I applied for the position.

Anyway, part of my job is to schedule and host events for other Wrimos in the area. This year, because of a certain global pandemic, all official events will be virtual. This month, I need to work out what that will look like for my area.

—Read a book

I hate that my reading goal is so…pathetic. But what I hate more is knowing that even though this goal is so pathetic and tiny, I still may not accomplish it.

—Walk at least three miles every day

As always, I’m just trying to do something healthy, as I generally fail in the area in every other aspect of my life.

And on that note, I’m outta here. I have a lot to do and no time to do it in. Tune in Wednesday when I take part in the October edition of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. Unless I opt for that 31-day 26-day nap and forget. Which, let’s face it, would be such a me thing to do.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Hope you’re all safe and well.

So…This Happened.

In November 2009, I set upon a two-pronged experiment: write a 50,000-word romance novel during NaNoWriMo. It was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo as well as my first attempt at a romance novel.

I started off with nothing more than the genre. I just wanted to see if I could do it and what a romance novel written by someone who traditionally didn’t write, you know, happy characters or endings would look like.

At the end of the month, I didn’t have an answer. I stuck the project in a metaphorical drawer where it remained until July 2017, when I pulled it back out in an attempt to finish it.

It soon became known as the Terrible, Horrible, No-Good, Bad Romance Novel because, according to my CPs, I had completely missed the mark on that whole ‘romance’ aspect of the romance novel. As one CP said, “I don’t want these two characters to spend any more time together.”

Clearly, I had my work cut out for me.

And because I am the slowest writer on the face of the earth, it took a while to figure things out. The urge to shove the damn thing back into the metaphorical drawer was strong. Just so, so strong.

Fast forward to January 2019, when my beloved goddaughter expressed a desire to read this book. I love my godchildren and would do anything for them…even finish and publish a terrible romance novel.

Which (deep breath) I did.

Last month.

See, I set a goal to publish it in time for my beloved goddaughter’s birthday. I wanted it to be a surprise, so I didn’t announce it. Against all odds, I actually achieved this goal ( I know. I still can’t believe it, either).

And because I am a marketing guru, even after the birthday surprise, I didn’t announce the book. (I have issues. I know.)

But this past weekend, it was revealed (not by me because, again, I have issues) that the Terrible Romance Novel (at some point, I should probably start referring to it by its actual name) had been set loose upon the world.

Which, yes, is technically true, if you want to get all technical about it.

The Terrible Romance Novel is the product of years of neglect and massive rewrites. It somehow managed to survive having me as its author and because of that, it is now available for Kindle and in paperback.

My goddaughter loved it, and should anyone out there choose to read it, I hope you enjoy it, too.

Oh, and because my goddaughter wants to read it, I’m scheduled to start the second book in the Terrible Romance Series on November 1st.

One last thing…

Back in March 2019, I ran a contest. You may not remember it because it was back in 2019, and we’ve all had MUCH larger concerns since then, but it was a contest to guess how many pens and highlighters I would go through in the Terrible Romance Novel’s revision process. (Thank you to everyone who entered!)

There were three people who guessed exactly right (two pens, two highlighters). Their names were put into a metaphorical hat, and the winner was…

JE Oneil

Thanks again to everyone who entered. Maybe I’ll do another contest whenever I have another manuscript ready for revisions. So…like, ten, twenty years from now, maybe?

Insert Goals Here

Well, against all odds, it seems, we have made it to May. I’m not sure I had actually planned on making it this far into this year because I’m having a hard time figuring out my goals for the month.

But I’m going to start with a recap of last month’s goals. Maybe I’ll figure something out along the way…

April Goals

Win Camp NaNoWriMo

As you may have seen on various social media platforms, or even the shiny new badge over there on the right, I did do this. The goal had been set for 30,000 words (the Camp sessions allow you to set your own word count goal) and while I didn’t always meet the daily word count goal (1000 words/day), I crossed the finish line a few days early with a final tally of 32,358 words.

Apply revisions to the Terrible Romance Novel

I think I only get partial credit here. I completed the bulk of the changes I wanted to make, but I have a couple of pages of leftover edits (you know, pretty much anything that required more than thirty seconds of concentration to fix…) and my punch list of overused words and phrases still to go.

Prep for and run video conferencing thingamajig for local writers group

I did this. Perhaps not particularly well, but I did it. It seemed to go all right. I mean, I was my usual awkward self, but absolutely NOTHING will change that.

Log at least 100 miles

I did this. I didn’t think it would be a problem, as I’ve been walking even more than usual. I walked 111 miles this month.

Read a book

I did this. Sure, it was a 200-paged book that was probably 80% short lines of dialogue, and sure, it took me until last two days of the month to even open it, but I did this. I read a book. I even read two books. How very sad that this is such an achievement for me.

May Goals

All right. What am I going to do this month? Let’s see…Okay, so I always start with a writing goal. So let’s try that.

Finish the revisions for the Terrible Romance Novel

It’s kind of feeling like it’s now or never with this project, so I guess I’m going to try and make it now. I really don’t want to disappoint my goddaughter.

Read more books

The two books I mentioned reading earlier were the first two books in Robert B. Parker’s Spenser series. It’s a series about a Boston-based private detective that I first discovered back in high school. It’s been a while since I’ve read this series all the way through, so I have decided to try to jumpstart my reading habit with the Great Spenser Re-Reading Project. In theory, what I am going to do is reread the entire series from the beginning and each Friday, I will post which books I’ve read and a little about what I thought of them.

Walk at least 100 miles

Just want to stay active. Or as active as I get.

And, I think, on that note that I’m done.

Sorry, y’all, but I am seriously lacking in enthusiasm these days.

Hope everyone is doing all right out there. Be safe, and take care.