Wednesday, November 25, 2009

*I Did Not Enter NaNoWriMo for the Same Reasons as You

Today I won NaNoWriMo!

For those of you unaware (though I can't imagine what kind of blinders you must be wearing to have missed it), NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month--it's a contest (of sorts) where you write 50k words in one month (a novel being the goal in sight). And for busting your hump to write 50,000 words (that's four zeros, in case you're not counting) in thirty days or less, you win this:

But this shiny new badge is made extra cool because it comes fully equipped with bragging rights, see. So, once you win, you can do this:

**Look at me, Damn it! I have a shiny new badge!

Okay, in all seriousness, why do it, right? I know those of you who opted not to participate (or, eh hemm, those of you who hadn't heard of it until now), are wondering who would enter into such a contest. It's not as if you get published just for spitting out so many words in thirty days.

I don't know what all the reasons are, and actually, the only one I've really heard is that some writers feel they need the motivation to sit down and keep pumping out words to complete a novel (first time writers, too many distractions, not enough insanity, your cat gets jealous...whatever.)

But, let me just say...I am not one of those people. I wrote my first manuscript, Aeternus, in six weeks. The first fifty thousand words took me only two weeks to write (Please refer to one of my earliest blog posts: Obsessions). You see I am insanely obsessive--emphasis on insane. When I set out to do something, I put everything into it, sometimes to the neglect and detriment of some very important things. I can't fully justify excuses. It is what it is, and I'm working on it.

But I digress...

The thing is, I didn't NEED NaNoWriMo to write my new book. What I needed was a sense of accomplishment. After I wrote and edited Aeternus, I tried to get representation for it, then learned, Holy crap, it's a bazillion words too long. So, I spent the next six weeks chopping 65K words and rewriting and reshaping and chop chop chop until my head actually exploded. And then I worked my eyeballs (the ones attached to the head that didn't actually explode) until they literally vibrated researching agents and all that hullabaloo, and frustrated my powers of persuasion getting a couple of people to read it, then wracked my brain until it bled as I rewrote queries and synopses and blurbs, oh my! Can I just say this--I mean, I really need to (those of you with PG eyeballs, skip the next sentence):

This shit really sucks. In the end, I got ten queries out and got back five rejections. Don't know what happened to the other five; rejection by omission, I guess...can't blame them. I don't even answer every e-mail I get, and I'm not getting hundreds a day. Still, I felt so discouraged, so drained of any ability to even look at Aeternus again that I set it aside. And guess what happened? idea. Very next day: first day of NaNo. Coincidence? I don't know. But I knew that I needed something to work for. I knew that in the end it may not be about publication at all (Pshaw!).

Now, is this the end for Aeternus? Ha! Of course not (OBSESSION). In fact, this weekend, I will likely set out to fix up some minor issues that have plagued me about Aeternus and start a new round of beta reading, and eventually more query letters. But, I have to tell you, this shiny new badge? It didn't get me an agent or a publication contract, but it did make me feel like I was just a little bit validated, you know? And not by some writing organization--but by me. Because I set out to do something, and I did it. And now, it sort of kind of feels like maybe perhaps if I set out to publish, it will happen too.

OR...maybe it's just a shiny new badge that says "Winner" on it, and if that happens to make me feel just a little bit good about myself, well, I'll take it.

P.S. I'm crazy grateful for a lot of things, the least of which is this shiny new badge. Thank you to my family firstly for encouraging my obsession despite all it costs you; thank you to my friends for not forgetting I exist even when I ignore you for fictional people; thank you to all of the wonderful people that have helped me with the research, love, and support that it takes to write my novels; thank you to my crit partners and #amwritingparty crowd and all of the other encouraging peeps I've met via Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. I swear, if I ever get published, I will acknowledge you personally in my book(s).

Happy Thanksgiving. Eat pie.

*I recognize that it's quite possible you entered NaNoWriMo for the same reason as me, but I needed a title, and that one seemed catchy. Get off my back already.
**Crazy person shouting pic is from


  1. Did you say 200k in six weeks? 50k in two weeks? Um... uh... whoa. Yes, I'd say obsessive just about covers it.

    Congrats on the NaNo win, good lady! You are indeed a prolific wordsmith, and all must now acknowledge it. *bows, slightly obseqiously*

    Now only about 50k more until the novel is done, right? ... :)

  2. Woohoo! Congrats :)

    I hope my badge is coming soon - hopefully I can get some time tonight (it's beeen a crazy week). It's such a thrill to "win"

  3. Oh Simon, I have made every rookie mistake possible. And it may be that Aeternus will not be publishable until I've had five other manuscripts published (or maybe not publishable at all). BUT, I'm insanely persistent (all part of the whole OCD business, with the O being in BOLD). On a side note, thanks for the compliment, but...hmm...I'm a prolific talker, too. So, not sure if it means much until you can stick "published" in front of "prolific." Regardless, thank you for the acknowledgment and kind congratulations!

    Jemi, thank you! I have a feeling you will be done soon! I told myself, if nothing else, I got a stupid blog post out of my win ;) Good luck!

  4. Congratulations on the nano win!! I am so happy for you - and already love the story you're working on :-) And I think participating in nano for the reason that you did is the absolute best reason around. Scheduled momentum helps create positive motivation and it can work wonders... And such great timing for you! I wish I'd had that type as well - instead I was a nanorebel and was finished after 30k.

    Happy Thanksgiving!! xoxoxo

  5. Carol ~ it sounds like you write much the way I do, in that once I get rolling it takes a brick wall to stop me (and there are those who doubt running into a brick wall would even register). It sometimes takes a bit to get me to sit down & focus on the task at hand (after all, #iamthequeenofprocrastination) but once I do the house could fall down and I might hear a tiny thud, but wouldn't get up to check.

    Keep on with what you're doing - you don't need a shiny new badge to validate yourself as a writer. Rejections are simply part of the whole business - don't let them define who you are or what you have accomplished. Finishing a novel is a HUGE accomplishment, and don't let anyone take that away from you.

    Persistence, through staying the course and taking on criticism and improving will be the keys to your ultimate success.

  6. Congratulations! My big accomplishment this year won't be winning Nano. I'll be lucky to get 30K words.

    My big win this year has been getting a writers group started. (Yeah!) Some of us have even published before. (Double-yeah!)

    So, way to go and Happy holidays!

  7. Oh my gosh I COMPLETELY understand your rejection bitterness. I have been rejected by like 12 editors, and this comes after being rejected by about 4 million agents until someone finally signed me. But - I don't know if you saw this post on my blog - did you know that Kathryn Stockett got rejected almost 60 times before she finally got published? Yeah... and The Help is doing pretty well.

  8. Sara, you are always so sweet. Thank you! And you were still awesome, btw, even if you didn't get to 50k, because really, that would have put you 20k too many words ;) Besides, everyody loves a rebel. Hope you had a marvelous Thanksgiving! Missed you!

    LK, As always, you know what to say. Thank you for the encouragement. Will try to get things shaped up and then, right back on the saddle I go. Hard, though, as my mind has rocket forward onto Anthony and Scarlett, and the Obsesso in me wants me to keep at it. Will have to split my time.

    Nancy, thanks for the congrats! And congrats to you, too! I think geting a writer's group going is a significant acomplishment and worth your pride! Gooooo Nancy! Besides, didn't you completely start your manuscript over part way through? I think you're doing very well!

    Anne, thank you for the encouraging words. I know they say that 10 queries is nothing at all, but rejection is rejection and no matter what, it always forces you to look inward and question what is essentially wrong with your work (or worse, you). I'll keep at it, making some changes and meanwhile, also keep working on the next book. You must have been so frustrated with your own rejections, but I have confidence that your book will be a success. I'll be cheering you on, waiting for that book to hit the shelves!

  9. Congratulations - *round of applause*

    You should be SOoo proud of yourself. Enjoy your shiny new badge honey :)

  10. quill (aka Wendy!), thanks so much for the congrats! It's nice to get an award ;)

  11. Yes, I did start over. And it was the right thing to do, even if I don't have an uninterrupted string of November NaNoWriMo wins.

    Besides, January is a longer month anyway. Maybe I'll try again then and it'll be PerNoWriMo, personal novel writing month.

  12. Nancy, that sounds like a brilliant idea! Love the PerNoWriMo!! Congrats on the restart. It takes a lot of courage to restart a novel from the beginning! I'll be following your progress.


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