Posts Tagged National Novel Writing Month

Writing buddies on NaNoWriMo

2013-Participant-Square-ButtonOne of the fun things about NaNoWriMo, aka (Inter)National Novel Writing Month, which happens in November every year, is the opportunity to connect with other writers. There are all kinds of forums on the NaNoWriMo site, twitter connections and a blog. We had some write-ins here in Bend, where I had the opportunity to meet other writers and sit with our computers, writing and occasionally exchanging comments about our progress.

I can’t begin to say how warm and fuzzy that made the writing experience. It’s somehow a great help to know you’re not alone. I loved encouraging others and receiving, in turn, their cheers for every word I wrote (no matter how awful).

The part I liked the best was setting up writing buddies. I had a mix, from a couple of women I met at write-ins, to others I’ve met online. They live all over the world. So today I thought that I’d post links to as many as I can, just to say ‘congratulations’ to them, and thanks for following along on my journey.

First, and perhaps best, are two people I met through StoryCartel, Mirel and Alex. They were each wonderful about checking in from time to time, and sending me encouragement. Mirel lives in Israel, writes a blog about daily life, and wrote a nice blog about what she learned by doing NaNoWriMo this year: Stories Worth Sharing.

Alex Brantham, from the UK, tends to post tongue-in-cheek short fiction pieces on his blog, and he also wrote a blog about what he learned from the experience:

Plus there were others. Stacy, Kim, Sunny, The Magic Violinist (you won’t believe she’s 13 when you see her WEB site!), and M. C. Muhlenkamp from the U. S. all helped me feel supported along the way. Writing really is a lonely business.  Joy Bautista Collado, from the Philippines, has the best smile and attitude ever.

Finally, from here in Bend, Sage, who is in high school, Crystal, Matthew, and others whose names I may have forgotten.

Some made the 50K goal, some didn’t, but I believe we all got something valuable from the experience. Thanks to each and every one of them for walking the journey with me. I couldn’t have asked for better buddies. I hope you’ll stop by their WEB sites and say hello to them. We all need as much encouragement as we can get.

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Painting Class

For the past month – all of November – I participated in NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write 50,000 words in a single month. This challenge pretty well took up all of my time and energy, and now that it’s finished, and I have a very rough first draft of a novel, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with myself. I could have continued writing, but I really did need a break, not only to put paperwork and house in order, but to refill my creative well. I read a couple of novels, watched a couple of movies, and participated in a writing group via Skype, to which I provided the flash fiction piece below.  I noticed that one of my writing buddies, Alex Brantham, posted a nice little flash piece right after he finished NaNoWriMo, too. He’s a British guy, with a droll sense of humor. You can read his story here.

Now, here’s Painting Class. Please tell me what you think of it.

Painting Class

George was certain his wife was having an affair. She had a certain glow about her that spoke of only one thing: sex. And it certainly wasn’t sex with him. After fourteen years, their romantic life consisted of a quick kiss in the morning, another right before bed, and dutiful intercourse the last Friday of every month.

She’d been radiant ever since she’d taken that painting workshop in the summer, or had it been writing? She was always going to something; he couldn’t keep track. He was pretty sure she took the writing class last fall, then quilt-making during the spring, and finally painting, because she’d had paint in her hair half the summer. She must have hooked up with another painting student, but he hadn’t asked her about it, of course he hadn’t. What if she told the truth? Would that end their marriage?

Ελληνικά: Δελτία για αποδελτίωση και δελτιοθήκη

Ελληνικά: Δελτία για αποδελτίωση και δελτιοθήκη (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

And what if she lied? He didn’t want to see the quick shift of her eyes to the right the way they always did when she tried to pretend she hadn’t cheated on her diet, or spent too much money on shoes.

Instead, he snuck a look at her computer any time she left it on. He figured out her password and read her email. He peeked at her cell phone. Once he even called a number that appeared frequently, but it turned out to be her friend Caroline. He tried to listen in on her conversations, sure Caroline was acting as go-between, but never heard anything suspicious.

All of his spying turned up nothing. He’d never realized what a master she was at deceit.

Finally, he could stand it no more. He took a vacation day without telling her. He pretended to head to work, but instead went to the coffee shop. He waited, watching the first snow of the winter dust the trees, until he knew she had left for her job at the bank, then returned home and began searching the house. If she was cheating on him, he would surely find some trace of it.

He rifled her stack of purses and went through her pockets, but he didn’t find anything suspicious. As far as he could tell, she hadn’t bought any new clothes in a long time, at least none that he could find. Perhaps she kept them all at her lover’s home. He turned green at the thought of her in a sexy negligee, a gift from this unknown painter.

One more pass through the house, he thought, and he would give up. He started in their bedroom, checked the kitchen, and went into the room she used for all of her projects. Her easel sat in the corner, covered with dust. There was nothing in the sewing box, or hidden under her stash of old buttons. Then he turned and saw it: a shoe box tucked far back on the top of the bookshelf. He brought the step-stool, and carefully lifted it down.

Inside, packed tightly together, was a stack of index cards and miscellaneous bits of paper. His feeling of triumph was accompanied by a sinking sensation in his stomach. He hauled his find to his office.

For over an hour, he sat at his desk, unsure whether or not he dared read the love notes. But he had to, didn’t he? He owed himself that much. Finally, he poured himself a drink from the bottle of scotch he hid in his safe and rarely touched. After gulping half the glass, he returned to his desk with the bottle to carefully examine each slip. When he finished, he sat back, puzzled. Every single note was in his wife’s handwriting. He lined them up across his desk in the order he’d taken them out of the box and read them. The third one said: ack hubbie and Car for faith in me, lib for research. The rest formed a coherent thread.

He smacked his forehead. His wife was planning a novel! Was that why she seemed so happy? Could something creative, having nothing to do with sex, cause her skin to look ten years younger?

Carefully putting the box back together and returning it to its hiding place, he wasn’t sure if he was relieved or disappointed, but at least he knew one thing: this evening, he would ask her why she was so happy. Perhaps she would confess to the novel and his agony could end.

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15219 / 50000 words. 30% done!

For all you NaNoWriMo fanatics, here’s code for this bar, which I found thanks to a fellow writer who has a lovely blog at

I’m doing pretty well with this challenge. There has been some discussion on the internet about the purpose of writing so much so fast. Here’s what I had to say on the topic today, in a discussion about how to avoid getting hung up in edits:

If I stop and start editing, I lose the continuity of the story. That’s one of the great reasons to write a first draft fast. You can keep it all in your head, and you’re in a different mental space (your right brain) than when you edit. Tell yourself to stay with the thread. My mantra is “don’t look back, keep weaving the thread.” So what if my piano player used to do a solo jazz gig on Thursday and now he has a whole band playing with him, I can fix that later. So what if I forgot to have my main character say golly and gee whiz for half of what I’ve written, I’m going forward. SO what if I hate my sentence structure? That can get fixed once the whole story is in place. Scrivener is great that way; it makes it easy to add notes on the side to fix things, but other programs do, too.

If I spend a bunch of time fixing details in a chapter, then decide to chuck that chapter because it doesn’t fit the overall arc of the novel, I’ve just wasted a lot of time and energy.

Anyway, every time I feel the urge to go back and edit, I remember my mantra and move forward. Also, I have plot points already in my head which I’m nudging the story towards. I’ve never done that before, but, so far, it seems really helpful.

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2013-Participant-Square-ButtonNovember is National Novel Writing Month, wherein a lot of crazy people attempt to draft a novel in a single month. Or, rather, the goal is 50,000 words, which isn’t a long novel, but it’s a heck of a good start on one. This year there are over 180,000 people from all over the world signed up on the official WEB site.

I heard about this challenge last year, and thought it was a crazy idea. Who wants that kind of pressure in their life? That’s over a thousand words a day! Actually, it’s an average of 50,000/30, or holy molly, that’s a lot! I can do that once in a while, but to keep it going for a whole month is ridiculous. Right? But then I realized that I often draft 1300+ words for a Golden Threads chapter, and sometimes I write three of those in a single night, so I can do it, if I want to.

The big question for me was, why? And do I want to? Last year, I was immersed in redrafting, and couldn’t imagine putting aside the current project to beat myself to a pulp drafting something new. That was before I realized how much fun everyone seems to have doing this challenge, and also before I decided to strip a character out of Naked Lobster, and hated leaving her story behind, and a bunch of writers I met online declared their intention to do this challenge, all of which is a long-winded way of saying that I registered for this free event.

English: An hand writing "Cicciopippe&quo...

English: An hand writing “Cicciopippe” at the head of a white page. But… what!?! uhu! The hand is being drawn by another hand!!!! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the best things to come out of this registration, and the event hasn’t even started, is the discovery of a NaNoWriMo community right here in Central Oregon. I haven’t counted, but there are at least ten of us. We’re setting up events to get together and write. I’ve already met with two of them. Meeting other writers is a trip, especially when I discover that we share many of the same concerns. I’ve also teamed up to support and be supported by writers I met through the StoryCartel course.

You don’t really win anything for getting to 50,000 words, and it’s all on the honor system, but who cares? I’m looking forward to seeing what happens when I start writing on November first. I have done some background work, but I rather hope the story takes on a life of its own and flies. If it doesn’t, I hope that I won’t be too disappointed. I’m certain I will be a better writer by the end. Writing is one of those skills where the only way to truly improve is to do it (don’t worry, I have my trusty writing books on my desk already and another good thing about NaNoWriMo appears to be incredible support for writers give each other, with forums on everything from technique to background research to tips on staying healthy).

What about you? Are you a writer? Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? Leave a comment and let me know how it’s going.

Oh, and I managed to post another chapter of Golden Threads before the craziness starts. It’s here. When we left Laura and Matthew last, he was being approached by Zeke and his gang. Find out if they drive him out of the meeting.

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