I went into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) with a great idea for a steampunk novel. About two weeks and a mere 7,000+ words into it, I hated several of the characters and saw no way to redeem the main protagonist. He was just too weak and simpering. Luckily, I still had the rest of the month to develop a new novel. I was only two weeks behind.
Funny how life treats you when you’re on a deadline. I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people who tell me they “don’t have time to write” when there’s a whole thirty days in which to work. Would you like to know what life threw at me November 2010? It’s not so different from what any other writer went through, I’m sure. You can gauge the measure of a professional by what she does with those setbacks and bits of bad luck. She can moan and complain and turn them into excuses for failure. Or she can tell the universe who’s really in charge.
One thing I did plan to have taking place during NaNoWriMo: two online book tours. The ladies at Goddess Fish Promotions helped me put together an online tour for Problems on Eldora Prime (a YA novel released from Night Wolf Publications in October) mid-month. I didn’t plan for it to go haywire when some of the tour hosts had problems holding up their end of the bargain, but, hey, it worked out! The other tour starts tomorrow for What Choices We Made, Volume II. The launch is at a book party site of some sort that ought to be pretty cool! I’m giving away a book to a lucky commenter from the tour, so you’re welcome to stop by a blog and discuss the topic of the day at any time…WCWM II Cover
November 2010, I had two trips that took me out of town. One was a surprise for work that didn’t get nailed down until the weekend before it happened. So I didn’t know if I’d begin NaNoWriMo on a plane or in the comfort of my den. The second trip involved a quick weekend hop to the other side of the state for my cousin’s wedding. I intended to write in the car for 90 minutes each way while my date drove. At the last minute, we realized my date couldn’t get out of work, so I drove myself. No writing time for me! But I elected to get a hotel room so I could at least sit up all night writing in peace and quiet while staring at the Atlantic Ocean. Unfortunately, that weekend was the coldest yet this year for Florida and the hotel had not yet turned on the central heating. I froze and was unable to get more than a thousand words down. Doggone! Luckily, that was work I threw out anyway (see note about irredeemable protagonist above).
Throw in the daily activities of cleaning four bird cages and keeping up with a day job like everyone has to do with a surprise doggie/house-sitting gig that required back-n-forth driving (but the doggie was adorable and catching Duran Duran on the supersize TV did NOT suck). My day job is as an editor for an international trade magazine, so there’s a monthly publication deadline to add to the non-novel responsibilities we’re discussing. In November, I also worked on and helped launch a new website for a conference I’m chairing. For that conference, I planned the program and solicited speakers during November because, although the conference is in April, I need to get the program brochure printed and mailed in early December. I also met with a fabulous woman who’s taking on the brunt of the sponsorship asks because I know I’m weak at that.
Now throw in a couple of doctor appointments. I intended to spend the lengthier of the appointments with my novel! I took the laptop, fully charged, with me, but the nurse had a fit and forbade me to type, telling me the sugars in my muscles would collect in my hands and fingers if I used the computer or blackberry while I sat for an hour waiting for medicine to course through my body. Thwarted again! Next disappointment came while waiting for the technicians to wrangle up the results of my labwork (one appt) and scans (another appt) so my doctor could discuss it all with me (another appt that took two hours after the hour drive to get there). You can’t make this stuff up!
Toss in a 90-minute board meeting an hour from my home for the Naples Press Club. Another meeting I attended in November that took far longer than I anticipated was a writers’ group meeting one Saturday afternoon. I signed up before realizing, omigod, the networking lunch started at 11:30 and the business meeting ended at 4 p.m. That’s a chunk of a Saturday that I really wanted for writing!
Of course November has holiday overtones for some folks. I’m in the U.S.A., so I celebrated Thanksgiving at a friend’s house for a few hours on the 25th. I’m a Christian, so I prep and send out Christmas cards with a Christmas catch-up letter in them. While I got the letter written, edited, and printed early in the month, I had to go through and cross out a line of mis-information before getting the cards in the mail. Only half of the cards are signed, addressed, stamped, and in the stack to be mailed right now, but I anticipate the other thirty will be ready before Dec. 1 now that I’ve hit the 50,000+ goal for NaNoWriMo.
That’s right. I succeeded despite all the crazy bits I’ve listed here. I’ve not listed them to complain about them. They’re facts of life that writers, as well as normal people, have to deal with in any given week/month. The point I want to make is that we have to roll with the punches and work around crazy bits like this. You don’t succeed in life by giving up when a few meetings run long or a few time slots get usurped by crappy circumstances. You’ve got to suck it up and rearrange the attitude, the thought process, the schedule, the den, etcetera. Whatever it takes…
I didn’t complete Military Issue (which will probably have a name change before Christmas) with 61,296 words. That word count is enough to “win” NaNoWriMo for my second year, but it’s not enough to resolve Captain Jess Ukraine and Princess Anam Cara’s issues. They have too many issues for a 50,000-word novella. Criminy. But I adore these two (and their dragons), so I’ll be finishing up this novel in between the edits on Choices Meant for All and the edits on Problems Above Pangaea Moon so we have plenty of dragony releases to look forward to in 2011 and beyond. That wasn’t the way I planned it, but that’s the way it’ll work!
From Fantasy Author Sandy Lender
“Some days, you just want the dragon to win.”