Tuesday, November 1, 2016

On NaNoWriMo and What It Has Meant To Me

Firstly, if you can vote already, get that mess done. Get it out of the way. Do your civic duty, you will feel so much better. Yes, I know the choices suck. All of them. Unfortunately, it's pick one or abstain from the process and if you abstain from the process, you're a coward in my opinion. But hey, that's just my two cents and who am I to tell you, a red-blooded AMERICAN, what to do?

Moving on...

NANOWRIMO or National Novel writing Month. The amazing happening which occurs from the 1st of November and runs until the 30th in which thousands of people chain themselves to keyboards and pump out vast amounts of words in an utter unleashing of creativity the likes of which is rarely seen. This year, if I were doing it, would be my 12th year in the trenches. I know what you're thinking...HOLY CRAP 12 years? Seriously? Yes, seriously. In 2005, a close friend, you know her as D E Morris, author of the Heritage books messaged me on AIM (remember when that was a serious thing?) and said, "I think you should take this challenge." At the time, I had never heard of NaNo before. I was just one of those girls who wrote in their spare time (mostly X-men Fanfic) and though way in the back of my mind I had always wanted to write a book, I had never stepped out on that particular bough in case it might indeed break. So October of 2005, my friend presents me with this challenge and I look at it with absolute abject fear. I grew up reading Eddings, McCaffrey, Anthony, and then more recently (20 years ago) King, I had idols in my pantheon and I looked at my work (online rp and fanfic) and said "There ain't no way."

I refused the call to adventure, ladies and gents, but as anyone knows, the journey has already started for it begins in the mind. D sat back at that point and let me work on myself. I had all the voices in my head that kept saying No, but there was one, which is all you really need, saying "What if?" What if I could? What if I believed, even for just an hour or so a day, that I was good? What if? So on November 1st of 2005, I sat down at my computer and I attempted to write a book. That book, "Rain," sits on my computer today having grown beyond the initial 50k words I wrote in 2005. It is actually, if I should ever revisit it, the beginning of something longer. However, because it is really a way of me dealing with my parents' divorce (They got divorced circa 2001) I see no need to inflict it and its first book inadequacies on anyone else. What is important about "Rain" was that it taught me that I could produce 50k words of fiction in 30 days. The next year, 2006, I failed miserably. I blame grad school. But NaNoWriMo became something of an ongoing tradition for me. The urge to be a writer/author, to actually sell my books, would eventually kick in and I would begin to write all the time. So in a way, NaNo was my gateway to possibility, my Narnia wardrobe. Unfortunately, like all love affairs, they have to grow or they die.

I'm not doing NaNo this year. Not because I don't have time or such codswallow, but because I don't really need to. Just recently, at the behest of Isabella Darkwood, another author in my writing group, I cataloged the number of projects I had on my computer which had been written as first drafts and then essentially left to rot. I have a number of them. This begs the question: Why produce one more first draft when I have pieces begging for a second draft or more before they can be published? The three books of She Becomes Death are completed, but only one of them has had more than a first draft (Hint: It's the one available on Amazon.) The second book in Chains of Fate has also be completed, but it needs a second draft/editing. Then there are five other, unrelated, projects which have all been completed, THE END has been typed on them, but they languish awaiting me to take the time to finish them properly. This without the myriad of short stories I've written over the course of my 12 year love affair with writing my own characters and my own situations.

I still love NaNo. I do. I never would have stepped out and attempted what, at one point, my own mind told me was impossible without it. That is its strength. It offers the perfect space to give it a shot. You have a community cheering you on. You have others in the trenches with you. You have professionals teaching you as you go. And despite the fact that you have a goal, there is no expectation. If you don't make it, so what? If you falter, get behind, can't pump out the words, so what? The community still lifts you on its shoulders. There's no one pointing fingers and judging. It is amazing. I wish more learning experiences felt this way.

3 comments:

Rebekah @ Run Away From Zombies said...

Loved learning more about your Nano journey. I'm doing nano for the same reason you aren't, to get another first draft.

I want to be you when I grow up.

Alledria said...

@Rebekah

I'm not 100% sure I want to be me when I grow up, but thanks for the compliment.

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