Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NaNoWriMo Writing Frenzy!

NaNoWriMo is kicking my butt!

For those of you who don't know what that is, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it's a yearly period from November 1st to November 30th in which each participant tries to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days.  My goal, because I'm a chronic overachiever, is 100,000 words and at least some good bits in there to balance out the rest.  I'm right on target, but, man!  It's getting harder and harder to keep at it.  Ghirardelli hot chocolate mix stirred into warm almond milk is keeping me going.  It's just something about that chocolatey sweetness...mmm!  It makes me feel like I'm sitting in front of a fire on Christmas morning and am slipping into a lovely little state of relaxation, which, naturally, is totally nuked by the stress of writing 3,334 words in a day on top of schoolwork, but at least it neutralizes my playing field.

Additionally, it was the only hot chocolate mix I could find one chilly morning at Publix that didn't include corn syrup solids and nonfat dry milk whey garbage.  So three cheers for Ghirardelli and their straight-sugar approach (stevia, when will you enter the mainstream?) and I intend to try their mocha and hazelnut flavors next!

Shoot.  I just inhaled a huge clump of chocolate powder and strained a few muscles trying not to cough wet chocolate all over the screen.  That, my friends, is the real downside to this new addiction!

If you check out the top right corner of this blog, you can see a cute little blue box labeled "2010 NaNoWriMo Progress", and along with a miniature changeable picture, it has a bar of my progress and then the actual word count.  Now that I'm at 31,705 and well over halfway for the 50K goal, I'm starting to love that little orange progress bar.  It's got all the satisfaction of running a marathon, but, uh.  It works the mind instead of the body?  Yes.  That's it.  And it takes a month.

So why, exactly, am I running this mental marathon only to get carpal tunnel syndrome as my reward?  Because there is no actual reward.  I get a nice "winner" logo to post places, discounts on Scrivener, Storyist, and Scribendi software, and a free proof copy of my novel in paperback book from from createspace.  I also get the satisfaction of a job well done and I get a steaming pile of literary crap to be proud of and brag about on all occasions.  (Although I probably won't.)  So why all the fuss?

Well, I used to write a whole lot.  When I was 14, I got into Harry Potter fanfiction, and let me tell you, I wrote a monster of a story about Harry's mother that was well over 400,000 words by the time I'd finally realized that nothing could save it from being totally terrible and that I never wanted to look at it ever again.  So then writing fizzled out, and I missed it.  A lot.

A few years later, I still wasn't back to writing fiction, because I was now convinced that anything I wrote would be miserable rubbish since I was out of practice.  So whenever I would write anything, I never got past about five or six pages.  (Which is about 6,000 words, you know.  I write in 8 point Verdana, because I clearly want my eyes to die before I'm thirty.)

I am depending on NaNoWriMo to break me out of this.  Among other amazing tools in its arsenal, the website provides you with pep talks written by some really awesome authors:  Neil Gaiman (!), Meg Cabot (who wrote The Princess Diaries), Gail Carson Levine (who wrote that lovely story, Ella Enchanted, which Disney subsequently butchered), and Katherine Paterson (remember Bridge to Terebithia?).  I have to admit, I've kept Neil Gaiman's pep talk in a star-struck open window all week.

It is a marathon of writing anything that comes to mind and not editing, not editing at all because editing is the DEVIL and will make your hate yourself.  Editing can come later.  Right now, writing is important.  And it's amazing, because although I'm still secretly second-guessing myself at every turn at least I'm spitting out ideas and characters that were never in my first outline or anywhere in my head on November 1st, and I'm realizing that I'm better at pacing and writing dialogue than  I thought I was, and overall this story is getting way, way, way more exciting than I ever imagined!

I love my characters.  And, after several heavy editing sessions that will take much longer than NaNoWriMo did, I intend to bite the bullet and write up a few letters to send out to agents and/or publishing companies, because, damn it, I have always wanted to be a writer in addition to everything else.  Why else would I start a blog?  I had to have some outlet for the never-resting drive to bang out words.

Of course, the only drawback is that now I have abandoned my darling blog for more than a week and I have all these gorgeous pictures of detox-friendly recipes pleading to be posted!  My poor laptop had to be wiped a few weeks ago, just before the Thai Red Curry post, so unfortunately Photoshop still has to be installed.  All my pictures will have to undergo a slight delay so that they can be posted from my computer at school, but it's worth it, right?  What's a recipe without pictures?

See that monkey in the NaNoWriMo web badge to the left? That is what is going on with my life.  It's bananas.

The Five Stages of NaNoWriMo