So, it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) time again. NaNoWriMo is celebrated during the month of November. The concept is simple. Write 50k in a single month, on a single novel. Write the words? You won!
Over the years, I’ve done Nano on and off. I think I tried seven times and won twice. The Lost Art of Second Chances started out as my 2011 NaNoWriMo novel and I’d still like to revive my 2013 one someday.
I’m not participating this year, for the second year in a row. I’m still recovering from surgery for a start and can only sit at my desk for about two hours before needing to lay down with a heating pad. Also, right now, I’m writing the Cupid’s Coffeeshop series. They are novellas, each about 15k (I think). Also, now that I’ve established a writing habit and writing routine, 50k in a month isn’t really a challenge for me any more. It’s more like an average month.
I do love Nano though. I love the energy, enthusiasm, and optimism inherent in such a crazy, windmill-tilting goal. Developing a writing habit takes time and practice and Nano helped me with that.
For writers still struggling to set a writing habit or newbies who want to see what this writing lark is all about, National Novel Writing Month is a fantastic and fun thing to do. I believe everyone should try it at least once.
I’m just going to sit this year out. But, until then kids, have fun storming the castle!
The Lost Art of Second Chances is now in beta and should be coming to an e-reader near you in the next month. So, I thought I’d talk a little bit about that book, how it came to be, and share some research I did over the coming weeks here on the blog.
I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) on and off for probably the past decade. Nanowrimo is a writing challenge conducted every November. Participants attempt to write fifty thousand words in a month. Now, that’s basically routine for me but before, when I worked in the salt mines of my old day job (kidding, my former co-workers, just kidding), it was a major challenge.
Back in those days, I never pre-outlined or brainstormed a book. I just opened a blank page and started typing…only to stop about twenty thousand words in when I had no idea what I was doing. Nanowrimo 2011 was no different. I wanted to write a second chance at love story because it’s one of my favorite tropes. My uncle (and godfather) recently taught me to make summer sauce and so, I opened the story with the main character, Lucy, chatting away to her white cat as she made the sauce.
That scene, in a much revised form, appears in chapter two of The Lost Art of Second Chances. As I was writing along, Lucy’s grandmother, Belladonna, appeared whole cloth and promptly took over the whole scene (and book too). I’ll talk about Bella’s story in another future post.
Today, I wanted to talk about Frank. Lucy’s cat, unlike Bella, was not a wholesale invention of my imagination. Frank was based on my own beloved white cat.
The Pilot and I found Frank, and his sister, Carolina, as tiny eight week old abandoned kittens on my father-in-law’s farm. They’d taken refuge in a dilapidated barn. Carolina found me first and crawled up my jean leg into my arms. Frank was the little white puffball that followed her around. I scooped them both up and turned to my husband and father-in-law, who were both astounded that I’d managed to catch not one feral cat, but two.
We brought them home and, after several courses of worm and flea treatments, and some remedial litter box training, they were both wonderful pets. When Frank was about two, our amazing vet found a heart murmur and recommended a cat cardiologist. Thinking it was nothing, we visited only to find out that Frank had a genetic heart condition called feline hypertropic cardiomyopathy. We began a five year round of daily heart pills (which he detested) and semi-annual visits to the cardiologist with the dreaded EKG gel.
We lost him the day before Fox’s first birthday, when Frank was just seven. Young for a cat. At midnight the night before, he did his sideways leap and ricochet routine off the front window and the living room furniture. At dawn, he had a stroke and was gone within an hour.
It’s been nearly six years and I still miss him. When I spent four months on bed rest during my pregnancy with Fox, Frank laid at my feet every day, watching over me like a little feline guardian angel. He was very loving and affectionate with everyone, nearly like a dog that way. And he had a funny way of trilling his meow, like he was rolling his Rs. He even had a little kiss spot on his forehead and would come sit on my lap until I gave him his kiss.
Though Frank’s time on earth was shorter than any of us would have hoped, the truth is that we usually outlive our furry companions. When they go to the rainbow bridge, they leave their little paw prints right across our hearts. Most animal lovers never forget their furry friends.
Many writers, myself included, love to immortalize their lost pets in print. So, all white cats will forever be Frank in my books, where they never have to leave for the rainbow bridge. And someday, I hope to get to see my little white fluff ball again. But not for a while yet…I’ve got more books to write.
I’m not doing National Novel Writing Month (Nanowrimo) this year and it’s such an odd experience for me. Usually, in November, I’m putting everything in my life on hold to hit that 50K word count.
This year, I’m not participating for a couple of reasons.
1) We’re going on a long awaited family vacation and I didn’t want to impact that. Plus, getting ready for said vacation takes up a lot of time. I now understand my father, also an entrepreneur, always complaining about the ramp down and ramp up time before vacation when we were kids.
2) It falls at the wrong time in my process. I’m more focused on editing than drafting right now. I’m editing Welcoming the Muse and The Lost Art of Second Chances. The drafting I’m doing now is on shorter fanfic pieces for the holidays so I wouldn’t hit (and wouldn’t want to hit) 50K on them.
3) Now that I write full-time, Nano is not a challenge. I wrote 68K in November in fiction and more than that in fanfic and blog posts. It’s just another day’s work.
That said, I do love Nano. I love the energy and optimism around it. Of course, by now, mid-way in week two, that’s faded to bitter hatred but that’s normal, that’s just drafting. Nanowrimo taught me a lot and I’m grateful. Next year, I’ll be saddling up with you all. But, until then, kids, have fun storming the castle! 🙂
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is one of the biggest writing challenges of the year. The concept behind Nano is to write 50K words in a month at a breathtaking pace to outrun the inner critic and editor. At 1,667 words per day, there’s no time for anything but the words. I’ve done Nano multiple times and won twice. It’s a wonderful, if exhausting, experience.
I’ll definitely sign up this year and be writing at least part of the month. We’re going on a long-awaited vacation during Thanksgiving week and I’m pretty sure that Fox and the Pilot would object to me typing through it. Also, it happens to fall at the editing rather than drafting point in my process this year so…we’ll see. If I get though The Lost Art of Second Chances, than maybe I’ll start something new.
While Nano is the biggest and probably the best known writing challenge, my favorite is the monthly one on Twitter at www.writingchallenge.org I’ve been using it to write Bella’s story in LASC.
The concept is simple. Write 500 words per day or edit for at least one hour a day and tweet your results using the monthly hashtag. This month is #octwritingchallenge. Because participants are supposed to check the hashtag and root their fellow members on, the community is supportive and fun. I also like that it addresses not just the drafting process but also the editing time needed to whip a manuscript into shape.
October marks my second month participating in the challenge. If you’re writing or editing your masterpiece, come on over and join us!