Two years ago during an unofficial NaNoWriMo attempt, I wrote the story of one (traumatic, busy, change-filled) year of my childhood.
What began as a sort of memoir for middle-graders has been revised and pruned and expanded into a (too-long) piece of fiction about a twelve-year-old named Celeste. It's still not where I want it, but it's closer.
Most, if not quite all of the events in Full Moon, Half a Heart actually occurred, but they've been ruthlessly embellished and altered. Most, if not quite all of the characters are no longer recognizable as real people, not even family members and best friends.
I like that. It feels less gossipy.
This year, in my normal backwards fashion, I wrote the prequel to Full Moon, Half a Heart, also based on one year of my life. The year I wanted to be a detective.
(To be honest, I wanted to be a detective for more than one year, but that was the year I really wanted it.)
I outlined this time, using what I learned the hard way from my last book. The words streamed out, the way they often do when I have a deadline. I loved every minute of writing it.
Now, I've put Growing toward the Sun on the back burner until after New Year's, at least. I'm letting it simmer while I work on other projects and get ready for Christmas.
I miss it, though. Funny how one can fall in love with one's own characters, one's own story, in one hectic month. Letting my story rest is like hoarding that last Belgian chocolate: it keeps circling my brain, tempting me.
No, I'm not touching it. No.
Here, eat some celery and get away from that drawer!
(We'll see how long I last.)
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is what happens when over 300,000 writers spend November scribbling, biting their nails, and consuming way too much caffeine. The goal? A 50,000-word first draft of the novel or his or her choice.
(Or, in my case, a 25,000-word middle grade novel, three short stories, and the rest of my 50k in a long dreaded project that shall remain unnamed here.)
This is the second year I did NaNoWriMo but the first year I actually signed up on the NaNo website, and the first year I won.
By winning, I mean that I pasted all my words into a little text box, hit "validate" and watched the word count bar in the upper right corner turn purple. I printed out the winner's certificate, too, and claimed that winner's badge you see above.
I'll admit it. It felt good to finish.
In October, I planned my middle grade story and made an outline, so once I sat down, the writing flowed smoothly. I'll have to revise, of course. Whole sentences and paragraphs and maybe even chapters will end up in the trash bin. But I think I have plenty of good, useful stuff down, too.
Now, though, I'm not going to look at those words, not for the entire month of December. I'm going to let the words settle into the page, rest my fingers (from both typing and the aforementioned biting), and maybe even switch back to herbal tea.
As to next year, who knows. But I think I'm hooked.