Category Archives: Fiction

NaNo Victorious

I won NaNoWriMo in 11 days. That means that in 11 days, I wrote 50,000 words.

And I just don’t feel great about it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love meeting a challenge. I love filling out the forms and seeing the stats. How many days ahead I am. How many words per day I average. That’s actually quite a rush for a left-brained writer like me.

I wrote a few thousand words half-heartedly in a poorly thought out novel idea I have. The remaining words were in a series of essays that felt more like confessionals than anything else. They were sprawling and unfocused and certainly unfunny.

I know that 50,000 words of any sort are nothing to sneeze at. I’m a big fan of this notion:

But I’m also, like a certain famous founding father made popular by the luminous Lin-Manuel Miranda, writing like I’m running out of time. That’s just the point I’m at in my life. This is probably a result of having celebrated a fairly major birthday yesterday, but that’s another post for another time.

I am fine if I write bad first drafts. I am used to it and know what to do.

I am fine if I write pointless first drafts to be tucked away probably never to see the light of day again.

But I’m not so fine when it’s both. And this felt like that.

The novel? I need to really flesh it out, to plan, to consider, to walk around in that world longer than the one week I did in October. The book itself jumped around from young adult to “show me your ID” adult, and that, if nothing else needs to be cleared up.

I like writing essays and poems, though. That’s where my heart is. That’s where, right now, the humor is.

But those essays are not things to be rushed for the sake of NaNo or any other false deadlines. They are things to be rushed for real deadlines — the ones I impose on myself, the ones that wake me up at 3 in the morning because if I don’t get the words out, they pull apart and bind with the oxygen in the air and float away.

My husband pointed out that sitting down and doing the work, getting to the writing, has never been my problem. My problem, for better or worse, is idea generation. I tend to struggle for the right things to write about. Once decided, the words flow. That’s an entirely different situation than what I believe NaNo addresses., which, as far as I can tell, turning off the internal editor and working past certain elemental fears that all writers have.

So, for now, I am NaNo victorious, but the work is nowhere near done.

NaNo Scatter

I’ve had the privilege of two protracted, relatively uninterrupted writing days. I’m closing in on 10,000 words already. First drafts and word counts are rarely my problems — it’s the rewriting, the editing, and finding the art in the marble that causes me to sweat.

So far, I haven’t felt particularly funny and instead wrote stark, necessary essays. Now purged of some of the sulfur, I’m reconsidering the novel I put aside the other day in favor of writing essays.

Maybe a few thousand words will let me know if this is the right time for a novel. Maybe tomorrow I’ll feel funny. Maybe in a week, I’ll have the courage to continue the serious pieces.

So I’ll permit myself this oscillate-writing. Back and forth, concurrent, parallel, and distinct. Perhaps an unsurprising constellation awaits at the end.

NaNoWriMo 2017

I am participating in my third-ever NaNoWriMo. It’s been a bit of a journey to get to the first lines of this challenge.

I wanted to write a book, fiction specifically. I’ve been feeling it’s high time for me to launch into the “next phase” — and that felt like doing something book-y.

I narrowed my initial three ideas down to one. I had a beginning, a mushy middle, and an end. The basics. I began plotting and getting to know my characters. I read books on the process. I studied my favorite novels.

I was starting to feel…stressed, actually. Completely unready to take this on. Not in an “I’m not good enough” way but in a “This doesn’t quite feel right” kind of way.

About a week ago, I got several emails and messages from friends and acquaintances about various humor pieces I’ve had published in the last few months. They all mentioned how my voice is distinct, and their words were complimentary and so very appreciated.

I said to my husband that I needed to find a way to make my book humorous like my essays, that that feels most me right now. And in his infinite wisdom, he said, “Why don’t you just do a book of essays?”

It stopped me in my tracks, as did my response. “Because I think for that to be successful, I’d need a much larger internet following than I have.”

Which…is not a good reason not to write the book I want to write and the book that I think will be good. I can’t control the market, I can’t worry about the selling points. I just need to worry about writing.

So I started from scratch, planning essays, figuring out a tentative through-line which I am more than happy to toss aside at any point. I’m keeping the novel ideas because I’m learning (the hard way) to never say never.

Today I started writing.

See you in 50,000 words!