Tuesday, December 29, 2009

My First NaNoWriMo

It was October 28, 2008. A friend had just introduced me to Nano and I decided that I had to do it. I didn't have an outline ready, but I had that old manuscript that needed to be completely re-written to fit the new female lead character. Talia was ready to show me what she could do, so I went to the website and signed up for the challenge.

I didn't read the forums very often or participate in any of the online community aspects during my first year. There wasn't enough time for that. I was completely engrossed in my novel. With my inner editor successfully locked away, Talia started doing things that Elyzbeth had never dreamed of. I let go of all my worries and allowed myself to enjoy the story that unfolded over the month. As my word count grew and the days flew by, I found myself happier than I had ever been and my writing improved.

My family made due with hot dogs and mac and cheese and hoped the month would be over soon. Any time we were in the car for more than thirty minutes, I scribbled in notebooks while my hubby listened to his iPod. Thanksgiving came and we drove the eight hours to be with family--this time I took my hubby's laptop. I wrote the entire time there and reached my 50K goal and kept going. My new goal was to learn how the story ended. I had to take a break during the actual visit, but once we were driving home again I immersed myself in Talia's world in a race to the end. I found my ending and it was so satisfying that I wanted to cry for joy. My final word count was just over 60K, but what made me the happiest was the sense of relief and hope that had moved into my heart. I finally had something worth working on.

There were still questions that needed answering, a lot of why's and some details to fill in, but the bones were all there. Twenty four years had passed since CJ and I planned to write a book. It was nowhere near ready for publication, but I had finally written my first novel from beginning to end. And it didn't make me want to throw up.

After completing Nano in '08, I set my book aside for December through January. I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained and needed time to recover from giving in completely to my creative side as well as the busy holiday season. My family became my priority again, but my thoughts kept returning to Sendek, my new world. How were my characters? Did they miss me?

By August of 2009, I had gone through one and a half complete revisions and added several new scenes. My word count was up to almost 70,000. Then I got stuck again. I knew there were holes in the plot, but I'd spent so much time on it that I could no longer differentiate from what was in my head and what was on the page. It was time to find a fresh reader again. My first choice for a critical reader is my husband, since he keeps me grounded in reality. As bad as that may sound, it's a good thing--in small doses. Unfortunately, he was not available. Instead, I handed it over to two close friends.

With their feedback I discovered a constant gnawing in the back of my mind. That "what if" sensation that just wouldn't let me move on with my life. What if I could share this story with the world? What if I could make a go of this writing thing? There's something exciting about giving in to the creative forces, unlocking some deep hidden part of your soul in the process. I'm finding bits of myself emerging that I never knew existed. Strength, determination, even some stubborn assertiveness that has been dormant most of my life.

Come back tomorrow for the rest of the story...