Wednesday, March 18, 2015

2014's NaNoWriMo: A Success in Failure

So, in 2013 I took on the NaNoWriMo challenge.
This was not my first dip into the 'write 50,000 words in a month' pool. Back in 2012 was when I decided to bounce from the diving board and splash into those daunting blue waters for the first time. I had never heard of NaNoWriMo before and I was intrigued. I was part of a writing group assembled by a fellow writer, good friend and extraordinary librarian at the Vogelweh Air Force Base in Kaiserslautern, Germany. We were using the buddy system. No one was swimming alone. I didn't drown, but I only wrote about 35,000 words. I blame my inability to pound out the story I wanted on the fact that my husband got word that his contract would not be renewed and everything in our lives was upended by the daunting task of having to pack up all of our belongings, leave Germany and come back to the states. I have no doubt that those 50,000 words would have been written had it not been for this news. I was so sad about our departure from Europe that I didn't actually write again until the following January.

Now, you might ask if I met the NaNoWriMo challenge of  2014, to which I must answer....


Did I receive more bad news regarding my husband's employment? Were we suddenly faced with another enormous and expensive relocation? Was I feeling unusually sad or distraught and uninteresting in story telling?

Again, the answer to all of these questions is (thankfully) no.

I'm still a part of that amazing writing group...although now it's from afar. We keep track of one another on Facebook and I still support, (and receive support) from the members of that group although the Atlantic Ocean separates us. Many of us dove back into that NaNo pool together this past November...and I even had a bunch of other writer friends who took part in the challenge alongside me. I failed this time around for entirely different reasons. I was annoyed with myself for a while...until I took the time to think about why. Then I realized that the 26,286 words I wrote on my new novel throughout the month of November were really a perfect amount. I might have failed to reach the word count goal set forth by NaNoWriMo...but I learned a lot about myself and about what is important to me. I decided that writing that many words was really quite a feat, and instead of being disappointed, I realized that I am really quite happy, and that I should celebrate all the reasons why I didn't write 50,000 words.

First of all, I'm not a full time novelist. I do write a lot, and eventually, I hope to become a full time novelist. For right now, though, it's only one of my many jobs. I'm a homeschooler. I've homeschooled our two awesome kids for more than twelve years now, and I love it. These guys are my top priority, and I tend to do things unconventionally when it comes to home learning. I don't buy packaged programs. I have in the past and found that they don't work for us. I put each part of our curriculum together on my own, using the web, the library, workbooks and advice from other homeschooling moms. I'm involved with several bloggers, all of whom homeschool, and the better part of my day is filled with Algebra, World History, foreign language studies and science experiments. My daughter will be sixteen later this spring, and my son turned twelve...actually during NaNoWriMo month. :) They're very intelligent kids. They keep me extremely, (and happily) engaged.

We boarded this bus back in May of 2003. I haven't wanted to get off even one time since.
I'm also an avid reader. It takes time to read...especially when your 'to read' list stretches out mile after mile after mile. Since publishing my first novel, A Color of Thunder, back at the end of 2012, I've come to the realization that reviews make an author's world go round. I've made it a habit to review as many books as I can, and I've rarely been known to say no to an author who has contacted me in the hopes that I might add to their review numbers. It's hard to ask for reviews. I know. I've been there. I AM there. I will constantly be there. I hate to say no when I know just how important reviews are. So, not only do I love to read, but I also enjoy writing reviews. This keeps a person busy, and I like spending my time doing these things. I'm a firm believer in karma. You put good things out into the world; you work hard to do good things for others and eventually it comes back. If there's actually no truth in this, well, color me disappointed...but I'm a positive thinker. It might take a little bit of my time, but I'm having a hard time seeing how that can be detrimental. Besides...I've met some amazing writers over the last couple of years, and read books I might not have even known about because of my willingness to review. It's a win-win situation in my opinion, no matter how I look at it.

Speaking of those amazing writers, I was also lucky enough to be chosen to be a beta reader for a few different books last fall....specifically during NaNoWriMo time. There's no way I'm going to say no to this. I'd be crazy. It's a pretty special thing being handed a manuscript that hasn't been published yet and asked what your thoughts and feelings on said work might be. I look at being chosen as a beta reader as an I would never say no to. I love my own beta readers, and find them enormously helpful when it comes to my own writing. (Note to those authors who have asked me to beta read...PLEASE ASK ME AGAIN!)

So...I didn't get my 50,000 word count during NaNoWriMo. I'm well past that amount of words in my novel now, and I'm right on track for the completion date I've set for myself. NaNoWriMo might not have been successful in the way in which I'd hoped when I embarked upon it late last October...but it taught me a valuable lesson. I am so grateful that I have so many wonderful things filling up my every day...and because I had a goal in mind for NaNo, I did write nearly 30,000 words in November. That's a thousand word a day average. Not too bad. I also did a hell of a lot more than write in those 30 days as well. 

You might say I'm crazy...but I call my NaNoWriMo failure of 2014 an absolute success. So much so that I'll be sure to do it again next year.