For the five years that 2020 has lasted, I find it hard to believe that the year is almost over! It feels like just yesterday, it was Halloween. Now we’ve moved right into Christmas season, and I have to admit, the last thing I want to do is decorate. It’s been a tough year. I’m really glad that it’s almost over.
In my last blog update, I outlined that I wanted to write an adult fantasy novel. The normal goal for NaNo is 50,000, but I set my goal slightly higher than that at 75,000. Another personal goal was that I wanted to see if I could write a project that was entirely one perspective. Too often, I’ve leaned on having multiple perspectives to get my word counts up. I challenged myself to do 75,000 of just one character.
If I’m being honest, that was a very scary to me.
What if I couldn’t do it? What if my main character wasn’t well rounded enough or interesting enough to write that many words? What if, like last year, I started hot and immediately flopped within a couple of days?
Imposter syndrome, am I right?
So? Did I do it?
I started NaNo a few days early. I was scheduled to have a small surgical procedure done within the first week of November, and given that this was my first ever surgery, I didn’t know how I would do. I gave myself a little breathing room so that in case things went south, I’d be able to get back into the swing of things. So before November 1, I wrote 12,000 words.
I kept up with the daily minimum until my surgery. And even for a couple of days after, I wrote a word or two, just to be able to log in and get that coveted badge of updating my word count every day. Yeah, that didn’t happen.
Though it was a small procedure, surgery knocked me on my butt for a week. By the end of that week, I still wasn’t 100% myself, but I knew if I didn’t jump back into the manuscript, I was going to lose. I didn’t want to lose. I struggled at first, but I managed to get caught up to my minimum counts (2,500 each day). I’ve always struggled with the second act of a story leading up to the midpoint. That was the same here. It felt like the story was barely moving along.
Then I hit the midpoint.
And I wrote 15,000 words in a single weekend.
While it was completely exhausting, it was also absolutely exhilarating to just be able to sit and write and not worry about anything else. With COVID all around us, I’ve opted to staying at home even more than usual (which is a lot, considering that I am a homebody), and it made it easier for me to get my words done.
I also found that it was easier to bang out my words right after I got home from work, instead of waiting until later in the evening.
And now, for the finale: I finished NaNo on Thanksgiving (another almost 10,000 word day!), and came in right at 75,000 words.
Honestly, first drafts are always crap. It’s in the revisions that you find the story and refine the characters, but I have to say, I am really happy with most of it.
I haven’t written an entirely new project in nearly five years. I’d forgotten what it was like for a story to take over and the characters to do things on their own. If this gets picked up, I have a main character for the second book that showed up in book one when I never even planned for it. I had a big character reveal planned for the ending, but guess what? It happened at the midpoint, because it felt natural for the characters to do those things when they did. I love drafting solely because it’s fun to watch characters jump off of the page.
However, drafting is hard if you haven’t prepped, and let me tell you, I prepped. I wouldn’t have made it through 50K, much less 75K if it weren’t for all of the prep work I did in October and November. I built the world, I read Save the Cat!, I explored the lore and religion behind the main character. I read comparative titles (From Blood & Ash being one of them). If I hadn’t done all of that, there is no way I would have finished.
One key takeaway for me: taking a couple of mental health days is OKAY! I used to beat myself up each day that I didn’t feel like writing, but even during NaNo, there were a couple of times that I needed a break from writing, from life, from everything. I still managed to get my words. I can only push so hard for so long, and I am so glad that I took that time, because I feel like the work wouldn’t have been as good if I hadn’t. I’m not the type to write just to write. I want to write with purpose, and if I wasn’t feeling a scene or a story, I didn’t write. I wasn’t going to force it.
All of that said: what’s next?
That’s a great question! I’m so glad you asked.
I have two other projects: Halflife and Guns & Smoke.
Halflife has been the bane of my existence for so long. It’s a great project and has a lot of potential, but I feel like I truly need to step away from it. Honestly, I feel like the project would work better as a TV show, mainly because of its ensemble cast and the visual elements that are hard to write into novels. There’s also SO much to cover. I think I may try to write a pilot script just to see if I can do it at some point, but this is not a high priority.
Now…Guns & Smoke has deadlines. Currently, my co-author is completing her developmental edits on the draft. Once those are done, I am hunkering down to go through them. It’s going to be very busy for me once she’s done, but I am so looking forward to getting out of 2020!
And now, time for the reveal of my 2020 Christmas Card! I couldn’t get all of my fur babies to cooperate in a single photo, so I went with these adorable shots! Thanks for following along! Here’s to 2021!