Just Call Me Rip Van Winkle

So, dear readers, perhaps you are wondering what happened to the writer of this blog.  Did she get consumed by a man-eating tiger while on a safari in India?  Did she find El Dorado and promptly get kidnapped and put in some El Doradian dungeon?  Did she fall into a sidewalk chalk picture with Mary Poppins?  Did she get attacked by Twilight fangirls for declaring that Edward and Jacob were both ugly?

No, none of these valiant things occurred; at least, not in real life.  Instead, she was writing a novel.  Again.

Now, here is the lady herself:

Greetings, folks!  It is I, Jess.  I am alive and well.  Like my announcer said in the paragraphs above, I have simply been writing a novel.  You see, November is National Novel Writing Month, which is a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel within the thirty days.  I participated in it last year (you can refer yourself back to my Backstory), and I felt compelled, naturally, to participate this year as well.  The result at the end of four weeks?  51,720 words, 106 pages, of pure gold!  And by gold, I mean… well, not gold.

NaNoWriMo was an interesting experience for me this year, on a number of levels.  You see, last year, I had planned excessively for the novel I wrote.  As in, I had already tried writing it multiple times in the years prior (before I knew about NaNoWriMo); and then, once I signed up for the retreat in Oregon, I basically spent August, September, and October making sure my outlines and character profiles were perfect.  This resulted in me writing a despicably boring book, to me, because I knew everything that was going to happen, and all I had to do was write it out.  No room left for the spontaneity of flying by the ‘pants of my seat’, going with wherever would be exciting to write.

This year, I concluded that it was a horribly bad idea to do that to myself again.  I spent a total of maybe four or five days spread out over several weeks to come up with what I wanted in the novel, and basically left it at that.  The only extra planning I did came in little spurts of ideas that I would quickly jot down in my notebook so I could move on with life.

But as I wrote I still felt like I had planned too much.  I think this is because I felt like I had to stick with something; and that something was the little I had planned.  I ended up beginning the novel with no inciting incident other than, “It was a dark and stormy night, so I decided to go on an adventure.”  Wow, Jess.  Epic storytelling abilities for the win.

What made it harder to write the novel was the fact that during three of NaNoWriMo’s four weeks, I was travelling the country and visiting friends.  This, ladies and gentlemen, was not in the original NaNoWriMo plan; I made the decision to go a week before I peaced out of North Carolina.  And this would have been fine, but for an introvert like me, it is extremely difficult to concentrate and be creative when there is bustle all around, and people you like being with are doing funny and distracting things… and, frankly, you would actually like to visit with them since that is what you came to do in the first place.

After the rough start of the first week, I was basically able to concentrate to some degree or another; and then I finally got into the flow of writing in the third week.  This can be compared to running or swimming a long distance: the first couple of miles or first 500 yards are ridiculous and awful; and then you get in the flow, and you can just keep running or swimming forever, and it feels great.  And, after spending so many days behind on my word count (and even coming down with a killer virus over Thanksgiving weekend), I finished a day early with almost an extra 2,000 words tacked on to the end.

That is certainly not to say it is The Great American Novel.  It is more like The Great and Terrible Solid, Visual Form of Jessica’s Brain for the Month of November 2010.  It is all over the place.  It basically has no point.  It’s dramatic, hilarious, irrelevant, rambling, improbable, nonsensical, and certainly Not Like It Was Supposed to Go.  But you know what?  It doesn’t matter.  What matters is I DID IT.

This is my second time doing NaNoWriMo; technically, my third, since I also tried to do my own NaNoWriMo challenge in June.  I did not make it to 50,000 words either of those times; in November, I made it to 47,000, and in June I made it to 43,000.   So, this is the first time I have ever made it to 50,000 words in the required time.  Needless to say, I feel extremely accomplished.  I danced around the house for the next few days… and now, looking back, I want to dance again.

So, folks, that is what I have been up to in my absence!  What about you?

And what’s next for me?  Well, getting caught up on blogging, first of all.  I have a few “Ask Jess” entries that will be popping up very soon in the future!  Then I’ll tell you about my 2011 plans… how’s that?

Happy Winter, everyone!

~Jess

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2 responses to “Just Call Me Rip Van Winkle

  1. What great energy and inspiration! Happiness in the air!

  2. Wooo!!!! Way to go, winning NaNo!

    I did it too, planning/brainstorming a bit this summer and then forgetting about it for a few months. I found that once I let go (and added random pirates), it was so much easier to write. And it felt soooo good to win! I also did a bit of dancing, as I jumped on the bed gleefully… My dog was very confused by this (he was laying on the bed) and a little afraid. 😀

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