I keep forgetting it is December, probably because I finished my NaNoWriMo-ness early this year.

I do hope all of you who NaNo-ed enjoyed yourselves, regardless of how many words you wrote, and I hope you’re proud of yourselves because you should be.

All I really wanted to do myself was add 50k to this draft during November and I managed it in 21 days which was excellent timing because my last week of November was very busy. Look, word count graph!

nano 2015 graph

I do so love a word count graph. I should probably just make my own little motivational graphs to use all the time but I don’t think it’d be the same. Maybe I’ll just stick gold stars on things.

So the good news is that this draft is much longer than it was, the not so good is that it is still quite a ways from finding its end. It wants to be long. I am going to try to talk it into being perhaps just a little bit shorter once I find the end of it. It keeps looking at me and pouting and going “but I’m epic!” and then we have debates over the difference between epics and fairy tales and myths and regular old novels. It is consenting to becoming book-shaped, though. It is much more book-esque than it was even before November, and it is very much a winter creature so I have a feeling I will be sledding towards the end of this draft over the next few months and thus things will likely be quite quiet around here though I will do some annual end of the year posts.

I wish I could say more about the not-quite-book but at this point I can’t, really. This point is still alchemy and ingredients and I’m not quite certain how the finished product will turn out, exactly, not enough to describe it properly.

But here, have two sensory hints about it, early winter holiday presents:

Right now the new book smells like snow and beeswax candles and leather and honey.

And it sounds like this, a peek at the beginning of the ever-changing playlist:

playlist sneak peek

nanowrimo time again

nanowrimo2015-design by eric nyffeler

I have realized it’s been quite some time since I wrote a proper National Novel Writing Month post. I pseudo-participated the last 2 years and might do the same this year just because I’m trying to finish a draft and I do so love a wordcount graph, but this post is mostly a refresher about NaNo and me and my opinionated opinions.

First, info & links:

Some refresher points regarding The Night Circus that usually need to be cleared up around this time of year:

  • The Night Circus did indeed begin as a NaNoWriMo project.
  • To be specific: The Night Circus began as an unplanned tangent in the middle of a different NaNo project. I got bored & sent my characters to a circus. The circus was much more interesting than anything else that was happening.
  • I then spent an additional two Novembers worth of NaNo time on what eventually turned into 100k+ of long, sprawling, very rough first draft.
  • When I say rough I mean rough. I mean those rocks you use to scrub the dead skin off of your feet rough. I mean it had no plot and Celia wasn’t in it.
  • That NaNoWriMo version of The Night Circus bears little resemblance to the finished book. It was heavily revised and rewritten both before and after it was sold.

My NaNoWriMo profile informs me that I’ve been a member for more than 12 years which is making me feel both nauseated and old. I skipped a few years and I can’t tell you which ones because the site doesn’t believe in keeping my entire history anymore, but of those 12 Novembers I’ve probably participated during more of them than not.

I didn’t really write much before NaNoWriMo. I thought about writing, which is different than actually writing. (This is one of the great lessons of writing: you have to get the words out of your head and onto paper or screen.) I would write a page and hate it and stop, which is not a good way to get better at anything. I’d write little scraps of things and bury them under self-doubt and insecurity.

NaNoWriMo helped me get better. It took awhile, my first several NaNovembers worth of writing are terrible things that will never see the light of day but the later ones have some good bits here and there that could potentially be excavated. You learn a lot writing page after page after page and not having the time to go back and worry over how awful that one particular page was because there are so many more to write. It’s also probably one of the reasons I’m a binge writer and not a write-every-day writer, but that works for me.

NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. That’s okay. I still maintain that the word “draft” should be involved somewhere. It can be a very helpful first step but there are plenty of other steps. That “the world needs your novel” on the top of the official site that I’m pretty sure wasn’t always there raises my skeptical eyebrow. I’m not sure the world needs your novel but I think maybe you need to write it, if you want to. When I started NaNo-ing back in the dark ages it seemed (to me) much more of a personal challenge and not a means to a publishing-based end. Really I think it’s a writing tool. A crazy, autumnal whirlwind of a writing tool that you can use however works best for your own writing or not use at all. There is no one way to write, after all.

To those about to NaNo, I salute you. I wish you electrifying ideas and caffeinated beverages and I hope you discover things before November 30th that you didn’t expect to find on November 1st.

 

nanowrimo 2014

I’ve been doing pseudo-NaNoWriMo this month, adding 50,000 words to the project I’ve been working on. (Calling it a project and not a novel sounds much more appropriate, it is, unsurprisingly, still not novel-shaped. I will probably not consent to calling it novel-shaped until I have to actually let it go out into the world and be a grown-up book.)

I hit the 50k mark yesterday, mostly because I wrote 7k yesterday. I’m not sure how I managed that and also today my brain is tired.

Here is my NaNoWriMo 2014 word count graph:

nano 2014 word count graph(I believe the orange days are when I hit 5k, 10k, 25k & 50k. I had a busy first weekend.)

I make a point to not re-read anything I write during NaNo so I’m really not certain how much work it needs but some of it was redrafting older bits, so it might not be completely terrible. I’m guessing it’s 35-40% terrible. I am going to go back over all of it soon to rectify some of the terribleness. (I over-use the word “slightly” like it’s my job.) But there’s stuff that works in there, and stuff that I probably wouldn’t have come up with if I hadn’t been digging deeper in odd corners of backstory to make that little graph go up. I am, as always, a sucker for progress in graph form.

I’m delighted that I managed to get to 50k now with so much of November left. I have several other things on the to-do list that I’ve been putting off that I now have time for.

Winner-2014

To those of you still NaNo-ing I wave little flags of encouragement for you. You can do it! There’s still a lot of days left!

At the moment, though, I might need to take a nap.

 

happy hallowe’en

clue

 

Happy Hallowe’en, Blessed Samhain & a Merry NaNoWriMo Eve!

I am taking a somewhat Twitter-specific internet hiatus for the rest of the year, though I won’t be around much elsewhere, either. I will blog if there are blog-worthy things and I will do an end of the year post in December.

I am sort of doing NaNoWriMo myself. I’m going to attempt to add 50k to the draft I have. It’s probably going to involve word count math to get my progress bar to work properly. There are links to NaNo-related things in my post from last year. To those about to NaNo, I salute you.

I cut off most of my hair yesterday, shorter than it’s been in awhile. My head feels lighter. Maybe it will make it easier to fit more ideas in there.

halloween haircut

I realize that this is likely not that dramatic because most of the pictures of me on the internet involve equally short hair but it really is much shorter than it was yesterday. (Owl talon moon by bloodmilk, of course.)

So tonight I am going to have bourbon and mini Butterfingers and watch Hitchcock films and tomorrow I am going to retreat into my lighter-feeling head for a good long while so I can sort out what’s in there and figure out how to translate it into words.

nanowrimo 2013 in review

November went and flew by like a flying autumnal whoosh of a thing and I am sitting here looking at December somewhat skeptically. But I did have a just-barely successful NaNoWriMo, and I am impressed with myself considering how long it’s been since I’ve participated and how many days I had to skip entirely.

I stayed more on-pace than any other NaNo I’ve done before, mostly because I just didn’t have time to get my standard head start. I had lofty goals of maybe doing more than 50k but I ended up right on target. This is a screencap of my day-to-day handy chart from the NaNo site:

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 2.07.16 PM

 

I had planned at the outset to be all NaNo Rebel and work on two different projects but I didn’t really do it the way I intended. I spent the first half of the month working on a new thing and then thought about going back to the other novel-in-progress but decided to work on the new thing more instead.

I write out of order, which is good for me but not necessarily the tidiest way to approach a draft of something. So in the middle of all the bits and pieces I started some other pieces and I somehow ended up with about 15k worth of stuff that does not belong in this particular new thing. I think I accidentally wrote background mythology for an entirely different thing, but I don’t know what that different thing is yet. I like those bits, though, so I will keep them safe and fed and watered until I figure out what they want to be.

The rest of it is… not a novel. It’s not even a draft of a novel, it’s 35k of stuff that I might be able to polish into the beginning of something that could maybe someday be developed into a novel of some sort. It all needs a great deal of work. I haven’t re-read any of it yet but I’d guess that maybe half of it is useable. There are individual scenes and moments that I like a lot. I’m going to put it away and go back to the other novel and then when I have more time I’ll pull it back out and see what works and what doesn’t and figure out what I can play with further. 2013-Winner-Vertical-Banner

It was fun, overall, though I am out of practice and it was harder to get out of that self-critical headspace than it used to be, but at the same time I think I trust my instincts more. My favorite part was still there, too: the finding of things I wasn’t expecting, in that whirlwind of imagination exploration.

So, hurrah for NaNoWriMo, hurrah for those of you who participated and won, hurrah for those who participated at all no matter the result because you have more words than you might have otherwise, and hurrah for all the non-November words to come.

 

I probably don’t have to tell you all that November is National Novel Writing Month.

And you probably already know that The Night Circus started life as a tangent in a NaNoWriMo novel and was then further developed through subsequent NaNo-ing. (It very likely played a part in the circus itself being autumnal, since I was always writing in November. Also, autumn is my favorite.)

But unless you follow me on Twitter you may not know that this year I’m participating again, for the first time since 2009.

2013-Participant-Vertical-Banner

I am cheating. Oh wait, no, I am a “NaNo Rebel” which is a nicer word for cheater. One is supposed to start fresh and write a new novel and I’m not doing that. I’m working on not one but two projects, my already started novel-in-progress and a secret new something. My goal is to get 50k of shiny new words written between the two of them before the end of the month.

This is the most I’ve been writing in bulk in awhile, for a number of reasons, and it’s weird to get back into it. I am already failing at one of my old standard NaNo practices of getting a head start. I would always try to bulk up my word count on day one or two so I’d have that extra buffer of comfy words but I’ve been staying more or less right on pace through this first week, I only managed to pull a teeny bit ahead of daily average today.

I’m mostly working on the new thing, to get my brain into non-editor, no self-criticizing, just-keep-writing NaNo mode and so far it seems to be working. I’ve come up with several bits that are not completely terrible in amongst the stuff that is completely terrible but led to the not so bad stuff. (And one particular thing which is so delightful that I am far too pleased with myself and pretty much assures that I will try to turn this into something salvageable someday if only for that one fantastic thing that should really live out in the world and not just in the demented part of my brain that it sprang from.)

Here’s the part of the post where I show off my little wordcount widget:

And here is where I link to NaNo-related things.

This is the official NaNoWriMo site.

This is my official NaNoWriMo Pep Talk. It includes my best advice and tips and a tangent about a taxidermied marmot.

This is a post I did with other links and informative NaNo-related things last year.

This is a quote from that post, regarding people inevitably saying and posting disparaging things about NaNoWriMo that I think deserves to be restated:

I cannot fathom disparaging anything that encourages storytelling.

Get into the nuances of the issues or problems with it all you want, and I will be first to say don’t dare start contacting literary agents on December 1st, but disparaging the entire endeavor makes me growly. Grr.

And this is an Instagram photo of me and NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty.

 

flax-golden tales have been pre-written and prescheduled for the month (the one from the first of the month is, of course, for all the NaNo-ers), in-between blog posts will likely be photo heavy or NaNo progress updates.

This is, by the way, the tenth anniversary of my very first NaNoWriMo. I failed that year. Didn’t fail the next year. I feel pretty good about this one so far, but it’s only the 7th. We shall see.

happy nanowrimo!

Happy November! November is National Novel Writing Month!

I am not going to write a long involved post about NaNoWriMo. I will instead say a few short things and give you links to long involved things that I have written about NaNoWriMo before.

Here are the short things:

  • The Night Circus did indeed begin life as a NaNoWriMo project. In fact, the *idea* for the circus turned up unexpectedly in a NaNo project the year before.
  • I have not participated properly myself since ’09, though I’d love to do it again sometime. I did a single day of solidarity last year and wrote 5k or so. I am considering taking a handful of days in November and seeing what I can manage.
  • I do not and will not ever understand the general anti-NaNo sentiment that crawls around the internet, hissing, this time of year. I understand not liking that people query NaNovels on Dec 1 (there’s a lot about that in one of the linked posts below) but the general dislike for it baffles me. It encourages people (like me) who might not have actually sat down to write otherwise to sit down and write.
  • To reiterate: I cannot fathom disparaging anything that encourages storytelling. Yeah, I bolded that, even.
  • To all of you 2012 NaNo-ers, I salute you. I wave flags of encouragement and wish you happy writing and delicious snacks that don’t make your fingers sticky for ease of typing and I hope you surprise yourself over the next 30 days.

And here are links to things:

Happiest of Happy Autumnal Novembers to everyone, because I am all about the happy-wishing lately.

[enter title here]

This is what a book tour looks like in ephemera. In boarding passes and train tickets and accidentally retained visitor passes.

That’s not even all of it.

I am in something that I could probably call Tour Recovery Mode right now. It mostly involves looking at all the stuff that has been neglected in my absence, from several email inboxes to that not-a-novel-yet to the newly-home fluffy cats and not having the mental capacity to deal with any of it. I’m feeling really guilty about it, too, but it seriously took all my energy just to make myself gluten-free pancakes with strawberries this morning and I have been trying to write this blog post for three days. Make that four days, pancakes were yesterday. Also it’s dark at 4pm lately and that makes me extraordinarily sleepy.

Speaking of extraordinarily sleepy, Tessa is in love with the faux-fur blanket I got to warm up the sofa. Maybe because she so nicely color-coordinates with it.

I’m exhausted. I thought after a few days of sleeping in my own bed and not having to be on airplanes I’d feel better but I’m still exhausted. I think I feel worse, actually, that whole object in motion stays in motion thing, and that object in motion suddenly taken out of motion feels dizzy and nauseous.

I’m not sure what I really want to say in this post. I’m not sure I’m coherent enough to say anything, really. Here, let’s have some points in something resembling an unnumbered list, because I can totally not handle lists with numbers right now.

  • If you are waiting to hear back from me about anything, please be patient. I am only one person with a very overwhelmed brain.
  • My brain would be overwhelmed even if I were only dealing with book stuff and nothing else, but I have a lot of other things going on requiring brain time right now. A lot. I will spare you the gory details but I think the internet already knows I’m getting divorced and that’s just one of the non-book things. Life has a way of happening all at once.
  • I straighten my hair nearly every day and yet I still managed to burn my ear on my straightening iron this morning. This is likely indicative of how I’m doing right now.
  • I would really, really like to be able to write now that I’m a real writer and all, but it is baffling how many non-writing things are involved in being a writer. I did look at the novel-in-progress today and it didn’t look half-bad considering the unfinished messy draft stage it’s in, so that’s something.

Okay, I can’t handle any more list things. I think my attention span has taken a vacation with my short-term memory. I hope they’re somewhere warm with umbrella drinks.

I should probably wrap up this post before my typing skills and ability to form sentences decide to join them.

To those still NaNo-ing, I raise my coffee to you in a caffeine-driven salute for these, the Final Days. If you’ve already won: Congratulations!!! You rule. If you haven’t yet crossed the finish line: You can do it, you still have time! If you’ve already thrown in the towel: It’s okay, and remember you wrote more this month than you might have otherwise. Also, remember where you put that towel because a towel is the most massively useful thing you can have.

I am working on a proper post about writing-related things to cover some of the more frequently asked questions of late. It’s like a baby step toward having a proper FAQ. And I will have more tour musings eventually, possibly with photos if I can figure out how to get them off my old phone.

For now I am going to give up on figuring out what to title this rambling ramble of a post and actually post it.

on nanowrimo (again)

I know I’m late to the party getting on my NaNoWriMo soapbox, but I’ve been busy with revisions and most of my boxes are normally occupied by kittens, but since people are still talking about it and all the NaNo-ers are typing away, I figured I’d drag out the box.

I’m just going to sit on it, I’m not climbing up. I’m not really big on shouting about things, and it seems like a NaNo conversation should take place on a chat sort of level, so pull up a box and let’s talk about NaNoWriMo. I’m making tea. Also, there’s an analogy about birdies later.

First, to everyone currently NaNo-ing: HURRAH FOR YOU! I wave little flags made of colored Post-Its in your general direction and urge you to get off my blog and go writewritewrite! Or you know, if you need a break, feel free to hang out and have tea, but writewritewrite later. You’re awesome for taking on a challenge, you’re awesome for sitting down and writing. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

And now, you may actually want to leave. Because I can’t guarantee you’re going to like what I have to say next.

Your novel will not be finished at the end of the month.

Yeah, I know. If you’re lucky you’ll have a THE END at the, well, end, and it’ll be a novel-esque document full of 50k+ words, but it won’t be a finished novel.

It’ll be a draft.

Drafts are wonderful, wonderful things, but they are not finished novels.

(On a related note, to quote da Vinci: Art is never finished, only abandoned. But that’s an entirely different post.)

I say this even though it’s been said far and wide over the internet already, because there are apparently people who don’t get it.

For those of us who do get it… here, have more tea. The haters get frustrating, don’t they?

Here’s the thing: if you want to spend your November writing novels or knitting socks or doing interpretive dance about novels about socks, that’s your business.

Don’t let haters on the internet make you think you’re wasting your time.

But be realistic about it. What gives NaNo a bad name, what gets the anti-NaNo people’s rantypants in a twist is the people who query agents on December 1st with drafts instead of novels.

Don’t do this. Please. It’s like spending all of November hand-feeding a little baby bird and then kicking it out of its nest with a combat boot come December.

Let the little novel birdie stay in the nest for awhile. Give it flying lessons. Tell it that it’s a pretty bird, even if it isn’t. It has the potential to be a pretty bird.

Make it a stronger bird. It might take weeks or it might take years, but it will fly better if you don’t kick it out of the nest too soon. If you kick it out of the nest before it’s ready, it’s going to need therapy and it’s not going to trust you anymore.

Now, you may be one of those magical people who writes amazing first drafts. You are rare. I kind of hate you. Your novel birdie is a phoenix. Watch out, its nest is probably on fire.

Most of us do not write phoenix novels. That’s the lovely thing about novels, and novel-writing. There are lots of different birds, lots of ways to reach the same goal. I’d like to think my novels are more like… oh, I don’t know. Let’s go with pygmy falcons. Cute but fierce. Really fluffy-looking at first. Probably not on fire.

Has this analogy gotten out of hand yet?

That’s okay, you don’t have to listen to me. But I feel vaguely qualified to sit on my soapbox and make bird analogies. I do have a novel I started during NaNoWriMo (’06) being published in the foreseeable future. I wrote a long, wandering draft of it over the span of two Novembers and then spent a very, very long time turning it into something book-shaped and polishing it before I let it out of its nest.

And I am still sitting here making it better. It just has a lot more people telling it what a pretty bird it is now.

So to the NaNo-ers: Happy NaNo-ing!

To the haters: Calm it down. Have some tea. Seriously. And if you’re going to claim NaNoWriMo is a waste of time, I apologize in advance for laughing at you.

This is, most likely, going to be the first time in eight years that I won’t be participating in National Novel Writing Month.

I might decide to be insane and do it anyway, because I have an unholy love of the word count meter, but I really shouldn’t. I’m going to have editor notes by then, I’ve already got 30k of a work-in-progress going (most of which I wrote in two weeks) and… yeah. I’m not going to have time.

I’m sad, mostly because NaNo is delicious, crazy fun when not at the omgIhatemynovel phase. And I will feel slightly guiltier about stocking up on sale-priced Hallowe’en candy come November 1st.

I do love the pressure of a deadline, but I get my own deadlines now.

And I think as much as I love the freedom to writewritewrite and revise later, I’ve grown rather fond of revising. I do still love drafting with wild abandon, most of the aforementioned WIP is driven by wild abandon and stockings with seams, but I’m trying to construct it thoughtfully at the same time.

I wrote 80k in 29 days last year. I re-read it a few months ago. A lot of it is better than I’d remembered. Some of it is worse. The structure needs adjusting, the main plot arc requires complete overhaul. I can do it, but it’ll be a lot of work. If I’d taken three months to draft it instead of 29 days, sure, it might be in better shape, but it probably wouldn’t have all of those NaNo-induced, caffeine-haze enhanced elements like the carnivorous mermaids.

I think most of you know that the circus started life as a NaNoWriMo novel. Technically, it started in a different NaNovel, as one of those caffeine-haze tangents. I wrote circus-related stuff for two years of NaNo, ending up with over 100k of rough draft.

There’s not a single page of that 100k that didn’t change during revisions. Large amounts of it were discarded entirely. But that’s where it started.

I’ve said this before, but I never planned for NaNo. I’d always go in with a handful of ideas and see where they took me. Like exploratory novelling. And I always found things that I wasn’t expecting.

But I can do that without the magical deadline now. I think I’m a better writer than I was during all those Novembers in ’05 & ’06 & ’07. I certainly know more about how I write, how I revise, and what works for me.

I’m not entirely sure I need to spend November ’10 excavating a new novel. I have a WIP that needs finishing, old NaNo drafts that need major surgery. And there’s that novel that’s actually getting published, too.

At some point I went from a November writer to a full-time writer, and that’s a good thing, even if it means I don’t have the time to run with the NaNo pack this year.

NaNoWriMo got me where I am right now. If it weren’t for the magic of the deadline and that marvelous little word count meter, I would probably still be one of those people who thinks about writing, someday, and never actually sits down to do it.

So I shall be cheering from the sidelines for all the NaNo-ers this year. And should I ever get to meet Chris Baty, I owe him a hug. And possibly some discount Hallowe’en candy.