November Reflections

I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about last month.

Most people have already done their National Novel Writing Month thoughts and reactions. It’s taken me a while to get my thoughts together about those thirty days. It was a fun time: I always enjoy hanging out with my fellow Lawrence writers. But it wasn’t a particularly productive time. I didn’t “win”. Officially, I gave up at about 35k words and three days to go, but I’m pretty sure I actually gave up sometime in October.

I didn’t like my story, and I spent a lot of time trying to think of something better to write before November kicked off. Unfortunately, nothing else really stuck with me, so I went with what I had. I never got the hang of the story. The goal was to have a “real world” character, a protagonist in a rut of sorts, living in escapism fantasies. The fantasies were easy enough to write, three separate stories that followed the same basic plot points. Boy meets girl, boy falls in love, girl leaves, set in generic sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary criminal settings. But meshing them with the overarching “real” plot never worked out to my satisfaction.

Last year, my first Nano, was something special. I met a bunch of groovy people and had a great time. Just as important though, I had a story idea I was passionate about, a desire to tell it, and a goal in writing it. This year, none of those three things was true. It’s hard for me to finish a project that I don’t like. Heck, it’s hard for me to finish projects I do like (hello unpainted warhammer models).

My biggest regret though isn’t that I didn’t finish. It’s that I didn’t do enough to encourage my rival to finish (and she’s going to hate this paragraph). I felt like I let her down by giving up, rarely meeting the word count goals, and by not doing more every day to pressure her to finish. And for that I’m sorry. Next time, I’m just going to lie about my word count.

Next month, I hope to pull out my novel from 2012 and see if there’s anything salvageable. I think there’s something decent in there. Somewhere.

In his pretend life, August Baker is a retail monkey who channels anger and loathing into something vaguely resembling literature. In his real life, he is a Space Pirate.


  • I think it was a tough NaNo for all of us this year. I might have “won” but I don’t really feel that excited about it. I feel badly because while you may have felt like you let your nemesis down, I feel like I let both of you down, since I am the ML! I know sometimes a story or a month of writing just doesn’t click, but I’m open to suggestions on how to keep motivation and fun up during NaNo.

    I think, though, that for every bad NaNo I’ve had, I’ve at least come away with something. I’ve either learned something about myself, my writing practice, or challenged myself to write something out of my comfort zone, or finally attempted some idea I’ve been kicking around forever. Maybe every NaNo novel we write won’t be a keeper, but hopefully you at least got something out of the experience!

  • Ashes says:

    You don’t know me.

  • Amanda Jaquays says:

    I understand quitting in October. It’s what I did in 2012. I waffled about doing NaNo and ultimately decided that at that time I didn’t have a story to tell. I’m still not positive sitting it out was the right decision, but I don’t regret it.

    This year… I had a story I needed to get out of my head so that I could focus on other things. And it worked. At some point I might actually finish writing it. Do I like what I’ve written? Not particularly. But it served its purpose.

    And Ashes, he does too know you.

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