NaNoWriMo-The Last Word

 

It was 10:15 last night when I put the last word on the last page, ending what I considered to be one of the most important months in my career as an author. It was important, because I learned more in November about creative writing than I could ever have imagined.

I put my life on hold for practically the entire month. I worked on my novel every day, but I didn’t always reach my goal of 1,700 words. It was tough; work, family, Thanksgiving, migraines, and lack of motivation kept me from completing the overall goal of 50,000 words in 30 days (I wrote 40,294 words, but I finished my story). However, I don’t see it as a failure.

I knew a week ago I wasn’t going to make my goal, and confided to my fiancé that I knew I would finish my story by then. But there was no way I would get to 50,000.

“But you worked so hard on it, and you’ll feel really bad it you don’t ….”

Honestly, I don’t feel bad at all about it. I didn’t do it to prove to anyone I could do it. I did it so I could learn from it. I did it for the experience. And now, I know the price I have to pay if I ever needed to write a 50,000-word novel in a month. I would basically have to put everything else on hold and put all my efforts into that novel. I would have to ignore my duties as a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, and a friend just so I could complete the task.

I truly enjoyed writing the novel, but it’s not done. The editing alone will take a few months, at the very least. Which is fine with me. I’m ready to take a few days off to work on all my other projects that have been waiting patiently for me.

My advice for people wanting to do the challenge next November:

  • This will take most of your spare time. Let your friends and family know you won’t be available for the month.
  • Stick to you goal of 1,700 words a day. Once you get behind, it’s extremely difficult to catch up.
  • Don’t give up. (If you started the challenge with a purpose, chances are you won’t have to worry too much about this one.)
  • Gather a support team. Whether it’s your boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, brother, sister, kids, whoever; you will need them to help you brainstorm and keep you on track. They will also become your cheerleaders.

Next year I will be better prepared. And I will also have an advantage; it will no longer be my first.

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NaNoWriMo: First Blunder

There’s always gotta be a first, right? I mean, if I were perfect, there would be no need for this challenge. It would be easy-peasy. I would be rich and famous and have everything I ever wanted.

But life doesn’t work that way. Not for me, anyway. I don’t think for most people, either.

The NaNoWriMo website tracks the amount of words you write each day. It gives you a goal, a mark to reach to make sure you are on the right track. I convinced myself I need to write 1667 words a day if I was going to finish Nov. 30.

And I have done great, staying with 100 words or so of reaching my goal each day. I figured if I stayed within those boundaries, I would be fine. The first couple days of the challenge, I timed how long it takes me to write that many words in one sitting. (It came out to be an average of 2 hours.)

But then something happened yesterday I didn’t expect. My editor called and asked me if I had any stories for this month’s Hiawatha Today. She had forgotten to remind me that they are publishing a week early this month and next because of the holidays.

So, instead of panicking, I went home after work and thought about what articles I could reasonably finish by 10:00 this morning. It took me until bedtime, but I got them done and sent. Unfortunately, I forgot all about posting my word count. This morning I realized I had dropped the ball.

I’m sure it didn’t make any difference, and it was really just a personal goal, but it stung a little. My perfect record was tarnished. And it put me behind. But it’s still better than missing my deadline for the Hiawatha Today. After all, I’m getting paid for that.

I’m doing my best to make up the word count today so I won’t have to stress too much at the end of the month. I have a feeling that would be overwhelming, and anything can happen in the next 21 days. Steady as she goes…

Here is an except from my novel, The Edge of Eternity:

Eddie picked up the notebook and brushed it off. He opened it to the first age and saw Nancy’s name scribbled at the top. Something really bad must have happened for her to drop her book, Eddie thought to himself. He looked around, and didn’t see anything out of the ordinary.

He got on his bike and rode back to Nancy’s house, hoping he could shed some light on her disappearance. But no one answered the door. He thought about leaving the notebook, but without an explanation, they might wonder.

He took it home with him, intending on dropping it by later.  Eddie ate an early dinner because he was going to have to collect for the paper after he delivered them all. He went to the corner and waited for truck, which was late.

The street was empty, except for Mrs. Nielsen, who was walking her dog.  “Hi, Mrs. Nielsen,” he said as she walked by.

“Hello, Eddie. How’s your mother. I haven’t see her at the PTA lately. Is she doing all right?”

Eddie nodded. “Her sewing business is picking up, with the holiday coming and all. I’ll tell her you asked about her.”

“Yes …. you do that,” she replied coyly. “Please tell her I said we miss her at the meetings.”

Eddie snickered and shook his head as she walked away. He didn’t tell her the real reason his mom was staying away. His mom thought all those snobs were hypocrites.

Dave drove up in the truck and threw the papers off the truck. “Here ya go, Eddie! See you tomorrow morning, bright and early!”

Eddie waved, as Dave got back in the truck and sped off.  Eddie folded his newspapers and stuffed them in his bag. He slung the bag over his shoulder and hopped on his bike, situating his full bag so it sat on the handlebars.

He went up and down the blocks, throwing the papers onto his customers’ porches. After doing it a few hundred times, he was getting pretty good at it.  As he was nearing the bottom of the bag, Eddie thought about skipping his fee-collecting and waiting for another day. But then his dad’s voice popped into his head: “Why put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

He stopped at his house to drop the newspaper bag off, and picked up his fee book and money pouch.  “Take your flashlight!” his mother reminded him and he grabbed it off the kitchen counter.

Eddie decided not to take his bike. It would only be in the way.  He went to the first house, ready with his canned greeting. “Hello, I’m collecting for the paper.”

Most everyone had their money ready, and Eddie usually didn’t have to make change, but when he did, he made sure he counted it out right. He had to turn in the money at the end of the month and if it was off, he had to cover it; an incentive for making correct change.

And most of his customers were all right. Except for Brody. He hated going to Brody’s house. It smelled like stale smoke. Brody had yellow teeth and smelled like B.O. He also paid in pennies. He always insisted that Eddie stand inside the door to wait until he counted out all one-hundred and fifty pennies. His cat would rub up against his leg, and when Eddie bent down to pet it, Brody got mad and told him, “Don’t touch my cat,” and he’d go back to counting his pennies.

Eddie avoided his house until the very last, even though it meant that he had to zig-zag across the streets.  He walked up the rickety porch and rang the doorbell. When Brody didn’t answer, he pounded on the door. The porch light was on, which meant in most circles, that someone was home.  He pounded the door one more time, and when no one answered, he left. He would have to come back another day.

As he was walking away from the house, he turned and saw that there was a light on in Brody’s basement. It was a tiny window, but maybe Brody was working in his basement.  Eddie didn’t want to have to come back.

He stuck his collection schedule in his back pocket and walked over to the window and got on his knees to peek in the tiny window.

“What the heck?” he whispered to himself.

What he saw made his skin crawl. Brody was standing inside a red circle, wearing a black robe with a hood, holding a candle, reading something out of an old book. Nancy was tied to a chair in front of him; her mouth covered with tape.

To be continued…

 

In My Father’s Footsteps

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