Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tweets from the Edge - NaNoWriMo 2011


30 Days Ago:
  • I’d like the mornings better if they happened later in the day. #coffee

28 Days Ago:
  • Time for @NaNoWriMo again already? Damn. Bye, social life.
  • Someone snuck in my house and stole all my plot bunnies. Bastards.

27 Days Ago:
  • The spirit is willing, but the flesh fucked off and went to bed.
  • I cannot overestimate exactly how badly I want to go back to bed right now.

26 Days Ago:
  • At teh bar, drinking teh beers.
  • This week is not going according to plan. So it’s a typical week. At least I found my socks.

25 Days Ago:
  • How am I pushing my #NaNoWriMo word count forward? Karaoke night, of course! #procrastination

24 Days Ago:
  • Need to write my #NaNoWriMo novel. Still. Damn it.

23 Days Ago:
  • Theoretically writing. Really pondering doughnuts. About 6,000 words behind schedule. But doughnuts are soooo yummy… #NaNoWriMo
  • Slowly going mad. Seeing word counts in my dreams. #NaNoWriMo
  • Brain is moosh. #NaNoWriMo Also, kinda hate @KalebNation a little bit right now. #overachieverssuck
  • Computer is either possessed by Satan or rebelling against the injustice of #NaNoWriMo
  • Someone please take me out for coffee and lie to me about how talented I am. #NaNoWriMo meltdown
  • I have misplaced my motivation. And one sock. #NaNoWriMo
  • It’s really hard to make microfiche research sound exciting. #NaNoWordSprints
  • Totally blocked. Going for some Drano and a plunger. #NaNoWriMo

22 Days Ago:
  • #NaNoWriMo is making me make bad choices. Backing away from the computer slowly before someone gets hurt.
  • Oh, the fuckery today!

21 Days Ago:
  • As I continue to age, I wonder when that maturity thing is supposed to happen.

19 Days Ago:
  • It’s effing freezing & I’m trying to convince myself to take a shower. But ZOMG it’s effing FREEZING!!!

18 Days Ago:
  • At the dentist. #PartyLikeIts1999
  • Long for freedom? Start with less restrictive underwear and work your way up.

16 Days Ago:
  • My youngest has decided to celebrate his birthday by pushing his luck. Hard.

15 Days Ago:
  • Impending madness?!? Where?? I don’t see anything! #TwitchyWriter

14 Days Ago:
  • @NaNoWriMo Where are my accurate stats? How can I obsessively update without the right stats?!? #goestowritebadbeatpoetry

12 Days Ago:
  • I am completely slap-happy, and I now have to go to a church meeting & act well-adjusted. #NotGonnaEndWell
  • My youngest is driving me completely insane this morning. #TwitchyWriter

9 Days Ago:
  • Whither thou goest, there thou art. #NaNoWriMo and crazy…
  • I wouldn’t mind Monday so much if it didn’t start so bloody early. #SleepDeprived #NaNoWriMo hangover
  • ZOMG!!! @100MonkeysMusic makes nutso offspring mellow! Who knew? #PutsOnEndlessLoop

5 Days Ago:
  • “Let’s drive to New York.” “Now?” “Sure!” … “Oh, why the hell not. Let’s go.” Yay!!!” #roadtrip
  • Black Friday will be used for research. And groceries. #NotEnoughCoffeeInTheWorld
  • Debating technique for interviewing police. Liberal use of the word “Sir” a big part of the plan.
  • Settling in for a writing binge. #caffeine #NaNoWriMo
  • Looks like the world’s gone mad. Good thing I was already there. #NaNoWriMo #InsaneAuthor

4 Days Ago:
  • At this point, zombie ninja squirrels would really help to liven up my evening. #NaNoWriMo means #NoLife
  • Sing to me, @samueltwitt1, while I create people out of air and intuition.
  • I should have gone with the squirrel idea. #NaNoWriMo
  • Sleep deprivation. Nonstop caffeine consumption. Talking to self. Swearing at computer. Must be #NaNoWriMo
  • Tried lying back & thinking of England. Didn’t help. #NaNoWriMo
  • Too early. I’ve lost that loving feeling. #NotEnoughCoffeeInTheWorld

3 Days Ago:
  • Back home. #naptime

2 Days Ago:
  • Experimenting with how much I can write before I go stark raving mad. Oops. Loo late. #NaNoWriMo
  • Zero sleep. 10,000 words left to go. @samueltwitt1 @100MonkeysMusic keeping me awake. #NaNoWriMo #NotEnoughCoffeeInTheWorld
  • Singing my children awake for a change of pace. #NotEnoughCoffeeInTheWorld
  • Looking back at my sanity with a deep feeling of nostalgia. #NaNoWriMo

1 Day Ago:
  • Have decided to work the phrase “snickerdoodle mambo” into my novel somehow. #NaNoWriMo #NotEnoughCoffeeInTheWorld
  • Beating the hell out of my protagonist. #MustBeTuesday

  • Won. Woo. Going to sleep now. Bigger Woo. #NaNoWriMo

Victory has never tasted so... much like coffee

One funny part of the NaNoWriMo experience that I have not talked about is the strange post-victory numbness that sets in as soon as your word count begins with “5” and is backed up by four other numbers.

This year, I finished on November 30th at 5:20 a.m. – with a nice, comfortable 17 hours and 40 minutes to spare.

Am I celebrating? Jumping for joy? Nodding at myself in deep personal self-satisfaction in slow motion? (Slow motion makes everything more meaningful – just ask the guys who make pharmaceutical commercials.)

Nope. No rocking out loud. No patting on backs.

Am I happy? Sure. Somewhere in my sleep-deprived, caffeine-riddled brain I’m ecstatic. Yay, me!

But all I can think about in this moment (other than how absolutely enticing my bed is looking right now) is how I now have to not only finish this blasted novel, but also edit the damned thing. After spending more time with these characters than I have with many of my blood relatives, I must confess that the urge to run over my protagonist with a bus is growing on me.

I will, of course, resist the temptation. Probably.

The truth is, I am an over-sharer. There is no way I can go through an intense experience like NaNoWriMo without spouting off about 1) my feelings, 2) my characters, 3) my plot, and 4) my feelings about my characters and plot. The end result is that I now have a group of fellow-writers and friends who genuinely want to know how the thing is going to end. 

I’m a little curious myself.

So I will put on my big-girl pants and continue to tackle this monster. I will finish. I will edit. I may even decide it’s worth publishing. After all, I’ve got nothing better to do with all this newly-discovered free time.

Well… until November 1, 2012, at least.

First on my agenda, however, is something I doubtless have in common with a large number of fellow WriMos.

Sleep. Lots and lots of sleep.

Monday, November 28, 2011

NaNoWriMo, Caffeine Addiction, and Impulse Control

The month of November is a special time for professional and aspiring authors alike, as it is also the month in which NaNoWriMo takes place. 

NaNo is its own special brand of organized insanity. Ostensibly, the goal is for each participant to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. In reality, it is a tool that helps writers silence their inner critics and just write.

It is hard to explain why NaNo elicits such a manic response to the non-writers out there. There really is no prize for winning. You sacrifice sleep, meals, friends, family, and hygiene in your dedication to the challenge. Even those nearest and dearest to you will question your sanity by the time the month is up. YOU will question your sanity before the month is up.

So what is the draw, then? There must be one, since thousands of people from around the world enter and participate each year. 

What seduces the writer into devoting themselves to climbing the NaNo mountain is simply this – you will write your novel. Instead of allowing your family to interrupt your writing time, you incoherently mutter “NaNo” and throw your children a box of Poptarts to quiet them. Instead of reflecting on how your writing is crap, your plot is crap, and you will never get published, you are totally focused on upping your word count. 

If you win – and any truly passionate writer will want this badly – you find yourself on December 1st at least 50,000 words into an actual, honest-to-goodness novel. It won’t be finished by any stretch of the imagination, of course, but it is something like finding that someone has done the work for you. It’s a pleasant surprise.
I know this doesn’t make sense, but I equate NaNo to having a newborn baby. You live in an altered reality during that time, so when the smoke clears and you rejoin the human race, the memories of the experience take on a dreamlike quality.

I did NaNo for the first time last year. When I finished, I set the novel aside for over half a year because I was scared to look at the mess I had created. When I did finally review it, however, I was stunned. I actually liked it. Color me shocked. I still didn’t intend to pursue publication because of the nature of the writing itself, but it was something I could actually be proud of. 

So this year, I’m at it again. I have 3 days and 10,000 words left. My children bring me caffeine periodically or just wave at me from the doorway. My husband avoids me like the plague after having interrupted my process at the wrong moment once too many times. They treat me like a rather disturbing exhibit at the zoo, but they do so with love and acceptance. They know I’ll come back to my senses on December 1st.
Until then, I am enjoying the complete lack of impulse control that comes with total and utter exhaustion. My plot has gone absolutely nowhere I had anticipated. To say we’ve moved away from the outline is laughably understating the case. The characters have taken over. It’s a mutiny. I’m thoroughly enjoying every moment of it, too. 

If I had not done NaNo, I would never have had the courage to throw in these weird little ideas or listen to the offbeat nudges from my imagination. It’s fascinating to stop typing and see something entirely unexpected on the page in front of you. You wrote it – you know you did – but it almost seems to have created itself.
For the geekier writers, this is something we can only label, “So cool!” - I’m sure the more intellectual of us would say that it typified a fascinating phenomenon that is a well-documented facet of the creative process. 

Really, it’s just super-freaking-cool.

I should probably mention that the lack of impulse control does eek into other areas of one’s life. I have tweeted some things I’m not proud of (although they were hilariously witty). I may have made some comments out loud that I would normally restrict to inner monologue. If you chose to participate in NaNoWriMo next November, you may want to surrender your cell phone to a responsible adult for the duration. Just a suggestion!