Daily Archives: November 27, 2014

Happy [Insert celebration here]!

For my American friends, it is Thanksgiving today; and I hope you have a filling and fulfilling one!

For me, it is the beginning of the end of NaNoWriMo. [In its honour, this post comes to you complete with typos!] I finished my 50,000 words last night and ‘validated’ them today, so I’m officially a winner! There are few more days of the event left and a few more events for me to co-host / organise, but we are definitely nearing the end. It’s been one heck of a road.

At our halfway party, a new WriMo asked me why anyone would do it twice. There are so many answers to that question, I hardly knew where to start! For some, NaNoWriMo is simply a challenge and once completed, like those who run a single marathon in their lives and then stop, once it’s done it’s done.

For others, it’s the addiction of the community. We’re lucky here in Toronto to have a great group of Wrimos and new faces joining every year, to make the events and the online worlds of ToNaNo a fantastic opportunity and something we miss the rest of the year. Plenty of our members skip a year of writing and still join in the festivities, and they are welcomed with open arms.

For me, it’s about the writing. I love to write, and the challenge and discipline of NaNoWriMo, like the weekly Friday Fictioneers, gives me the motivation and the excuse to focus on that passion for a short time. Every year I’ve participated (barring last year, which we never talk about), I’ve not just won in terms of word count, but I’ve also produced something that I am proud to call my own. They all need a lot of editing, and I wish I could find an equally compelling Novel Editing group to force me through that process, but I genuinely believe they could all be good stories given the right attention.

But there’s something else about coming back to NaNoWriMo. Every year it’s different. Every year, the challenge may be the same, but the novel, the circumstances and the distractions vary widely. My first year, I was off work so I had all the time in the world, but I was off work with a serious illness, so I had time but lacked energy and strength. The painkillers mae my brain fuzzy for huge periods, they and the condition itself exhausted me on a daily basis.

The following year, I was a new expat in Toronto. I need to meet people and NaNoWriMo helped me to do that, but the words mattered less than the people, and I was working part time as well as growing my new life in the New World. I was a different challenge – easier and harder all at once.

Then in 2011, I missed the first week of November by spending them in a Monastery in Nepal and on tour in Tibetan China. I had a notebook, but my mind wasn’t really on the words. When I got home, I wanted to prioritise time with my husband, and I was already behind on Word count. Plus I decided to write a series of short stories instead of a novel – easier because each only had to be 7k or so, harder because each had to be a whole story in and of itself; requiring it own world-building, plotting and character development, and its own identity.

2012, Sebastian was born and I took the year off, 2013 he was one and I wrote whilst mothering and getting to grips with my new role (still) and I had no plan or idea in advance and the result was unmentionable.

And then this year had it’s own challenges: a toddler who attacks the laptop whenever he sees it, a busy life, co-running the region on the side, and a novel I genuinely cared about but hadn’t had time to research or plan as much as I wanted to. LAst night, when I typed that 50,000th word, I felt great (and tired, and headachey). And I discovered a new dilemma. The scene I wrote is only perhaps 4/5 of the way through the novel I had intended, but it feels surprisingly like the end of the story. The question is, do I go on and write the rest of the scenes in my head, or do I let it stand? I think I’ll have to write those extra scenes, but this ending is a nice one – surprisingly clean, tidy, and a lot more uplifting than the one I’d intended. So we’ll see. Perhaps I’ll write them and then cut them out during the edit. Or perhaps it will feel even more complete when they are done. Perhaps I’ll run out of time to fit them in and the novel will remain as it stands – surprisingly uplifting is not necessarily a bad thing!

If I write again next year, no doubt the challenge will be different again? Where will I be? What will my day-to-day life be like? What time and energy and brainpower will I have to devote to writing? And will I win again? Who knows.

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