Why I’m Not Participating in NaNo 2016

A long time ago, I felt that I had to participate in every writing marathon that existed to prove I “really was a writer.” I suppose I’m not really any closer to answering that question than I was in 2005 but I started toying with the idea of sitting this one out when I opened my word pricessor app and saw the long, overwhelming pile of unfinished manuscripts alongside finished manuscripts in dire need of editing before I could ever dream of doing anything productive or public with any of them. I asked a writer friend if it would be too weird for me to skip this year, even perhaps extending the no marathon time until JuNoWriMo 2017 if I haven’t cleaned up my mess by then. (Even if my mess is still looming by JuNo, I’ll do June anyway because thus particular marathon has my heart and I’ll always do it, just because it’s that special…) Because she’s sensible and efficient, the kind of person who wisely manages her time and uses common sense where many of us (and by us, I’m referring to myself) do not. After our conversation, I felt a lot clearer and determined regarding my decision. I will dedicate the time that I would normally use to create just one more unfinished project that will languish in my word processor to finishing and editing the pieces I have already started. I’m definitely cheering for everyone who does undertake the challenge, though. It is a beautiful, frustrating and transformative month. Once you start, you will amaze yourself and never be the same kind of writer. Best wishes to all!

Post Nano Planning

Now that NaNoWriMo 2015 is finished, I need to edit my 52,000 word draft. It’s the first time that I’ve written a complete story all in the 50K required for a win, but as I think back over the previous month, I know I have a lot of editing to do. My goal is to flesh out the characters, from appearance to more about their backgrounds and mannerisms. I believe that the flashback and flash forward style works because I enjoy reading stories like that myself. To move chronologically from beginning to end would bore me with my particular storyline. It works beautifully with certain storylines, though! 

I’ve also had much less time to write as I make my Christmas preparations. Last night I finished my entire card list in one sitting and am very pleased to have completed it in that way! Little by little, the things I need to do are getting done. 

So much of what I’ve been able to accomplish has been done through my new Theory Of Five Minutes. Too often I find myself wasting time in the day because I don’t use my spare, waiting, in between times to do anything useful. A few story ideas jotted down in five minutes, a note written, a stack of papers organized, it all makes a difference. Of course, it’s always important to find time to relax, even if for only five minutes!

I wish you all a good day, may you be productive and happy. 

Post Wrimo

I need to formulate a plan for all of the editing I need to do now that the summer Wrimo sessions are ending. There’s so much advice among authors regarding the editing process… what’s a writer to follow? Those of you who have your strategies in place have my admiration and applause, but perhaps you’re new to the multi novel editing process like me. Some writers like to edit a project without even touching anything else. Others alternate between projects or even mix it up between finishing writing one while editing a second. I’m not sure what will work for me, but since I tentatively plan to start a new novel on November, it would be great to tie up as many of my loose ends as I can before that time. The best approach seems to be one of abandon, to dive into whatever method you think may work for you and giving yourself freedom to change later on. 

Are you someone who likes to focus on a singular thing? Maybe the one edit at a time will work for you. I have never had much success in this category because once I’m done with a Wrimo I have exhausted my capability to look at one thing at a time. But maybe you’re the opposite way. 

Do you find yourself multitasking more often than not, as I do every day? I think I’ll start with finishing one project while editing another. And if I don’t get it all done by November, that’s cool. I need to remind myself that some progress is better than no progress, and if I have made any part of my writing better, that’s the purpose of my mission, even if I don’t finish it by a certain date. A dear friend of mine, author Rebecca Odum, tells me that she likes editing because it makes the book better. I’ve adopted this philosophy and dread edit times less than I did before. I want to go back and see what I can do better in my second look at what I’ve created in a delightful frenzy of thirty days. 

I’ll embark on this process in the next few days, and I hope your experience will be a good one no matter what part of the writing journey is ahead for you. 

My Editing Cave

I’ve often heard the term editing cave from writer friends. However, until this week, I never knew how much it could sink one into its depths.

I’m beginning the process of getting my first drafts from my three frenetic days of Camp Nano into shape for their eventual publication as a collection, Marble Halls. I chose my second story first, as I rarely do anything in the conventional way. Upon beginning, I was very mistaken to think that editing a story of less than a thousand words would be any less exhaustive than editing a four hundred page novel.

At first glance, I saw typos and all things glaringly obvious. This I had expected. Then I sent it to a friend. After pressing send, the errors came out to meet my eyes again. With a sigh, I cleaned those up, too. Finally! It was ready to be filed away as done. Or was it? Another reading revealed more subtle edits of tightening the language and looking for repeated words.

It was tedious work, but as I waded through my manuscript, something Rebecca Odum said to me came to mind. She told me that she likes to edit in order to make the writing the very best it can possibly become. As I reviewed my now thrice-edited short story, I felt a surge of pride which would have been impossible with either Version One or Version Two. Yes, the editing cave is deep and long, but it makes things better. And isn’t that what we ought to be about, as writers?

Later on, I’ll be heading back into the editing cave again to give the same treatment to each of my original pieces, as well as those I add to the post nano collection. This time, I’ll understand more closely why I’m doing the task, Herculean though it may appear. Creating, at least for me, is full of gleeful inspiration, but making it the best it can possibly become is why I’m proud to have created it.