This week. Oh boy. It was a fun one! and by fun I mean miserable and yet liberating all at the same time. Yes, that’s an odd sentiment for me to have about the end of NaNoWriMo 2016. Did I win? Nope. Did I get close? No way. Did I learn anything? TONS.
NaNoWriMo for me is not just about ‘winning’, it’s about practicing the discipline of writing. I wrote a solid 25,000 words this month, not to mention the book reviews I’ve caught up on writing in this week after I threw in the imaginary NaNo towel of defeat. So I didn’t hit 50,000 words. Last year I wrote a total of 4,500. This year I wrote more than 5x that. I call that a win in my book, and since it’s my life, my scorebook is the only book that matters, right? Right.
The week started off rough. I had driven home for the weekend for Thanksgiving, and I was spending the whole week there. Little did I realize how good I have it in Boston. My parents’ house is much darker than I remember it (60-year old houses don’t really have recess lighting), and since I was working at the dining room table, I wasn’t feeding the woodstove regularly, which meant I was basically always cold. Not ideal working conditions.
Beyond that, I finally had a breakthrough with the scene I was writing, but the cold and the dark sapped my energy, to the point where it was quite a struggle to hit the 25,000 word count mark. And that’s with my scrapped scene still included, by the way. Still, I can’t blame my failure purely on lack of warmth, light, or discipline. They all contributed in some way, but I was also missing something else. I was spending so much time writing that I hadn’t left myself any time for reading. My imagination thrives on reading. I had tried to cut out as much of my reading as possible because I didn’t want to distract or influence myself from or about my story in any way, but this led to one of my least favorite things in the world: a reading slump. Which quickly became a writing slump, and then the Thanksgiving holiday (and my entire family being home) enabled me to put off writing again and again until I was back in Boston, where I looked at my computer and felt, well, nothing.
There was no spark left. The reading slump (and very probably some hormones as well) had taken all my inspiration from me, and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. Instead, I admitted that I needed a vacation from writing (probably until January) because my family is super important to me, and the holidays are just too insane to get any reading done and still write.
I threw myself into finding things that inspire me all over again, but I also let myself cry. I cried watching the Gilmore Girls revival. I cried finishing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (review coming December 13th). I cried watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (twice. I saw it twice. review coming January 2017.) I cried reading The Boston Girl in a single day (review coming December 20th). Like I said, I needed to cry. Crying is extremely cathartic. And, now that I’m caught up on my reviews (I actually finished writing my last reviews for the year yesterday!), and I’m back on a regular reading schedule, I’m feeling much more myself, but I still haven’t found my spark. Hopefully, it will come back sometime in the next month or so, but if I have to put off working on The Everest Chronicles a little longer, I’m okay with that. I’ve had a lot of ups and downs with this book in the last 12 years. What harm is there in another few months?
So, no NaNoWriMo win for me, but I am 25,000 words closer to having a complete first draft! Woohoo! I’m pumped to see where my story ends up taking my characters. I have the main plot outlined, but the in between bits keep running off in new directions, and it’s exciting! If you want to know what I was up to during the last week, check out my notes below.
(Day) Day # – Goal/Actual Word count (Daily word count) (ahead/behind)
(Tuesday) Day 22 – 36666/24044 (250) (-12622) Having been gone for a month, I made a point of driving over an hour to meet a friend for lunch and then head over to the bridal shop to visit my old coworkers. It was a slow day, and everyone who was there was pretty psyched to see me, so it was a very nice visit. 🙂 (Wednesday) Day 23 – 38333/ 25347 (1303) (-12986) My sisters arrived home for the holiday Tuesday night, so Wednesday was dedicated to hanging out with them. I also had to drive my dad to the dealership because his truck was acting up. But I did find time in the afternoon to sit down and pound out some words. I’m beyond excited that I hit 25000! Those last 5000 words were the hardest part of the entire month for me, but I made it. I can’t say that I knew I was going to give up here, but I had had a pretty good feeling I was going to quit at 25k for the last few days. I just wouldn’t allow myself to give up before I got there. (Thursday) Day 24 – 40000/ 25347 (0) (-14653) Thanksgiving was amazing. On my dad’s side, the biggest family holidays are Thanksgiving and Memorial Day. Every other holiday you have no idea who;s going to show up, but on those two days just about everyone is there. This year, of the 38 of us, we were missing only six, and that includes the newlyweds, the one working in LA, and the group who went to Cali to visit the other side of their family. (Friday) Day 25 – 41666/25347 (0) (-16319) Black Friday at my house doesn’t mean shopping until you drop. It’s all about baking. We baked 33 dozen cookies in under six hours this year. We have six or seven different kinds of cookies that we’ve perfected recipes for over the years, though we’ve only made three kinds this year so far. While it’s just me and my mom and whatever friends I can recruit doing the baking now, it used to be my great-grandmother, my grandmother, my mother, my aunt, me, and my siblings. Baking day has always been my favorite. We also went to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Yay! (Saturday) Day 26 – 43333/25347 (0) (-17986) I spent the day leisurely driving back up to Boston, but I made a point of stopping to visit my friend from highschool who lives in Connecticut. She was my first ever best friend, and while we’ve been friends for TEN YEARS now, I still hardly ever get to see her. Hopefully, with my travellig back and forth from NJ to MA now, I’ll get to see her a lot more! (Sunday) Day 27 – 45000/25347 (0) (-19653) I think I spent the entire day watching Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life. Wait, yes. I did. It’s six hours long, and I needed to take breaks to breathe. I also found a church to go to in the area! Hooray! (Monday) Day 28 – 46666/25347 (0) (-21319) After crying through Gilmore Girls, I thought I couldn’t make my face look worse by finishing Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I was wrong, but it was worth it! (Tuesday) Day 29 – 48333/25347 (0) (-22986) I may have the read The Boston Girl in one day, and it might need to be added to my list of favorite books of all time. (Wednesday) Day 30 – 50000/25347 (0) (-24653) I decided to take a rest day. I wrote this post, and did a lot of ‘End of NaNoWriMo Processing’. I accomplished a lot this year, and I am super proud of myself. Even though I didn’t win, I think I deserve a T-shirt and a mug. Also the theme this year for NaNoWriMo was/is pretty awesome.
I’m not giving up in any way, shape, or form, but I do need to do some work to get my spark back. Don’t worry, I’ve lost the spark many times before and it always returns. In the mean time, I’m looking forward to diving into my reading list for next year to try and get ahead on my reviews. That way, when inspiration does strike, I’ll be ready for it, and I’ll have time to devote to writing without getting too far behind on my reading. Here’s to another amazing year of being surrounded by and creating works of art with words.
Until Next Time,