I love November.
It may be my favorite month.
Why? Nanowrimo – or National Novel Writing Month for those of you not in the know. 50,000 words in thirty days.
It. Is. Awesome.
It is also, at this point in my life, the only time of year I let myself really, truly write. The other eleven months of the year I hardly write at all. Looking over the various projects I’m working on I have written approximately 25,000 words since last November. Now that is low, even for me. I blame moving, having a baby, learning how to juggle three kids etc, etc…
Damn. I need a moment. Did I really write so little? Normally even at my subdued “I’m a full time mother” pace I still pack 40-50k words a year excluding Nanowrimo. 25,000 words is rather depressing.)
So true it isn’t even funny.
The fact remains that at the very heart of things I am a Writer. Not just someone who writes stories, mind you, but one of those loons that walks around with people and worlds inside of my head that are more vivid and real to me than most of the people I meet. Not writing is not a possibility for me. If I stopped I’d probably go completely crazy – and not in the “aww, that’s cute” way. No, I’m talking about the “white padded room and a straight jacket” way.
Is it bad that Lawrence read this over my shoulder and burst into a slightly disturbing “that’s exactly right’ type of laughter?
Ever since David hit the crawling stage and being a mom became much more time consuming I have cut back on my writing severely. I get by with little snippets here and there, but for the most part I don’t sit and write unless a story insists that I absolutely MUST. Anyone that knows me well will vouch for this – I get sucked into my inner worlds. Absolutely consumed by them. Once I really, truly get going it is very, very hard for me to stop. In fact, usually stopping comes at the instance of a character because they need more time to process things. (Yes. I talk about them like they’re real, with real needs and wants. If you know many artists, especially authors, you’ll find that it is fairly common.) I usually write the last 5 to 10,000 words of a story in one sitting because it is physically/mentally/emotionally impossible to get up and walk away.
All of this to say – when motherhood starting requiring more work I had to choose between being a mom and being a writer (for the time being). I chose being a mom. November is the one month of the year that I allow myself to slip on that, just a little.
I don’t neglect my kids, but my evenings are completely devoted to writing. The kids go to bed. I snuggle/talk with Lawrence for a few minutes and then my headphones go in and I’m lost to the world for a couple of hours. I look forward to November for most of the year – just ask Lawrence. I turned to him on the 1st of September and told him “I’m excited that it is September.” When he asked me why my response was “Because September is before October and after October is November. Nanowrimo is almost here!”
No. I’m not joking.
He might wish I was though, lol.
All of this to say that now that November is under just two weeks away I am officially “getting ready”. I’ve built my playlist – I’ve been keeping track of songs that make me “feel” the story or characters for months now. I’ve stopped writing anything else but what I intend to write, and even now I’m only doing background work at this point.
Well, I’ve stopped writing anything serious. I will admit, shamefully, that I’ve tinkered around a bit with some fan fic just because I am going to lose my mind (or what is left of it) waiting for Sherlock season three to come out. This disturbs me more than I can say (and no, I didn’t include fan fic writing in my word count). As a writer that is very attached and involved with her characters and her worlds the idea of fan fiction is somewhat violating. It’s like having a complete stranger walk randomly into your house to go through your underwear drawer and rearrange all of your belongs while you are just sitting there.
But that is another horse entirely.
Now, I don’t follow the official Nanowrimo rules quite to a T. Writing a complete novel beginning to end in one month is a very nice idea but my smallest finished novel to date is approximately 85,000 words. My largest is just over 300,000. The other finished novels clock in at 187,000, 216,000, and 233,000 (approximately) respectively. And that is not counting the approximately 600,000 words I have lying around in various forms: just started novels (mostly started so I have that “hook” to remind me), future scenes (written when they were speaking more strongly than whatever was presently going on in the book), and background information – history, poetry, treatises etc, etc.
So, I do an abbreviated version of the Nanowrimo rules. The basics are this: I stick to the 50,000 words in 30 days rule. They also must all be on one book. It doesn’t, however, matter if I’ve already started that book or not.
This year I’m going back to one of my favorites, and one of my strongest (mental presence wise), stories. All told it is a series of three quartets. I finished the first draft of the first book when I was 18 – 216,000 words. The second book I mostly finished last year after working on it for several years. I say mostly because I wrote everything but a series of scenes that span about four chapters towards the end of the book. They were/are scenes that I have been stalled on for over five years. The main protagonist finds them exceptionally painful. Out of all that I know happens to her, this is the most painful section of her life and fictional though she may be I found that I could not write them. The pain was too great.
So she and I struck a bargain (again, talking about her like she is real. I know. I’m not that insane, I promise. I’m just putting out on the internets what most writers only talk about when they’re talking to each other.) I’ll go back to the beginning. The book needs to be rewritten a bit anyway – none of the story is changing, but the characters voices are stronger, much stronger, after being stalled in my head for so long and I want the strength of their personalities to come across in the writing. In exchange for that she will give me that part of her life. She’ll let me write it.
I’ve started keeping my end of the deal. 18,462 of those 25,000 words belong to the new draft. she has kept her end too, or at least started – 2300 words worth.
This year, for Nanowrimo I’ll add another 50,000 + words to those 18k.
As much as I absolutely love being a wife and mother – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in existence – there is a part of me that lives only for November.