Where I’ve been and where I’m going (NaNoWriMo may be involved)

Heavens to Murgatroyd, it’s happened again.  Shameless, hopeless, blog neglect.  You would be forgiven for thinking I was dead.

Well, I’m not.  But I have been  in a funk.

The Cambridge dictionary defines ‘being in a funk’ as ‘being very unhappy and without hope.’

Yep.  Little bit.

You see, I got some bad news about my book.  Not the ones you see on the side of this page.  They’re out in the world (digitally anyway) and people are being mostly kind about them (although I could do with some more sales, so if you feel like a light-hearted romantic romp, do buy one!).

No, the one I’m talking about is the one I thought was the next big thing.  Which WAS the next big thing, for me.  A longer, more involved story, dealing with themes that are important to me, that I researched to death and worked very hard on for a very long time.  I finished it.  Finally.  I neglected the blog and quite a lot of other things to do it, but it was finally DONE and I was happy with it.  I thought my big resolution scene was strong.  All of that.  My beta readers loved it.

But my agent, not so much.

Now, I could have ignored her opinion and of course, I was tempted.  But her comments were industry related and knowledge of the industry is why I have her, so that would have been foolish.  Tempting, but dumb, and I try not to be dumb.  So I was forced to take the comments seriously.

Hence, funk.

I am not going to go into the details of the crying and throwing things.  They didn’t last that long.  (It is possible that I am finally growing up.) But the fear that maybe I should chuck the whole thing and become a plumber lasted a little longer.

However, I am pleased to say that, thanks to my friends in the Romance Writers of Australia, my friends in real life, my wonderful husband and child and my own bloody-mindedness, I think I am out the other side of the funk.  Now, I have an idea, I think I know what I did wrong and I am all fired up to write something new which will put my agent’s objections to rest and, oddly enough, make it easier to rework the existing story.

I am also beginning to believe that anything worth doing will break you and that only wanting it really, really badly will get you through the pain.  I kind of knew that before, but with each step further along the path, the breaking gets worse.  However, I am not giving up yet.

So, I have cast off (mostly) the funk and I am throwing myself into the insanity that is NaNoWriMo – at least in a manner of speaking.  For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is a writerly piece of lunacy where writers attempt to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  The idea is to get a novel written in a month.  Or a draft of one, or half of one.

Now, I have never been good at word counts as a measure.  I write in chunks – a legacy of my copywriting background – so although I may write thousands of words in thrashing out that scene, chapter or whatever, I only count the ‘finished’ words.  So word counting tends to give me hives and is not, for me, terribly productive.  Also, for this new project, I want to have a stab at doing a much more detailed plan – which means that first cab off the rank is not word count, but index cards and brainstorming.

There is also the fact that November is a completely crazy month for me in my non-writing life.

But the discipline of committing to a much larger than usual output is, I think, useful.  I can certainly use a boost to my productivity and since I am starting something new and need a kick to get out of my funk, I am going to commit to productivity measures this month.

So, here’s what I’m planning:  During November, I will commit to working a solid three hours on my novel five days a week (given the aforementioned craziness of November, 7 days is unrealistic).  That’s three hours of actual, worked time.  I will stop the clock for tea making or any other kind of break and during my three hours there will be no internet whatsoever.  Nor will there be research or other time-sucks.  Just story work.  I will work as fast as I can and once my plan is done, I will commit to producing a minimum of five pages in my allotted time.

And I will (deep breath here) report on my progress, every day that I do my three hours.  Gulp.  I will try to make those posts useful, for the writers among you looking for NaNo inspiration (or procrastination) but there may also be some inarticulate wailing, should the day go badly.  There may also be pictures of flowers and puppies, for purposes of sanity. It remains to be seen.

For those doing NaNo, best of luck – if you get a moment to breathe, wish me the same!

PS: If you are doing NaNo and are scared witless, you might want to check out Alexandra Sokoloff’s fabulous blog for writers, and the indefatigable Chuck Wendig at Terribleminds. Just sayin’… 😉

16 thoughts on “Where I’ve been and where I’m going (NaNoWriMo may be involved)

  1. Crying and throwing things might be a good thing if it is short lived. Yes, I don’t do that because I am mature. I merely drink more wine, and hide in strange places for extended periods of time. “lol”
    Good luck with Nanowrimo!!!!

    • A good dark closet is indeed excellent for such times, but sadly, there is too much light in my house for proper weeping and wailing spots. And I must admit that my temperament runs more to throwing things… I do try to avoid family members, though. And visitors. Just sayin’… Has the shoot from hell finished up yet? Are you collapsed?

      • THE SHOOT IS OVER!!! However, we are now making webisodes to promote it.
        Nonetheless, I am back in Toronto. Three months away has made for a helluva pile of mail, missed bills (oops!) and house refreshing.
        My full collapse will ensue when they call wrap on the webisodes (Wednesday).
        My niece is coming next Sunday to help me celebrate my collapse.
        After that I intend to be unemployed as long as possible during which time I want to read 3 books. Yours (which I have just purchased from Amazon for my Kindle e-reader) will be the first! -Love Resa xo

  2. Writing is a difficult ‘game’… I published teenage fiction with Penguin when quite young then got busy teaching only to return to writing lately to write another teen novel, based on my daughter’s experiences with bullying. But my publisher didn’t accept the manuscript and I , shocked and mortified, (with great Mergatroyd and determination) went ahead with the eBook format 🙂 Good luck with NaNo – sounds a worthwhile challenge!

    • What’s the name of your book, Lee-Anne? I have a daughter in the demographic. 🙂 I thought about going it alone and it isn’t permanently off the cards with that book, but I have decided to restrain my impatience and try something else first. Patience is hard, especially for me, but I think it might bear fruit in this case. Best of luck with your new book! Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s truly the most encouraging thing to know that it’s not just me!

      • Hi again Imelda! My book is ‘So Not Funny’ is designed primarily for Years 9 and 10 as a precursor to senior school years (it has a focus on the wide reading of literature throughout), but has a very teen plot and characters 🙂

  3. Good luck with your NaNo Imelda! And don’t give up on your other story. You are very talented, I’m sure you can make the story work. I’m doing NaNoWriMo! Will see how I go this year…

  4. Sorry about the ixnay from your agent. My editor recently ave me similar advice and suggested I get to work on something more commercially viable like my previous two. Like you, I totally accepted the advice, albeit with just a wee grumble. The writing challenge sounds like a torture, I will happily avoid. I prefer to write at my one pace. Good luck with it.

    • Well, truth be told, DA, I write at my own pace anyway, but a challenge is good to get one back on the horse, so to speak! I have come to the reluctant conclusion that she’s right. I haven’t done justice to the story I wanted to tell. But I’m too close to it yet to try to fix that one. Better to do another and come back when I have some distance. Best of luck with your new work and with the other finding its home eventually!

  5. Imelda, good for you for coming out of your funk! Do not give up on your story! Nana always told me that good things take time. I think this may apply to your case! 🙂 My hat comes off to you for participating in NaNo whatchamacallit. Sadly, I do not have the discipline, nor do I think I have the ability to crank out that many words per day. I shall continue to hold out for a better way to help me get my groove back!:)

    • Well, you could always do it my way, which is very flexible (see today’s post for proof!). I see it more as a way of riding on the communal writing energy. Like the pirates’ code, it’s more guidelines, really, at least in this house! Thanks for the encouragement. I’m not giving up, but I am moving away from that one, in order to give myself some distance!

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