Monday, December 1, 2014

On the Other Side of November

I missed you.

I didn't know exactly what November would look like.  It's a full month, anyway, and I had this challenge I wanted to try.  It's even on my birthday list: 3. Participate in National Novel Writing Month.  I participated.

I referenced it a few times, but NaNoWriMo totally took over my life.  I did less chores, spent WAY less time watching TV (and consequently had to be more deliberate about spending time with my husband), did minimal blog reading & writing, and generally lived in my story world.  By the end of the month, even my three-year-old knew the drill.  "You going to work on your writing?"  He put a little chair and a cordless keyboard in the office next to me, and we worked together.

There were huge pros and minimal cons that came from a month of needing to write an average of 1667 words a day.  Next year, I will have some posts lined up so the blog doesn't go completely silent for a month.  I will also make sure that all Thank You cards from October birthdays are squared away well in advance...not that a stack of them are still sitting in a lonely pile in the office...never.  I also drank a ton of beer and coffee while sitting at my desk- next year, more water and chopped up fruit, less cookies and candy cane Hershey's kisses.

But I loved working on my story, hunting down weird names for characters, writing scenes just to get them out of my system, picking a word that means 'glare' but isn't 'glare' because I've already said 'glare' four times.  Ben, is great at dialogue and plot from his years of screenwriting, and he took such a flattering interest in the story, helping me hammer out tricky parts and talking me through big ideas.  I made some playlists of sad, mournful, pretty music (Ingrid Michaelson's Ghost featured prominently) to listen to while I created a spookyish world.  I had a freaking blast.

Most days I would get a chunk of writing done in the hour from 5:15-6:15 am, but this time was also eaten up by making coffee and eating breakfast and checking Facebook.  If any kids woke up while I was on a roll, I would lose steam.  I'd come back to writing around 8:30 pm or so, after I went to the gym for a half hour of reading time speed walking on the treadmill.  The website stats say my average was 1,672 words a day, but there would be days where I'd only get a few hundred, or even nothing at all, and then return on a weekend morning or holiday and pound out 3K-5K in one sitting.  On Sunday, November 30th, I woke up at 4 am and started clicking, with plans to stay planted all day.  Around 11:30 am, 4,567 words later, I validated my chunk of text and "won" National Novel Writing Month.

My story isn't finished.  I have about 2/3 of the action down, but I don't write in order, so I need to fill in some gaps.  It's also ROUGH.  One of the hardest things about NaNoWriMo is training yourself to leave it all on the paper, but that means you have to go back later and clean it up, and I need to seriously tweak most of what I wrote.  I'm stepping back from the whole thing in the month of December, but when I come back to it, I'm going to clean up one chapter at a time and I'd like to share it here.  Fiction Fridays, maybe?

Yesterday afternoon, I laid in the living room and read a novel by the light of the Christmas tree while Ben and the boys watched the Polar Express and did gymnastics on the couch cushions- no trying to squeeze 200 words in while the boys were occupied. This morning I woke up, made coffee, and browsed through some of the blogs I've been ignoring for a month- no pulling up my document and forcing myself not to waste time rereading my last chapter.  Tonight, at the gym, I am going to do the weight machines circuit that I really love.  There will be time to read when I get home.

Thank you so much to all you lovelies who have been cheering me on (or even just patiently tolerating my droning about this- I hear your words) for the past month.  It helped me give myself permission to take this silly challenge seriously, and I am grateful.

An excerpt from the beginning of my story, tentatively titled The Family Historian, can be found here.  

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At December 1, 2014 at 10:45 AM , Anonymous stephanie, sandpaper and glue said...

I would LOVE Fiction Fridays :). Congrats for completing such an amazing goal!

At December 2, 2014 at 6:58 AM , Blogger ashlie said...

Thank you so much! I can't wait to catch up on the goings on I missed at your house!


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