Thursday, 29 November 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012: Celebrate or Sink without trace?

50,000 words is an awful lot of writing...but honestly, I knew that before I started.

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is a challenge to write a novel in a month - or, more accurately, 50,000 words in November. I am not writing a novel but a memoir of my family's time living in Zambia. I have already completed writing the first book (In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree) but I'd always held plans for a trilogy, so I thought I would take this opportunity to work on Book 2.

Above all, what I wanted to do with the month was to reinstate writing into my life. To that end I had a private target of 30,000 words, or 1000 words a day on average. Achievable? Possibly. But I have learnt some lessons along the way.

Here is what I have discovered in the last month:

1  I love writing. When the subject matter flows it is the most enjoyable discipline.

2  It also appears I love editing, as all I am wanting to do now is go over all my writing and correct it!

3  I can maintain the discipline of writing 1,667 words a day for two weeks, then it rather goes to pot. I have excuses, with matters that have occurred within the family and other commitments that I have to fulfill, but after working at it very hard for two weeks my brain was a little frazzled and all I really wanted to do was to have a rest. So I did. (For about a week, which is too long!)

4  It is easy to get distracted, even by your own writing. I have spent a happy hour or two (ahem!) looking up information about railways in Zambia, maps of road journeys we took, and tried (unsuccessfully) to find the book I had about President Mobutu of Zaire/the Democratic Republic of Congo.

5  It turns out I can type drivel for hours, if necessary. If you have a word count to aim for then I recommend throwing in every adverb and adjective you can think of. The quality of writing falls, but you get nearer the goal! (Some sentences are really good - honest!).

6  I am itching to put together all the oddments of writing that I have done for this second book, to lay them in some sort of coherent order and try to develop a storyline that is enticing. At the moment I have a series of stories, each interesting in their own right but they don't drive the reading of the book. A lot of printing and cutting, copying & pasting are in order!

6  Above all, I'd like to get In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree published. One of the many NaNoWriMo distractions was to write the blurb for the back cover of the book, which I am so excited about. I need to double check my manuscript and tighten up on the layout. It is all so nearly, nearly there... but needs time devoted to it for its completion.

So, after 27 days of writing as if my life depended on it I have stopped.

Technically, I am a NaNoWriMo failure.

But I know I'm not a failure. Although I would have loved to reach their 50,000 word target I had set myself a lower target which I have achieved! When I put my pen down (figuratively: actually I walked away from the keyboard) on Tuesday evening I had completed 30,158 words - slightly above my private target of 30,000! I am absolutely delighted with this.

Furthermore, I know that if I combine that with the 23,000 words or so that I have already written I am well on the way to completing a book. Given the amount of editing I know needs to be done (referred to in point 5 above) I suspect that I am about on target. There are a few stories to flesh out, and a few to reposition. It is all very exciting!

And - as if all that is not enough - I am very excited about the prospect of giving my blog a makeover, since little has changed on it for a long time. Keep an eye out for it!

More news will follow about the publishing of my first book In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree in the new year. I'm not so impractical as to expect that I can organise that before Christmas as well as everything else. All I have to do is look forward to that long, relaxing holiday over the festive season when I have nothing to do but sort out such matters... ahem!

In the meantime I'm off to open up a bottle of something to celebrate my November achievement. So, put on your glad rags and pick up a glass -  I cordially invite you all to raise the roof with me at my NaNoWriMo Celebration Party!

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