Excerpt from NaNo

Unedited, unpolished, unfit for public consumption.  Enjoy! 😀


I pulled out my pocket watch and flipped open the case, staring at it for a few moments until it sank in that it read 8:24, and whether that was AM or PM, it still had to be wrong.  It was almost mid-day.  I held it to my ear but there was only silence.

It hardly seemed like it should matter if my watch stopped working.  There were no meetings to attend or schedules to keep, but it was a thin thread of normalcy I could cling to.  Sure, we were running for our lives from an alien invasion, living in culverts and under bridges, barely sleeping or eating and probably little hope of surviving through the winter, but dammit, I knew what time it was, didn’t I!

The rhythm had helped me sleep for weeks, the comforting tick-tick-tick that let me pretend so long as my eyes were closed that this was just a weekend camping trip instead.  The device now lay dead, hands unmoving, time had stopped.  I cried.  I actually cried.  The last connection to the time before all this had started had been ripped from me, and it made me angry.  Angry that I was so weak, angry that such a stupid thing as this had me crying, and angry at all the tears that hadn’t fallen over people we had lost.

When Ashton put his arms around me, that’s when I really broke down into deep, gut wrenching sobs.  Then I wasn’t angry anymore, I was just crying all the tears I hadn’t cried for the last two months and now that they had started there was no stopping them.

I don’t know how long I cried, but eventually the tears finally stopped and the ache had retreated back to a dull numbness in my chest.  The others had drawn away, giving us some privacy.  I sat up, caught in that awkward moment between when the tears stop and when you try to extract yourself from the person who has just been holding you while you cried.  He seemed to understand, letting me go and giving me a gentle smile.

Why I really like NaNoWriMo…. and why I really hate it.

A few weeks ago I was reading someone’s entry about writer’s block being not the inability to write but hating everything written. (Was that you, Dean?)

I get both, really.  Sometimes I just can’t think of *anything* to write, and usually that’s when I’m mentally/emotionally exhausted by something or other.

Then there are phases where I get the “everything I’m writing is utter crap, drivel, tripe, cliched, flat, boring, lame…” you get the idea.   That’s what I’ve got right now.

What I really love about NaNoWriMo is it gives me permission to hate everything I’m writing, and still keep going.  The most important thing anyone can do in any kind of effort is to just keep going.  Just keep swimming, just keep swimming… and eventually whatever it is that is ‘wrong’ will sort itself out and you’ll get back to a place where you’re in the groove, the muse is happy, the words are flowing.

Trying to write every day can be very hard when you hate what you’re writing.  Forcing yourself to keep pushing through this kind of block is very exhausting because you’re not getting the same kind of payoff that you normally get from the hard work.

NaNo gives you permission to write utter crap, to hate it all, to detest ever word that falls from your fingers… and just keep going.  Something I really hate doing.

This is why I really hate NaNoWriMo, because I want to ‘win’, I mean most people do have some urge to hit the finish line, especially when the only person you’re really competing against is yourself.  But I never do.  I never get to 50,000 words.  I always get hung-up somewhere, either I can’t seem to get over the fact I hate what I’ve written so I keep trying to go back and edit and revise and change things instead of just keeping on, or because I have less and less time as work picks up because we’re getting closer to the end of the year and there’s a big push to get so much done, or because I just can’t seem to get the full 1,667 words out, and as each day goes by I fall a bit further behind that 50,000 word goal…

So it’s a little hard on the psyche to watch yourself get further behind, and it’s a little harder on the psyche to bash out any old jumble of words that you hate, and it’s even harder to know that because it’s so bad you’re never going to show anyone so what’s the point anyway!?

Yeah… I definitely have a love-hate relationship with NaNo.  But it isn’t really NaNo that I hate… it’s editing.  It’s revising.  I honestly have no idea how to do it, not really.

No one writes a perfect first draft.  But I’ve never figured out how to move beyond one!  I mean yes, I do revise *a little*… change a word, maybe rearrange a paragraph, but I’ve never really grasped the idea of how to really go through and revise a story or a novel.  It’s one of those utterly foreign and really a little terrifying concepts that just sort of hangs out there, threateningly on the horizon of writing.

So I love NaNo for giving me leave to write with wild abandon, and I hate NaNo for constantly reminding me what I *lack* as a writer.

And I thought up an idea.  And I’m already 1,000 words behind.


But I’ll do it again anyway.  I might not post it, though.  That remains to be seen.


What about you guys?  What’s the hardest part of what you love doing?  What’s the one thing you struggle with in your own endeavors?  What’s something you feel you just never got the hang of?


It’s that time of year again, when I decide between participating in NaNoWriMo or maintaining my sanity.

For those who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  It is a fabulous organization which seeks to promote writing by any means possible.  That is, just write.  Don’t try to come up with the next great novel, don’t worry about spelling, don’t edit, leave characters flat, threads dangling and plots filled with holes if you have to, just write.

The goal of NaNo is to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  That breaks down to an average of 1,667 words per day.  But that is only how you “win” NaNo.  The other goal is just to get people writing, for all those who have ever had the slightest inkling that they might want to write a story but always have some reason why they don’t.

This urges you to cast off any inhibitions and ignore any rules you’ve ever heard for the sake of getting words on paper.  As a friend of mine says, you can edit crap, you can’t edit nothing, so get something on the page, even if it’s crap, because then at least you have something to work with.

From NaNo’s About page:

The rules state that, to be an official NaNoWriMo winner, you must…

  • Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people’s works).
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you’re writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.

So that’s it, that’s NaNoWriMo.  Write a novel, do it in a month.

I’ve participated in NaNo for several years.  It’s always a good excuse to really push myself, but I can never quite stick to the principle of write freely with wild abandon and care not how bad it is.  I edit as I go, something you’re urged not to do.  I just can’t help it.  It’s how I write.  As a result, I’ve never actually ‘won’.  I’ve gotten close two years, but never hit 50,000.

This year, with my already failing goal to do something creative every day (which as always, started out really strong but has faltered as my life has gotten busier and busier) I feel like this would be yet another year where I see my word count fall pitifully behind daily goals until November 30th rolls around and I’m 20,000 words shy (but if you’re smart, you’ll look at it as 30,000 words further than I was November 1st!).


Sigh.  I’m going to torture myself with this again, aren’t I?

Alright.  I’ll do NaNo again.

And as always, November 1st and I don’t know what I’m going to write yet.  I *knew* I should have written down that idea last night when I had it…