NaNO till You Can’t Write Mo
It’s November, that magical thankful month when writers decide to push themselves and complete a novel in one month. Many complete the challenge. Others do not. But that’s not what this is about. This about my personal journey last year through NaNoWriteMo and the sixty-thousand-word behemoth currently residing under the working title of “What Hath I Done?”
I shouldn’t have tried last year to participate. I wasn’t in the right head space. I had too much personal drama going on. I had no idea what to write. But, as a good friend who is also a writer told me many times, just put the words down. Then you can edit later.
So as soon as the last little Halloween chocolate mini was given away, I sat down at my computer to start my magnum opus. I chose a set of characters, I devised a general plot, and I developed a bad guy. With a full pitcher of ice tea, and a clean notebook for jotting down notes, I set about writing.
First, I am not a planner.
I’ve been a pantser since elementary school and book report deadlines that always seemed to leap up and surprise me. So it wasn’t long, November 6th of last year to be precise, when I realized that my topic had veered wildly off course.
My heroine was having lustful thoughts about the bad guy, the hero was just not into saving anyone, and the most interesting character was a golden retriever who barked at empty corners. Since I was more than three chapters into this mess I was attempting to craft into a book, I decided to keep going and see just how weird this thing could get.
I set a forest on fire to cover up a break-in. I exploded a landmine under an SUV on a narrow mountain road only to flip up against a tree, thereby saving everyone from falling a thousand feet into a gorge filled with poison ivy. I built mining tunnels throughout the mountains, filled with secret rooms used for hiding moonshine and holding mystic ritual ceremonies.
There were love scenes
that could have inspire a gymnastic routine. Car chases around town in rush hour traffic, where the entire chase moved no faster than fifteen miles per hour and the trick was to keep moving from lane to lane without crossing in front of the bad guys. Oh, the penultimate moment when the hero and his lady had to raft down a slow-moving river while hiding from a gunship drone looking for them.
By Thanksgiving I had reached my word count goal, and stuck my tongue at all those who said I couldn’t make it. After hitting save for the final time, I closed the document and haven’t looked at it since.
I’ve concluded that while I always feel the stories weaving themselves inside my head, not every thread is a gem. I’ve also discovered that I cannot push my muse. She’s a capricious wench, and to deny her the time to build her stories her way, is to court literary goulash of a horrific manner.
Someday I will open this file again…
read through the gumbo of a story I threw together in honor of the great November writing exercise. There might actually be a real book in there, once I get past all the gadgets and gimmicks and lame interactions that I threw into the mix to make daily word counts. But never again will I push myself to commit to something I don’t feel inside. Without that commitment from my inner guide, nothing happens.
I applaud all those who are participating and wish them great success. They possess an ability I find lacking in myself.
But if you know anyone interested in a story with international terrorists running a gold mining operation in the wilds of Northern Georgia, discovered by a team doing a modeling shoot at a secluded mountain chalet, have I got a book for them!
Nancy’s Best Author Advice:
So, I plod forward a few paragraphs at a time. It’s progress, and I am definitely not complaining. I will take them as they come and work them into sentences. Slowly but surely the pages of the stories in my life will creep forward. That is the direction I choose, and I thank all that is holy for the ability to do so.
In the end, that is all I need.
Nancy Reece won her first writing contest in seventh grade, and a life long passion was awakened. Born in Pennsylvania, but raised in the South, Nancy studied Psychology at Wesleyan College in Macon Georgia and Computer Information Systems at Southern Polytechnical College. She is married, and lives in the Atlanta area along with two children, two dogs, and a cat. In her spare time she is very active in animal rescue, especially horses, and is on the Board of Directors for Blue Skies Riding Academy, a 501c3 equine rescue dedicated to rehabilitating and retraining horses which have been redeemed from slaughter pens and other abusive situations.
Raised in a dysfunctional family, Cassandra Devlyn Ferguson has tried to leave the past behind and carve out a new life with her husband, former Black Ops specialist, Sean Ferguson. Her family’s shady business dealings never involved her, and she intends to keep it that way.
Sean wants nothing more than to be a devoted, loving husband. But his new job sends him to the front lines at some of the world’s most dangerous spots. For years, he’s blamed his Irish wanderlust for the risks, but the truth is ‘ he enjoys the rush of adrenaline danger brings. When the Devlyn family’s mistakes come looking for Cassie, it’s up to Sean to bring her home safely.
The one positive? Cassie knows all about her family’s true nature and is willing to walk away from everything to stay with him. The negative? Someone wants them dead and will stop at nothing to keep all the skeletons in the closet.
Other Books by Nance Reece: