NANOWRIMO or try to write 50,000 words with little-to-no planning, all while continuing to live the rest of your life

Ever start on a project and then lose some enthusiasm?  Look, I’m a great ‘ideas’ gal, but sometimes I’m not so great on the ‘follow through’ portion of the task.

The irony behind that statement is that I DO tend to finish most things I start… it just may take me a little longer than normal.  Take for example, my college ‘career’ (side note: I think we call it a career so that we can pretend longer that we are actually doing more than just learning how to brew beer).  Yes, I was in college, mostly full-time, from 1996 until 2006.  I even started college with about fifteen hours of credit. I was a “decader” and I certainly was not the only one around.  I did manage to graduate and get several degrees and certificates; I also changed my mind—and rather than finish what I had started, I changed horses mid-race.

I’m discussing all of this because two years ago, I got this idea.  My first group of middle-schoolers were entering their senior years of high school.  Like with many first-year teachers, that class remains special in my heart.  A number of them sent me graduation invitations and continue to keep in touch.  While that year was rigorous and full of many first-year mistakes, I treasure the thought of those students.  Since I had begun writing again, I decided maybe I would try writing a novel, one set right here in Wichita with a young adult audience in mind.

    What the hell was I thinking?  Upon reflection, I do have to cut myself some slack.  After all, I did complete a short story collection and have been writing fiction for a decade.  How hard could a novel be?

I never got passed the first 4,000 words.  I DID join an organization full of great novelists and I HAVE been listening to them and learning from them.  I’ve learned about outlines and plot; I’ve listened to special speakers discuss characterization and revision.  I even wrote an ‘elevator pitch’ for the novel that I NEVER ACTUALLY WROTE.  I even submitted the first chapter (the only part I ever finished) to a Kansas Writers Association contest.

In my defense, I did write a ton of poetry, did some local poetry readings, began to negotiate a contract for my first chapbook, gave birth to my second child, received a Good Apple teaching award, and helped hammer out a pacing guide for my district, AND I learned how to befuddle my way through WordPress [badly].  It’s not like I wasn’t ‘doing’ anything.

But a few months ago, I decided that I should finish that story and maybe NANOWRIMO was the way to do it.  For those of you uninitiated, this is the crazy time when thousands of idiots around the country attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November.  Did I say idiot?  Huh.  Where do I sign up??

So I spent several weeks really hammering out a plan, an actual outline (more on this later) and am giving it a real ‘go.’  I also let myself really rethink what I had originally imagined, acknowledging that perhaps I had lost enthusiasm for the project because it was boring even to me. I’ve given it a new title and even created a book cover–just for giggles.  I feel a little insane for taking this on, but I also know that I am in good company with a lot of great people and at least by the end of the month, I can say… DONE.  I actually FINISHED that project.

I’ll try to keep things posted here, updates and such, but the truth is that it’s going to be hard enough slinging out the material for the book.  Blogging won’t be the high priority.  If you are attempting NANOWRIMO too, feel free to look me up and be a ‘buddy.’  So on this eve for daylight savings… Happy writing all!


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