Winning NaNoWriMo 2014


I finally completed my New Years’ Resolution–of six years ago. In 2008, I aimed to write 50k words of fiction, and it’s taken me until 2014 to reach that goal. But I’m here now. I’ve made it. And what a ride it’s been.

After validating my winning wordcount less than twelve hours before boarding my flight, I spent the final week of NaNo at my parents’ place in the mid-Hudson Valley. I finally had the chance to go through my old room and condense my belongings down to one big, purple plastic storage container that will one day go home with me to Minnesota. I let go of my college notes and papers, tossed the knick-knacks from my junk drawer, and tucked away a few precious items to bring home with me on the plane: a sake set, handmade Christmas ornaments, and a good old-fashioned cassette tape with the North American Sailor Moon soundtrack. You know, the important things.

I also got to read through an old journal of mine from my freshman year of college. It’s amazing to read just how far I’ve come since that time, but also how I’ve stayed surprisingly the same in other ways. In those pages I relived a nineteen year-old me struggling to finish a major writing project, figure out her relationships, and pursue a pagan path, all of which are still relevant to me now. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as they say.

And what a ride I have ahead of me. I am no where near finished with 2014’s NaNoWriMo project, but I do have a pretty good idea of where to go from here. I’ve come to consider it my zero draft, and I’ve spent the last week or so thinking about how I’m going to start over, what I need to research and develop, and what I need to cut entirely. As I realized on day eighteen:

I feel like I’m slowly discovering the statue in my block of marble. Except my #NaNoWriMo draft is the chiseled out bits now on the floor.

I really wish I had read Chuck Wendig’s 25 Things You Should Do Before Starting Your Next Novel. If you’ve also made the promise to rewrite your NaNo novel, you might want to consider taking a few minutes to read that article and this one on 25 Things You Should Know About Outlining. They– in conjunction with Structuring Your Novel by K. M. Weiland–have been immensely useful in plotting my December 2015 plan of attack.

December came and went in a flash. I intended to get started on my revision, but even a week was enough to fall off the horse. Work has been busy of course, and then there were the holiday parties and the holidays themselves, not to mention the inevitable bout of flu–or two. Probably the worst distraction was the prospect of prepping for a new RPG campaign that combines elements of Burning Wheel, FATE, and my friend’s homebrew system to create a shoujo fantasy world inspired by my favorite books, anime, and video games.

One of the people in my Saturday gaming group calls it “magpie-syndrome”: it’s when you flit toward the next shiny before you’re done with the last. I owe it to myself, though, to finish with my novel. The finale for the Legend of Korra was especially inspiring–the world needs more bisexual protagonists. Layla, Ra’shal, and Cyril have a story still to tell. Wish me luck.

What are your big projects for 2015?

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