Lessons NaNoWriMo taught me

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“They succeed, because they think they can.”~Virgil, Roman poet

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I talked myself out of NaNoWriMo. Kinda.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; that winner badge up there is authentic! I met NaNoWriMo’s 50K word count–50,121 to be exact–but I did not do it all in one novel.

I planned to write to write “Book 2” of my Draagon series, a trilogy developed in high school. I have most of it floating in the recesses of my mind, so it would be an easy one to slam out. The more I thought, it looked more like Book 2 would be a stand-alone book, with the first book in the trilogy would be a stand-alone prequel and the third book not existing at all. That’s fine.

As November 1 closed in, my Inner Editor spoke to me in his slithering voice: That is a stupid novel idea, it is too much like Anne McCaffrey novels, no one will buy let alone read yours, you’ll be sued for plagiarism, this is nothing heh-heh-heh “novel” to write about so don’t you even bother. Curse it, I listened to him.

Truth is, he knew my weakness. After releasing my Mom-Star Trek memoir eBook, I had a taste for publishing and I wanted more. Too many NaNo novels just go nowhere, and I wanted mine to share with the world. So I changed my topic. I changed it something more “publishable.” Or so I thought.

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Suddenly, NaNo Ninja, Snufflet and Finse inspired

I began writing a time travel story about a daughter going back in time to save her mother. I knew enough about time travel that I could work in my own universe rules, and I have this really swift ending. Problem is, I did not know what the story time travel moments would be. I felt a little lost realizing I needed to research time travel movies and books. I could do this, certainly, but without more than my one key element of going back in time, the novel floundered. My interest waned. I wrote my slick ending–an ending I still thoroughly enjoy–but then about halfway through, I stressed: how will I finish the innards of my story?

The answer was easy: don’t. Not at this time. Go back to your original Draagon story and tell that, the one that is really in your heart and fingertips. So I did, and the excitement came back before I turned on my laptop.

I wrote two half-novels, not all/most of just one. Not the letter of NaNo, but the spirit. In fact, while this approach is not traditional, I feel strangely empowered and extra-good about this year. I now have a second story, the time travel one, that is less intimidating to pick up in the future because a good chunk is already written. And I have a good start to my second-now-stand-alone novel, one that my husband says, “So you’ll finish writing that now, right?”

Gee, finish the NaNo story I started? What a novel idea.

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