where the writers are
An Accidental November

Without really meaning to, I participated in NaNoWriMo.  It wasn't on purpose or intentional.  There I was, roiling with anxiety about projects floating out in the universe (where they still float), so I decided to start writing a scene based on something that happened one night. 

Here's the gist:  I'm in the middle of a really heart-rending, scary, horrible dream.  I'm facing the tidal wave, the monster, the bomb, the earthquake, the fire.  I realize that I need to deal with it, challenge it, fight it.  I turn toward this symbolic monster, and . . . my husband wakes me up.

"Jesus, holy cow!" I told him the last time it happened.  "Stop waking me up.  I'm just about to find a sense of completion.  I'm about to slay the dragon, and then, poof! Here I am."

"But you are making all sorts of sad noises," he said.

"I don't care!" I said.  "Let me finish."

So the next morning, I wrote up the scene.  And then I liked this character, so I wrote some more and then some more.  The next thing I discovered (from reading Facebook) was that a number of my friends were writing their November 50K.  Why, so was I writing a novel, it seemed.  So I kept going, riding the shirttails all my pals out there.  And by the end of the month, I had 54k worth of story, all stemming from the bad wake up scene.

Now, with all this said, I'm not sure what good these 50k words are, and, in fact, thinking about all the terrible drafts out in the world because of NaNoWriMo makes me--a novel writing teacher--quiver in her boots.

But the bottom line is that at least there's an outline, a beginning, a slightly fleshed out story that has now at 59k is shimmering at the almost climactic scene.  In a few more thousands of words, I'll be arcing down, and then, as they say, Bob's your uncle.

The thing about writing is that it's all good practice.  Yes, this may well be relegated to the eternal C drive, but no animals were hurt in the writing of this story.  No one faced obvious (or even dream) pain or hurt.  It kept me fluent in the language of story, and somewhere along the way in my writing life, it will come of use, either in whole or part.

I will admit to thinking that churning out 50k in one month was sort of extreme writing, but I've changed my mind, even if I was in the shadows copying those who register and write with all that peer pressure.  It wasn't half bad.  It worked.

3 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip


Interesting!  But nobody does NaNo by accident.

Comment Bubble Tip

Fascinating.  Like you, I

Fascinating.  Like you, I always thought NaNoWriMo was a dubious undertaking.  But then I decided to give it a shot in November 2008.  I figured it beat nail-biting while I waited for the January publication of my first "real" book (which took about 6 years to write!).   To my surprise,  I loved NaNo and have done it twice more since then.  I figure there's no harm (and lots of potential good) as long as you  keep in mind that it's just a tool.   One more way of producing what Ann Lamott calls that inevitable shi**y first draft!

Now, the real test:  Will you do it next year, Jessica?

Happy Holidays! 


Comment Bubble Tip

Thank you for sharing your

Thank you for sharing your POV on this, Blair.  And an interesting question about next year.  I don't know, really.  I did just finish what feels like the entire "really bad" first draft (at 75k) of the NaNoWriMo draft and now the real hard work begins.  It will likely take me many months to get it into agent shape. 

So the November push is a great push and needed.  When you have 50k plus of words, one is compelled to finish!

Happy Holidays to you, too.