Gonna shake things up a little bit this month, seeing as there’s only one book on the list. I think this is the first month I’ve had less than 4 books on a reading list since I started tracking. So, instead of just a book list, this update will also be a story of my NaNoWriMo adventures.
First, the book:
The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress by Robert A. Heinlein (audiobook): This is a great read. At first I found it a little awkward due to the character’s dialect, and the pacing throughout is a bit slow. But those are minor things. Between this and Stranger in a Strange Land, I feel like Heinlein is miles ahead of most authors in storytelling ability. One thing I love, love, love is that he will have a character make some small remark about social status, politics, or whatever else, and that one remark says so much about the character’s views and mindset, and Heinlein never repeats the point, and never draws it out. You get the one comment – and just the one – and either you got the point, or you didn’t. Which, of course, makes me wonder how much I missed.
And now, A Tale of Two NaNos.
If you don’t know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and the goal is to write 50,000 words on a single work of fiction in the month of November. That’s not an impossible task by any means, but so far I’ve failed to complete it twice. So, obviously it seems easier to do on October 31st than, say, the third week of November.
A little context:
NaNo2014: 20,135 words, day 22 was my last word count update
NaNo2015: 26,541 words, day 24 was my last word count update
The main difference between these failures was my attitude. And that’s attitude going in, and also during November.
In 2014, I put on my rose-colored glasses (yes, I can do that – although I almost never do, because fuck you), came up with a story idea the week before, and then proceeded to try and write the longest work of fiction I have ever written. (For the record I have never finished a single work of fiction longer than 5 pages handwritten, though I do write small.) I didn’t have an outline. I wasn’t sure if I was writing a standalone or first of a series. And I was miserable the whole time. Basically, I stopped working on the project when I couldn’t see what came next, and instead of trying to figure it out, I stopped. I haven’t opened that file since.
So for 2015, I had a plan. I was going to rebel! In NaNo speak, that means you’re not sticking to the format. I had some non-fiction projects I wanted to work on, and they were smaller and could be finished. I thought I might work on a short story idea I had in mind, too.
Did it help? Sure. I got 6400 more words, and I stuck to writing every single day. Right up until I quit completely.
Now, there’s a huge ray of sunshine here: I finished two projects, and almost finished the third one. I’ll finish the third shortly, and those will all be for sale (under a secret pen name) by Christmas. Dopeshit!
But I also learned some weaknesses about myself during this NaNo.
First, my planning skills suck, and I greatly overrate them. Project 1 had been outlined and was finished before I thought it would be. That led me to be woefully unprepared and scrambling to outline 2 and 3 together, and almost ruined my NaNo right there. Second, because the 3 projects were so similar, I burnt myself out way short of my goal. The burnout left me unwilling to plan projects 4 and 5 (I still don’t know what those will be – 2 weeks later the thought is still icky), and worse – I didn’t have a backup plan.
I think that not having a backup was my biggest faux-pas of this NaNo. I wasn’t expecting to burn out, especially if things were going so well that projects were actually being completed. If I had my short story outlined beforehand (that damn lack of planning again), I probably would have switched to fiction. Maybe I would have been re-energized instead of disenchanted. C’est la vie.
Also, allow me to gripe a little. November is a fucking terrible month for this shit. The weather sucks, my seasonal allergies hit like a truck a few days (s/o to Nasacort, y’all my motherfuckers!), storm windows have to go up, all the yard work has to get done, and then there’s Thanksgiving. Shopping, prep, turkey hangover for 2 days. Realistically, if I’m gonna have any chance at getting to 50k words next year I have to account for all of that.