October 7, 2011


Those of you who have done or are planning on doing NaNoWriMo this year will have already observed, probably with an impending sense of doom, that there is less than a month left until November. (Actually, even those of you who are not doing NaNo will have noticed that there is less than a month until November...) And if your mind is as obsessed with the fact as I daresay it is, you may have noticed that there has not yet been a single mention of the 2011 NaNoWriMo on this blog. The reason being that

I won't be doing NaNo this year.

Horrifying, I know. I feel a bit like a traitor even mentioning it. For those of you who don't know what on earth I'm talking about, National Novel Writing Month is an online organization where participants attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel in the month of November. That is, from 1:00 am on November 1 to 12:00 pm on November 30, when you cannot submit anymore wordcount updates to your account. You are not allowed to start the novel before November 1, although you can do outlines, character sketches, and the like, and the goal is quantity, not necessarily quality.

It sounds painful, but in reality it works out to 1,667 words a day, which is not as huge a number as it might appear. I've done it two years in a row (three, actually, but the first year was a failure, so we'll just forget about that), in 2009 with The Soldier's Cross and in 2010 with The White Sail's Shaking. I enjoyed both immensely, even though the results from last year were mostly horrendous and I barely squeaked by with 52,000 words on November 30. In fact, I'm so used to getting ready for NaNo that now that the weather is cooling down, the leaves are turning, and I'm pulling out my autumn clothes, I'm starting to get that expectant thrill as the countdown to November begins.

But I won't be doing NaNo this year. There are a number of reasons, none of which would likely be accepted by the organizers of NaNo but all of which I consider to be very good. The first is that I'm still labouring to complete the first draft of White Sail's, the trouble child that I have been attempting to get into shape since last November (although considering what bare scraps of plot I began with, I have to say that this story is in surprisingly good form). I am not one of those people who can juggle several stories at once; though I may write bits and pieces of a Tempus Regina or a Sunshine and Gossamer as I approach the end of my main work in progress, I have to give at least 98% of my energy to one novel at a time.

True, some writers do participate in the NaNo Rebellion and work on stories that they have already begun or that do not fit into the broad guidelines of the normal NaNo, so I could do that with White Sail's. But I'm near enough to the end of the story that I don't think I have 50,000 words left in it, and at any rate, last November taught me that this novel is not the sort that can be written quickly in a single month. The characters are all pig-headed to one degree or another, the history takes almost daily in-depth research, and my inspiration likes to up and desert me without warning. It's just not a good sport where NaNo is concerned. This is not an excuse acknowledged by the founders of National Novel Writing Month, but I think it is a valid one; some stories won't be rushed. They are the ones that are more like poetry:

"Poetry and Hums aren't things which you get, they're things which get you.
And all you can do is go where they can find you."

(a. a. milne, winnie-the-pooh)

I learned this after thirty days and 52,000 words, and I intend to learn from my mistakes and never ever do that again. There are novels that can be NaNo'ed, and there are novels that can't. And that is the way things are.

The second, not so grand or philosophical reason is that I just don't have the time this year. Of course the whole point of NaNo is to get people to stop saying that, but in this case I am going to stick my tongue out at the wisdom of NaNo and declare again that I haven't got the time. It's a combination of Geometry and...Geometry.

And the third reason is that after doing NaNo about three years in a row, I think that, little as I might be inclined to do so, it would be good for me to take a break. All things in moderation, after all.

But for those of you who are doing NaNoWriMo this year, whether for the first time or the fifth, I hope that the month will go splendidly and that you won't imbibe too much caffeine. If you are getting geared up for the fight, how are the battle plans coming along? Do tell!

...And I'll try not to be jealous.


  1. Wulfie's not doing NaNo! O.O *faints*
    I do understand your reasons, though. And "pooh-pooh" to the NaNo powers that be for not accepting them!
    I am going to be attempting again this year, though, with going down to Texas for Thanksgiving, I'm not sure how that's going to play out.
    I'm going to be working on the second book of my Faerie's Virtues searies, and hope the main plot will finally reveal itself to me in the process. ;-P Oddly enough, though, being in Texas would seem to have presented the perfect time to work on another story idea I've had. Ah, well, maybe I can just start the research for it, and work on it next year. ;-)

    Enjoy your NaNo break, and I hope White Sails cooperates for finishing, soon. :-) *snugs*

  2. "Well, the way things are stinks."

    I don't know Wulfie, but Abigail isn't doing NaNo.

    Though lacking geometry among its tackle and rigging, my proverbial boat is much like yours, Abigail. NaNo was not altogether kind (though hopefully not damaging) to Between Earth and Sky, and to a degree I work best under pressure... But I am already 18,300 words into Plenilune and happy with my own pacing, and this year NaNo doesn't hold its allure for me. I need time to study and write, and NaNo doesn't leave time for studying. As you said, NaNo is all about quantity, not quality, and I'm just not happy with that motto. I want to get to the end of my novel and know I have done the best I can, not know I have successfully churned out 50,000 words of dubious import.

    I'll clink glasses of cider with you and toast our NoNaNoNess.

  3. Thanks, Rhoswen! I hope you can manage to fit some writing time into your schedule: it sounds busy!

    I think it's possible to do NaNo and still maintain quality in your writing, but you have to really plan ahead and already know where you're heading with the story. And White Sail's...wasn't planned so much. I think what you produced for Between Earth and Sky was great, but of course I'm not the writer and you're probably the best judge of its quality.

    Besides, I don't really have a good novel for NaNo this year. Tempus Regina is still too hazy, and Sunshine and Gossamer is too light a story to be hustled through NaNo. So I suppose you and I can just put our feet up and see what next year brings us.

  4. I don't think I could do NaNo if I tried. I'm more of a thinker-er and ponder-er. I like to put thought and time into words; I like them to to sing like poetry. I like them to breathe with an otherworldliness that transports me so fully into another time that I forget I'm reading my own little scribbles, and suddenly I am in the midst of them, living them.

    Well. I try, anyway. And I like to at least have the time to try. :P

    But, really, I don't have time in my studies to attempt the great feat that is NaNo. Maybe, maybe I will try next year when I'm either in my first semester of college, or floating between HS graduation and the first semester of college... I'd like to try it someday, just to see if I could do it. Not with Lara's Story, though. That would be a first class disaster and I would fail utterly. As you say, "There are novels that can be NaNo'ed, and there are novels that can't. And that is the way things are." Lara's Story, I know, is not one to be rushed through.

  5. Oh, oh - thank you for your sweet and cheer-filled comment on my bloggy. ^.^ I await Wordcrafter with great anticipation and excitement!

  6. Aw, too bad. :) Although those reasons sound perfectly valid to me. :D

    I'm planning on doing it again. It's good for me. Last year I wrote 10,000 words on the last day -- hopefully I'll pace myself better this year!

    I'm doing another Western. Different from the sci-fi I usually write, but I like to use NaNo as a time to try branching out and see what happens. :)

  7. I always think that people are awfully brave to do NaNo. If I ever did it, I could probably only handle it for one year. Well done on the previous years, though, Wulfie, and I'm looking forward to White Sails Shaking.
    This is silkdash, here, or Bethany, in case you didn't know.

  8. Katie - I can't really see you doing NaNo, at least with the stories of yours that I've read. Like you said, they're so thoughtful - so introspective and easy, like sunshine. They're the stories that have to flow at the speed that they want to. Sunshine and Gossamer is like that. (I think you'll like that one, when I have it written up.) But NaNo'd or not, I hope Lara's Story comes easily to you this Fall and doesn't give you any grief.

    Grace - Ooh, a Western? That sounds fun and different. Some people are able to churn out a large chunk of writing in a single day - in a single hour, sometimes. That's another thing that I find interesting about NaNo: it really shows you what you're capable of. That may be why I enjoy it so much, because it was what showed me that I could actually write a full novel.

    Bethany - I think maybe people look at NaNo as more intimidating than it really is. It's more a matter of pacing yourself and not making excuses than it is a matter of flying along all month at breakneck speed. 50,000 words is surprisingly doable! Not that everyone can manage that amid other obligations, or ought to try, but it's not as terrifying as it sounds.

  9. Here I was, hunching down over my tea in wary-eyed shame, taking care to shield any observers from the sight of my outline-less monitor and blank Word Documents. With an ocean of classes and seasonal projects for various causes, I'm still taking my spare time to edit Wreaths, and that is quite enough for me.

    Still, here with autumn's haze of amber and shadows creeping over us, November shall always be November. I feel as though last year I dumped out a big chest of jewels, and this autumn I'm polishing the jewels and setting them in black velvet. The scattering is exhilerating, but only by plopping oneself in the midst of it all and caring for every jewel can one really feel the thrill of every different facet, hue, and shape.

    We'll sort our stars together, you and me, me and you. ^.^

  10. "You and I, man, you and I!" to quote Agatha Christie.

    I love autumn. Summer is just a long, slow season however you look at it; it's difficult to be inspired when the thermometer reads 98 degrees outside. Now I feel like I'm actually doing something. It's good to know that you're participating in our non-participation as well.

    Hurrah for you and your word-jewels! I think I'm scattering right now rather than polishing, but at least I feel like the gems aren't as flawed now as the previous ones were. Well, perhaps we'll find time and space to do NaNo next year.


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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