I first heard about NaNoWriMo after reading an article written by a teenager who had participated several times in the month-long writing feeding frenzy. She was actually writing the article from a darkened hotel room, her family snoring away on their Thanksgiving trip. The dedication it took to write in the early morning hours before school were awe-inspiring, to say the least. I have to admit, I thought it was a pretty interesting idea and I was more than a little jealous that a high schooler had the willpower to stick it out before I did.
As luck would have it, I read that article a few weeks before November last year, giving me just enough time to work myself into a panic and start plotting like a madwoman. I read everything I could on NaNo, joined the website, plotted a story arc, and waited for several days on the edge of my seat for the fun to begin. At exactly three am on November first, I wrote my first words to my novel, The Earth is for Dancing, and loaded my word count into my own personal author page on nanowrimo.org. NaNo had officially begun!
Then day two hit. And day three. And eventually day seventeen. And the weirdest thing happened. All of the emailed pep talks from OLL staff and all of the motivational post-it notes I had prepared ahead of time fell by the wayside. I didn’t need their empty words of encouragement. It was almost as if this book was writing itself! I was on a roll! I even finished five days early, seven thousand words above the goal!!! I was a rock star!
The problem hit me on December 1st. I had nothing to do. I had spent thirty days of my life plotting and planning. I had gotten up early on Sunday mornings to sneak in a few thousand words before my family woke up. I had covered my hands in Sharpie tattoos because ideas came to me when there was never a notepad handy. I had cried real tears over this story when I finally realized that one of the characters had to die, just because it had to be.
And then it was over.
Suddenly, my young, lost teenaged character was out of my life. I had no more control over what happened to her, although at times throughout the month it felt like I’d never had any control over her to begin with. The book did. There was nothing to do but mourn for my characters, close the cover, and move on.
It wouldn’t seem like spitting out a 50,000-word novel in 30 days would produce a lot of quality material and I’ve since wondered if that’s why so many agents are closed to queries until mid-January, just to avoid the flood of hopeful queries that spring up out of NaNo novels. But I couldn’t let my girl go. She had to be heard.
So December became my own personal LorcaNoviEdiMowExInten (Lorca’s Novel Editing Month with Extreme Intensity), the month I spent agonizing over my novel, page by haunting page, adding backstory here, cutting teen-angst soaked dialogue there. I celebrated New Year’s Eve on
my sofa with my book, a concept born only two months before that had blown up into my own little masterpiece. I had my solitary little glass of champagne with a book I felt truly proud of and could finally send out into the world.
Today’s’ Guest Post is courtesy of the super prompt Lorca Damon!
Lorca Damon is a teacher, staff writer for GoodEReader.com, columnist for The Piedmont Journal, and YA fiction writer, as well as the author of Autism By Hand (available on Kindle and Nook). She’s a 2010 NaNo winner, which makes her somehow think this who concept is a cake walk. She’s probably in for a rude awakening this year.
Visit her website & follow her on Twitter!