Coffee and Conversation: A NaNoing I Will Go!

Grab a cuppa and a comfy seat, and let’s chat a while!

It’s Monday again –  time for Coffee and Conversation.

 When I was six, my family was driving on an interstate highway late at night. Streaks of headlights and taillights painted the dark. For the first time, I realized that each car held people living their lives, lives as important to them as mine was to me.

I wanted to see what those lives were, and to share my own…

Here, each Monday, I strive to reach that understanding through offering ideas and tidbits from my life. Settle in for a while, and share something of yours.

Here we are, already knocking on the door to the last week of October. It’s a week where many people, including a couple who live in this house, are absorbed in thoughts of costumes and candy, tricks and treats, the spooky and the wild.

I’ve set up a few special posts for this week – I like spreading treats around. But that’s not really where my focus is.

There’s something else on my mind, as October winds its way to completion…


And, for me, November meansNational Novel Writing Month.

My first NaNoWriMo, as it’s affectionately called, was in 2009. My children were 8 and 5 then, and my goal was to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days – without being absent from my family.

I made it – with about 2000 words to spare. I didn’t finish my novel, Blood and Breath, but I had made a good enough beginning to empower me.

It was so exhausting, though, that I took 2010 off.

In 2011, I had no idea whatsoever what to write. I signed up anyway, and, on November 1, I started writing.

38,000 words later, I found the story. I;ve since divided it into two volumes – the YA fantasy, Chameleon’s Dish, and the interwoven Star Trek fan fiction novel, Bounded by a Nutshell.

In 2012, I had two chances to play with NaNo – the traditional November session, and, in August, my very first CampNaNoWriMo. Two more novels begun – Sima Garo Provides and To Be or Not to Be.

Now, we’re into the final week before NaNo 2013. It’s already been a banner year, NaNo-wise – I’ve completed a 50,000 word CampNaNo in April -completing the first drafts of Sima Garo Provides and Blood and Breath. To Be or Not to Be will be finished in the coming days. August brought a new CampNaNo, and I challenged myself to write 100,000 words in a month- 50,000 apiece on two new novels – The Stars are Fire and Perchance to Dream – which are the lynchpins of my interwoven series.

I’ve got a new WIP gestating. King of Shreds and Patches is the companion novel to Sima Garo Provides. I’m planning, essentially, to complete a double NaNo – an entire 100,000 novel draft in 30 days flat. Again, without ignoring the fact that I live with people I love…

I know, that sounds a little (downright!) insane, but there it is.

It doesn’t feel crazy to me. It’s an honest assessment of where I am and where I want to go. I’ve grown and learned every time I explore this challenge, and I come away with far more than a new work in progress.

  • I learn about myself, and what makes me tick.

  • I learn more about blending my passion into my life, weaving a cohesive whole.

  • I learn more about how my mind works, and how to use that to feed my creative impulses.

  • I learn how to recognize inspiration, when to push through, and when to step back and wait quietly.

My first NaNo efforts were unplanned. I had an idea, maybe a few pages of notes- and some scenes snippets that wandered into my mind to play. The good stuff is tangled up inchaos – just what I would expect, when I spent the month discovering the story as I went along.

Gradually, I’ve added more planning. For this year’s Blogging from A to Z April Challenge, I decided to write 26 flash fiction pieces that would form the framework for the beginning of my two July CampNaNo novels. That helped me to find the direction forward, before I began.

Toward the end of spring, I read Cathy Yardley’s Rock Your Plot, and used some of what I learned there to plan the beginnings of both novels. I felt more focused and less lost, without sacrificing the creative spontaneity that breathes free will into my characters.

In these last days before I set the first word to my new Scrivener file for King of Shreds and Patches, I am finishing my first extensive planning process.

Yes, the metamorphosis is complete. This spontaneous pantser has become a devoted plotter!

Life and writing can be like that- can toss preconceptions aside, and give new life and ideas. It turns out that planning out the framework of my novel, taking the time to understand my characters and their stories, before I begin, engages more of my creativity, not less.

This will be my most cohesive WIP -already, I know that. It has a flow from scene to scene that carries it forward, and the story has evolved as I move through my development. I won’t need to wait, this time, for the story to catch the spark of life and inspiration – it’s already there, alive, growing, becoming….as I am.

And that’s maybe why challenges like NaNoWriMo exist – to allow us to grow through play, to become more of who we are, to stretch us, make us strong and agile, to delight us with what we can do.

Do you have a challenge you regularly participate in? Can you see how you’ve grown into it, over time? Is there some challenge you’d like to try, but, so far, haven’t? What’s in your way?


    • Gretchen,

      I do love my Shakespeare, and Hamlet has been my favorite for decades. Ar some point, bits of it started to sound like titles that match the themes of my WIPs, so I went with it. I have a few more ideas, too, but I’m keeping them close, for a bit.

      Not many people have noticed. Brava!

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