Let me tell you about my NaNoWriMo. We’ll start at the beginning, well, before the beginning. The prologue if you will.
October hit with all the excitement and cheer of the NaNo season. Time to plot and get pumped up for a month of too much coffee consumption and mad writing. So, with anticipation, sometime during the beginning of October I sat down and began my usual chapter by chapter outline for my NaNo novel. This particular NaNo I’ve been waiting for since my first one basically. Because this NaNo was going to take all the previous books, which had separate characters on different adventures, and throw them all together. It was surreal to me that I had actually made it this far with this humongous series I started in 2010. Naturally, I was quite ecstatic about it.
Once outlining started, my excitement doused a little as I realized how utterly overwhelming this book would be. So far, each book only followed two main characters and a single adventure. But this one would follow ALL the characters with a dozen different side plots and things. How was I going to manage this?
“A chapter at a time,” I told myself. So I forced myself to do it, took a few walks in the midst of October when I got stuck with the outline, and finally, near the end of the month, had a full outline set in place. I was a bit worried though. This story was meant to have a bunch of character reunions and fun things, but all the characters kept deciding to go off in different directions and just so much was happening. But no matter. This was a first draft and I’d write it and see how it went.
The main fear I had was the length. Usually I keep my outlines to 30 chapters and hope the book stays to that. But this outline was 36 chapters. I braced myself for a long book, knowing ahead of time I’d most likely have to continue writing during December even though I really, really wanted to finish it by November. With so much going on and extra chapters than usual, it was probably going to be one of the more lengthy ones. But no matter, NaNo approached. I was ready and utterly excited for my favorite time of the year. Bring on the NaNo!
Finally, on the night of October 31st, midnight hit. . .
“Ladies and gentlemen, let the 2015 NaNoWriMo begin!”
The first few days were magical and wonderful and I got many, many words in. “This NaNo is going to be great!” I thought to myself, so happy, on such a writing high. Hopeful for the future. “I’ve totally got this.”
By about halfway through the first week, life started to get a bit busy and cut into some writing time. “No matter, I have the whole month ahead of me. What are a few busy days? I’ll just write even more next week.” Ah, such an optimistic Christine.
My words were going up well enough, but we have to remember this crazy, overachiever that obviously has no value in sleep or sanity decided on a double NaNo. 100k instead of 50k. Because why not? I had managed it all the years before all right, even though my life was so much quieter then. I mean, this would be the first year I actually had a job. Bah! It’ll be fine. I’d find a way to work around it. Plus, all my books were usually 100k or longer and I wanted to finish this one quickly, so it needed to be done.
But then week two happened. Oh, week two. . . That time I told myself I would write even more words. Stay on top of things. Ahead even.
Hahaha. Haha. . .hahahaha. . .ha.
Can I even describe week two? Not really. It resulted in some health issues in the family, spending the night away from home for most of the week, work, getting my car stuck on these steps on a horrible uphill driveway, and only four to five hours of sleep every night. Did writing happen? I tried. I tried so hard. And I did manage in a few words each day. But amidst the stress, exhaustion, and all around distractedness of a busy life, my motivation took a downward spiraled plummet to some dark, dusty corner of my brain. My sarcasm had an enjoyable time that week as I often told my family, “This NaNo sure is going well.”
Looking back at my other NaNos, I had so many more words during them at this point. The thought was a discouraging one. It was after this week that my late night competing with myself post came to being.
I was determined though. Even if it killed me (which it was trying to do really, really hard), I was going to survive this NaNo and win.
That weekend, things looked up again. I was home and finally had free time. I burrowed in my writing cave and poured my entire being into my book. Suddenly, with free time and quiet days and not intense amount of stress bogging me down, writing was fun again. Once I emerged from the cave, I felt good about NaNo once more and had crossed to that oh so exciting 50k mark.
Fantastic. Buuut, you still have another 50k to go, Christine.
“Okay, you can do this.” (I talk to myself a lot, if you haven’t guessed. Give myself pep talks and motivation. That’s not weird is it. . .?)
Pass 50k and onward.
The third week was so much calmer than the complete, ridiculous insanity of the second. The words were really coming in again, quick and smooth. Almost. . .too quick. Never in my life had I written chapters so fast. I was counting down those chapters day after day, getting nearer and nearer to that 36 that would mark the final one.
By the time I had 30 chapters all wrapped up, I just kind of sat in astonishment. Only 6 chapters left? Could this be true? A faint glimmer of hope that I might actually finish this thing during November flickered in my mind. But surely not. NaNo was only halfway over. Besides, these last chapters were pretty in depth, they’d probably be longer. I still had a ways to go.
With this decided, I dismissed the hope and trekked on.
“Huh, that chapter went by fast.” “Look at that, I’m already finished with this one, too.” “Oh! That one is done?” “Wait. . .I only have three chapters left? Really. . .?”
When week three neared its end, that hope made an appearance again, and this time I didn’t entirely shoo it off. Could I, was I, going to really do this? But I wasn’t even anywhere near 100k. How could this book with so many characters and plots and more chapters than the rest be ending so much sooner? Was this even real?
By the end of Sunday, November 22nd, I stared at my manuscript. My manuscript that had only two chapters left. By Monday afternoon, only one.
Monday night, November 23rd 2015, at 11:00 p.m., I wrote the last sentence of More Black than Night and finished the 6th book of my Colors of a Dragon Scale series. With 36 chapters and 76,700 words exactly.
I literally just kind of sat there in shock. It didn’t feel real. This book that I had known since October I’d probably still be writing in December. This book that had SO much going on and would be a monster, most likely well over 100k. This book that I had no time to even write in during November. Done. Finished. The End.
To sum it up. . .
I FINISHED MY NANO NOVEL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
If you can’t tell, I’m really, really, really, reeeeaaaalllllyyyy excited. For multiple reason. First of all, finishing writing a novel is one of the most satisfying, rewarding, best feelings in the world. Second, I only have ONE more book to write in this series I’ve been working on for 6 consecutive years. JUST ONE. Thirdly, this NaNo took a lot out of me. I don’t regret it a single, tiny bit. I adore NaNo and it made me find time to write even when I didn’t have time, which is such an important skill for a writer. But knowing I’m finished and can finally breathe (and sleep) again is a huuuge relief.
But one of the biggest things that excites me is that this is my shortest novel I’ve ever written. Yeah, a nearly 78k is my shortest. Sad, I know. But I thought it was going to be huge. I didn’t even know if I’d make it to the end. And instead it was my shortest novel. This excites me because I think I’m finally learning how to pace novels. Pacing is one of my biggest writing weaknesses. Usually I dwell on scenes for far too long. But this time, I just kept it moving forward, and that’s why I was able to finish it so quickly. That was basically my mantra for the month. “Keep moving forward, keep moving forward.” I knew if I wanted to finish, I couldn’t linger on scenes for pages on end. I just had to follow the outline and keep it moving at all times. As a result, I wrote my shortest novel. I mean, I may look back at it and realize the pacing is crazy fast and needs to be slowed down. I could have instead broken my pacing problem in the other direction. Sounds like something I would do. But who knows, maybe by the next book I’ll have figured out how to keep it in that nice place between too fast and too slow.
It’s always a learning experience, NaNo. Every book, really.
The real question here is, do I like my book? I do, though I have a few misgivings. With the stress of the month, I didn’t give it as much of my attention as usual. Life was its rude self and distracted me from really pouring myself into it. So it’s definitely a rough draft. I also think I outlined it too fast. Again, Life. >.> After a while I realized I should have done things differently. It’s not quite as big and epic story-wise as I had hoped, and I only left myself even more to wrap up in the final book instead of tying up some loose ends like I meant to so I could focus on the main main plot for the last one. BUT this series is really just an exploration. By the time I rewrite it, it’ll be so different all these books will hardly matter. Except they’re still a key element. Because I’ve learned so much about the world and characters and overall plot. There have been so many surprises along the way. I’ve discovered what I like and don’t like. I know now better how to handle certain elements. These drafts are disastrous and horrifying with inconsistencies and plot holes the size of the Titanic all over the place, but because of them I’ll one day hopefully be able to write a series worth reading. I will never regret taking the time to write these first drafts.
So did I enjoy my 6th NaNoWriMo? Absolutely. It was the most stressful, sleep deprived, ridiculous NaNo I’ve ever experienced. And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
One more book to go, guys. ONE MORE. The next NaNo is going to be amazing. But good grief! Why would I even be thinking about next year’s NaNo already? O_O Getting a bit ahead of myself. . .
If you’ll excuse me I’ll be sleeping and taking a long break from writing until at least January.
Okay, now that I’ve apparently written a whole other NaNo’s worth of a post here wordcount-wise, I want to hear from you! How is your NaNo going? Any surprises along the way? The end is LESS than a week away, you epic NaNo’ers you. ALMOST THEEERE!!! *screams and cheers and waves pompoms* Everybody is doing so amazing. KEEP GOING! Also a very happy (early) Thanksgiving to all my fellow American peeps. <3 Hope everyone’s week is a blessed one!