Surprise! Hi! It’s me! I’m a terrible blogger, but I have some of the most amazing news.
For the last few months, I’ve been doing research and taking strides to get my novel into shape. By the end of October, I’d started the rewriting of the manuscript. I had under 4,000 words.
Now if you’ve followed my blog since its inception, you will already know what the month of November is to writers. You can go ahead and skip down to the next paragraph. For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The group that organizes it has a website where you can keep track of your word count, message your buddies, and connect with other writers whether locally through a write-in or through the forums. The goal is to write an entirely new 50,000 word novel by November 30th.
Prior to November, I was pretty sure that I wasn’t going to do Nano again this year. I didn’t want to work on a new idea. I wanted to finish shaping up my old one and getting that gal ready to fly. I remembered from participating in Nano two years ago that there was a badge you could award yourself if you were a “Nanorebel.”
On November 1st, I decided to rebel. I decided that this month was finally going to be the month that I got this draft done. The entire manuscript needed a major overhaul. From story rewrites to perspective changes to new story structures. It needed a LOT of work, and my sense of adventure kicked in. For the first time in a long time, I felt confident about writing. So I registered my novel, made a pretty cover image, and on the evening of November 1st, I sat down in my library and started (well, continued) the rewrite.
What. A. Month.
I can’t even begin to express what the last 30 days have meant to me. For so long, I felt like my writing was lost, that I was lost. Because who was I if I wasn’t telling stories? For the last couple of years, I had been putting so much pressure on myself. The purpose to writing was being published! Right…? Wrong.
I can live without being published. I’ve lived for almost 30 years being unpublished. What I can’t live without is writing. Storytelling.
The month started off really well for me. On the first day, I clocked just over 5,000 words. Within the first week, I’d hit 30,000 words and I was feeling great. It’s been a while since I’ve actually had fun writing, because of the pressure that I put on myself. As I’ve said before, the beginning and endings really needed a lot of work. I’ve had a plan of what I was going to do for almost a year now.
Finally being able to put it in place was a lot of fun. Through this month, I have realized just how much that I’ve learned from writing to begin with. The draft that I sent out to Beta readers in early 2017 was definitely no where near where the manuscript needed to be. But in the time that I haven’t been writing, I’ve been reading. I’ve been seeing how other authors do things, and it’s not only inspired me but it’s helped me to learn where my shortcomings are.
For many scenes in the novel, I was simply adding depth that wasn’t there before. It’s like with each draft that I go through, I add another layer, and to me, that was a lot of fun. To see where my writing was and where it is now makes me incredibly proud.
What surprised me was just how much fun I was having. In the past, writing has felt so much like work, and I don’t ever want it to feel like it’s work. The old saying goes, find a job in a field you’re passionate about and you’ll never work a day in your life.
The last month of writing has felt like anything but work.
In addition to writing/rewriting/editing the novel, I spent a lot of time interacting with others participating in Nano, specifically on Instagram. At the end of a long day of work and writing, I would scroll through the hashtag and like posts, send other writers encouragement, and follow people. I ended up gaining a lot of new followers and friends through the month, and that has been great as well. It’s always good to have a support group. For me, I always feel better about myself if I spend time encouraging others. I’m happy to say that though Nano is over, I’ve made some connections that I’m sure will last when it comes to keeping up with the writing.
I hit 50,000 words on November 12th. A lot of the month (especially in the beginning), I saw days where I wrote 5,000 or more. My average on the month was around 3,500. Just like when I did Nano in 2016, I was reminded that I absolutely can write every single day; it’s always been a matter of making time, which is kind of like relationships. If you don’t make the time for it, it isn’t ever going to flourish or grow. I enjoyed writing so much this month that now that it’s December, I’m feeling a little lost.
The last two weeks of the month, I worked at a slower pace. My word count was going up, up, up, and as I neared 80,000, I was feeling really good. The second draft of the novel (that I sent out to Betas) had only been around 88,000. So I was confident that I could get everything done by going at a moderate pace.
Boy, was I wrong.
On day 30, I sat down after work and started writing. About an hour or so into it, I glanced down at the pages that I had left in the previous draft to get through so I could get to the end.
Y’all. I underestimated so bad it isn’t even funny.
Still, I promised myself that I would finish the draft in the month. While I didn’t meet the end until after midnight, I still count all of the words that I wrote between 6 PM and 2 AM on that last day.
My final day’s word count alone was 21,889. Some of those words, I’m not proud of. I didn’t spend nearly as much time with the details and a fine toothed comb, but the most important thing is that I finished. Around 2:11 AM, the draft was done.
My total word count is 112,894.
How. In. The. World. Did. I. Add. 20,000 words?
It took me completely by surprise. I didn’t think I even had that many words inside of me for this story. It had been such a battle to write the first couple of drafts that I thought maybe it would turn out around 90,000 or so. Certainly not over 100,000. I’m incredibly proud and humbled that these characters chose me to tell their story.
So now we fall into the “what’s next” phase.
My heart is screaming for me to start over, go back through, and begin an edit to make this a fourth draft. But my head knows that the smart thing is to give it a little time before I try to dive back in. I’ve learned a lot about writing and the publishing industry. Through many drafts of many different stories, I’ve seen just how easily you can overlook simple errors or miss key plot points because you’re too close to the story.
December is upon us. While it’s really hard for me to step away from this project, I’m probably going to take at least a week away from it, so that when I get back to it, it’s with fresh eyes.
My hope above hope is to be able to have my baby’s fourth draft edit done by mid to end-January of 2019. Then, in the early spring, I will be reaching out for beta readers again. I had four people read for me in 2017 and the feedback I was given was invaluable. The notes that I got back helped me to look at the story in even further depth, to make sure that the passage of time felt natural, and to really dive into the characters, their motivations, and the actions in the story.
This project has been a major labor of love for me, ever since it began. It looks incredibly different now than when it was just an idea in my head when I was 18. I feel like I have poured my blood, sweat, and tears onto the page, and I’m so excited to be on this road again.
Once the beta readers are done, I intend on taking their notes into consideration, then working a fifth draft. Maybe, just maybe, at that point, I’ll be ready to start querying agents. The query stage is always frightening, and can be disheartening. Following a lot of literary agents online has helped me to get a better grasp of the industry, and how it works. I know that before I’m ready to query, I will need to spend a lot of time researching the genre, seeing what trends are popular, and then trying to find a home for my baby.
What a month!
Thanks for reading,