NaNo and other writing FAILS in the month of November

Last month was a dismal writing FAIL for me. I didn’t get any farther in my NaNo book than the 10,896 words I started with. That’s fine, because that novel is going back in the freezer. I will consider revisiting it in 2014. Psych! I will not, it’s pretty terrible.

Not only did I fail to finish my NaNo project (which, in my defense, I said I might not be able to), I also failed to finish my revisions of MB. I really have no excuse for this except that the month got away from me. The truth is, I probably won’t be able to get back to work on MB until after New Year’s, because now that I have my editor’s feedback on AUT that needs to be my top priority (the deadline being December 31 and all).

Speaking of AUT revisions, I’m a big paralyzed. I’m usually pretty good on revisions, but recently it’s been difficult. I could blame it on my computer, which is limping along valiantly but will soon need to be replaced, but we all know it’s not Iphegenia Doubtfire’s fault. It’s my fault. Lack of motivation coupled with procrastination=three weeks until deadline and not a lick done.

Actually, that’s a total lie, I have done stuff. My editor said that there’s a character that needs beefing up, because they become important later on in the story and we need to see more of them in the beginning. Perfectly valid criticism, totally spot on, but I’m a little dizzy about where to begin adding this person into the beginning. So I did what I always do, I wrote a character manifesto.

I had written one for this character earlier, and since I feel like I understand them a lot better now I was surprised at how perfect what I had written about them fit with my current concept, but the manifesto needed to be longer and explain more about the actual events of the novel from their perspective, so I started over. I also brushed up on my psychoanalytic theory from graduate school, much of which I used to shape this character in the first place, and asked my friend Scott to give this character a new car, which he did marvelously. Not to be all Stephenie Meyer, but it’s this, a black Mercedes SLK (in the manuscript right now it says this character drives a black Dodge Charger, so a change is imminent):


So, anyway, the manifesto’s not finished but it is several pages long and very helpful. Now I just need to find a way to do the actual meat of the work. To finish my revisions in three weeks, I have devised a plan of sorts:

  • Read the manuscript cover-to-cover, making no notes or changes, just read.
  • Make my editor’s smaller changes (excising repetitive words and phrasing, clearing up small errors, punctuation, grammar, etc.) that she wrote in the manuscript margins to the digital copy on the computer.
  • Go through the letter and develop a plan of attack for every larger change.
  • Implement the larger changes.
  • Read through again for any problems.
  • Email to agent and editor.
  • Fly home for Christmas.

I’m not going to lie, it’ll probably be down to the wire. I leave for California on the night of December 23, so I have 21 days to get all this done. I know I could probably ask for a small extension, but I don’t want to. I think I can do it, if I put my mind to it and don’t get distracted. Hopefully, December will be a writing WIN for me.

What’s the opposite of progress?



That old saw is my way of segueing into a brief mention of the fact that it is Election Day, patriots, and even though I’m sick to death of reading everyone else’s blogs saying “Go Vote!” and all that, really, you should probs vote. I have a BS in Political Science, which makes me qualified to offer that advice. You’re welcome! I myself voted in California via absentee ballot last week, so I’ve got no horror stories about two-hour lines and (gasp) no “I Voted” stickers at any New York City polling places, which, can we make an amendment to the Constitution which requires all counties to provide “I Voted” stickers at polling places and in absentee ballots so that we can all enjoy our free Starbucks and Krispy Kreme like real Americans? I mean, for shame New York, Queens, Kings, and Alameda* counties. For shame.

You know what I realized about elections, though? Not having a land line phone makes you completely insusceptible to robocalls and real human beings trying to get you to vote one way or the other. Hot! I’m never getting a land line, even if that urban legend Kim told me about how if I needed 911 my call would get rerouted to California because of my cell phone’s area code, which I don’t actually believe because of the apparent existence of satellite technology and stuff, is true.

Speaking of progress, I have almost 11,000 words of my NaNo project done. You can read an excerpt here, but let me warn you that A. it’s awful, and B. I probably won’t ever try to publish it, and C. it’s an experiment with voice and POV that is teaching me a lot, plus I’m trying on this sort of baroque prose style, which is a test of my vocabulary if nothing else. So no judgment, or if you must judge, do it in your indoor voice so I can’t hear you.

I am also–ba-pa-da-pa!–making progress on my MB revisions. 35 pages last night, who’s a maverick now? It’s looking good, and I really want to finish in the next week or so, because if I’m supposed to turn in a finished manuscript of AUT at the end of December, I really need to get cracking on those revisions as well. When I get my AUT revision letter from my editor I’ll be sure to let you know how terrifying it is, complete with a tears-per-minute ratio and the decibel level of my primal scream. Just kidding! I’m sure it’ll be fine.

*That’s the California county I voted in, for anybody who’s like, “One of these things is not like the others…”

Okay, FINE

I joined NaNo. I don’t know why, because I probably will not win, and knowing this I reserve the right to quit at any time. I’m doing this because I work best when I have way too much going on–for some reason, the busier I am, the more productive I am, so if I’m editing MB and AUT and writing either one of the two books I might never publish that I haven’t decided between yet, I’ll probably get more done on all of those things than if I was just doing one of them. At least, that’s the fuzzy math I’m using to justify doing NaNo, when really I just want to do it because it seems fun and other people are doing it and I want to be part of the in-crowd. Psyche, I don’t care about being in the in-crowd. But it does look fun. If you’re doing it, too, want to be my writer buddy?

Tangentially related: Is it me, or does the NaNo search function just blatantly not work?


Not that there are very many people who read this blog who don’t also watch the seriously made of awesome videos superbrothers Hank and John Green post weekly at their YouTube Channel, but Shannel reads this, so there’s at least one and thus I will explain a couple of things.

1. November has been arbitrarily designated National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo, wherein writers, published and unpublished, attempt to finish a novel (or at least 50,000 words of one) in a month. I foolishly tried to write MB during NaNo last year, but I think I got about 3,000 words in before I got a full request for AUT from an agent (not Joanna) and decided I needed to concentrate on that one…or something, I don’t know what the excuse was, but in any case NaNo was abandoned and MB didn’t get written until this past summer.

2. John’s book Paper Towns just hit the New York Times Bestseller List for Children’s Chapter Books and to thank all the Nerdfighters for making that happen, he took requests. One of the requests was more of a query, which was whether or not John was participating in NaNo, to which he responded that he was not, that he couldn’t write a book in a month, and that instead he was going to propose NaFiRoBIMSCOn–National Finish a Revision of Your Book I Mean Seriously Come On month.

3. I MEAN SERIOUSLY COME ON. Agreesies. People have been asking me if I’m doing NaNo, and I briefly considered it, what with the very supportive emails that have been coming to my inbox lately telling me that “I can do it!” and “I’m a winner!” and other niceties, but the truth is that I’m not at a stage with either GR or (gulp) SM to write either of them, because I’m not done with all of the pre-writing, etc., etc. BUT! I do have two novels to revise, or at least I will once my editor gets back to me with a revision letter on AUT, and really I do need to start revising MB. I have to do it somewhere other than my cramped bedroom, so maybe I’ll move all my crap into the kitchen on Halloween and take advantage of the peace and quiet that is all my friends going out without me* and sit down and actually do the damn thing. I wish I could do NaNo this year, though, for some reason, I have no idea why, so maybe I will make a non-serious attempt just to amuse myself when I’m blocked on revisions or something. I have two projects I’m thinking about working on, neither of which I’m sure I want to publish. I’ll let you know what I decide.

4. The good news about MB is that opinions are starting to trickle in from people who have read it or are reading it and the consensus is that it’s pretty hilarious. I actually got a text from my friend Katie last night, past midnight, just to tell me that she had finished a certain chapter and “was literally LOL-ing”. And, like, I can’t take a lick of credit for that since I have the funniest friends on the planet and truthfully I just write down all the funny things they say and then steal them, but I guess that’s what being a writer entails, and also at least I know that they’re funny and will be funny to others. Although, I’m not sure how much of the book is funny in its own right and how much of it is funny to the people I know who have read it because it’s full of Easter eggs and inside jokes. Whatever! I still think y’all will like it when it comes out in 2011.

*For the record, I’m not being left out, I’m doing a temporary Halloween exile because I hate Halloween. I don’t like dressing up, I don’t like crowds, and it turns out that I don’t even really like candy anymore (except for Reese’s peanut butter cups, which I will love forever and for always), which is sort of weird but I’m going with it.