Thank Goodness It’s Over!: Reflections on NaNoWriMo 2015

What. A. Month.

#PitchWars agent round. Tons of querying. An R&R request. And, oh yeah… a little thing called NaNoWriMo.

madness

This was my first year as an Municipal Liaison for National Novel Writing Month, and it was pretty great. Stressful, busy, but fun and rewarding. MLing took up a lot more of my time than I anticipated, so even though I was attending 2-3 write-ins per week, I still struggled to meet the daily word count. That honestly had less to do with my ML duties than with my story problems, though.

There’s a point at which I know a story is ready to be written. I do lots of outlining, worldbuilding, and character development before I even start, but I really know a story is ready when I’m about 5-10k words in and I find myself thinking about the characters constantly when I’m not writing. I play out conversations in my mind, imagine how they’re going to react to events that I know are coming, bounce them off each other and see how they relate. The mechanics of the story can all be totally solid, but if the characters aren’t talking to each other in my head, then the story isn’t going to happen, no matter how I try to force it.

That probably sounds kind of woo woo, but I’m serious. If that’s not there, the story falls apart. And this point was proved all over again this November.

I really, really wanted to write my next YA space opera during NaNoWriMo. I wanted it so bad, and I planned and outlined and figured out tech. But the characters were boring, especially compared to my beloved Rejects, who I’d so recently finished revising. They weren’t talking to me. I forced myself all the way to the 25k mark before finally throwing in the towel on that story. It’s not ready. I love the concept, and I’ll write it one day soon, but now’s not the time.

I thought part of the problem might have been that I’d so recently finished editing Space Academy Rejects and I was having trouble getting that voice out my head. The new space opera had next to nothing in common with Rejects, but I couldn’t get the taste out of my mouth. So, I did something a bit… maybe ill-advised?

sherlock bluuuh

I decided to go for a palette cleanser. I had an adult M/M romance I’d outlined over a year ago, and with 25k words still to write for NaNoWriMo, I figured—what the hell, right? May as well write something completely different to give my brain a reset, then try another YA space opera after the holidays. And it was fantastic! It’s great to stretch writing muscles I don’t use as often and study the conventions of another genre. I had so much fun with it. In fact, I had originally decided to ditch my NaNo project altogether after I got the R&R request, but then I was waiting on feedback anyway and going crazy thinking about it.

So, there I was: November 29th, sitting at just under 37k words. I. Lost. My. Mind. And I beasted out a win at 10pm on November 30th.

Tenzin-Woohoo

See the crazy things that can happen when your characters talk to you in your head?

So now, here I am, early December, armed with tons of new feedback on Space Academy Rejects and diving straight from NaNo into this R&R (with an unreasonably ambitious self-assigned deadline because, hey, I’m me). I’m ready for this. And hey, if you see someone wandering around with coffee in a drip bag, please send them my way.

In my free time (hahahaha!)  over the next few weeks, I’ll also be indulging in one of my favorite holiday traditions: LGBT holiday romances. There’s just nothing like a fire, hot cocoa, and first kisses for the chilly winter months. Got any recs for me? Let me know in the comments! 

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