Monday, November 21, 2011

Failure is Definitely An Option

I know I’m a little late to the party announcing this (as my friend Just Jennifer pointed out), but I’m doing NaNoWriMo.  I’m sure you are all well aware of what this is by now, but in case this is your first time hearing about it – hello, how was life under that rock? – NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  It’s where a bunch of us completely deranged, over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived individuals think it’d be a good idea to write a novel in one month.

50,000 words to be exact.  During the month of November.

For those that didn't catch it the first time, that's 50,000 words in thirty days.  Well technically, it’s 30 days, but really it’s more like 29 due to the stuff-your-face-full-of-turkey-until-you-pass-out day, that we in the States refer to as Thanksgiving.  Honestly, who has time to write on Thanksgiving?

Speaking of turkey.  Does anyone actually eat it?  I shove my face so full of mashed potatoes, creamed corn, green bean casserole, buttery rolls – OMG THE ROLLS! – that by the time I get to the turkey I’m all “meh.”

I suspect I’m not the only one who does this.  In fact, I know I’m not, as many people have told me they do the same.  Which means the turkey is more of a decoration, a garnish, much like parsley or those edible flowers which are totally safe to eat but no one actually does.

I’m sure all the turkeys would be delighted to know, right before their heads are lopped off and shoved up their asses for some poor unsuspecting girl, *ahem* me, to retrieve at a later date, that they are giving up their lives to be Table Art.

I believe I have digressed.

I blame NaNoWriMo.

When you’re under the gun to write 50,000 words in a month, you tend to ramble.  It’s diarrhea of the keyboard at its finest.  You’re likely to type any and every word that pops into your semi-lucid mind, not caring whether it makes one iota of sense, advances the story line, or more than likely, digs you deeper into a shit-storm of car chases and alien robots and flame-throwing monkeys and OH. MAH. GAH. WHAT THE HELL DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH TWO PEOPLE WHO ARE INCAPBABLE OF HAVING A CONVERSATION TO TELL EACH OTHER THAT THEY REALLY DO LOVE EACH OTHER! NO REALLY!  THEY DO!

I suppose it’s a good thing my main characters are completely and utterly inept of saying how they really feel or I’d have a 200 word story and fail miserably at my first NaNoWriMo attempt.

(Has anyone counted the superfluous words in the blog post?  We’re 420+ words in and I’d wager that  more than 200 are completely and totally, absolutely without a doubt, unnecessary.  Much like this parenthetical statement.  Wow, if this were part of NaNoWriMo I’d be kicking ass.)

When I boarded the train to Crazy Town, I, like many NoNoWriMo-ers, was afraid I’d never reach 50,000.  I got off to a ridiculous start, writing all through the night, pausing for lunch, writing two more hours and collapsing some time after the 9,000 word mark.  That was all on November 1st.

According to the NaNoWriMo stat counter I was on track to finish in, like, six days.  But I knew better.  I was headed for burn-out.  For staring out the window, and wearing a track in my carpet (if I had carpet) as I lapped the couch, and lighting candles and drinking coffee and then tea and then hey-let’s-try-coffee-again-surely-this-time-it-will-inspire-me.

I plowed through the writer’s block, my fingers banging away at the keys despite having no idea what to write.  It wasn’t that I didn’t know what the next scene was going to be, or the one after that, and after that.  It was that I couldn’t write it.  I had the whole darn story written in my head but when it came to transferring those words onto the screen? Fuhgetaboutit. 

To be totally cliché, pulling the story from my characters has been, at times, like pulling teeth.  At one point, the dialogue I was writing so was terrible I said to the husband, “If I overheard these two people having this conversation I’d punch them both in the face.”

I’ve literally thrown crap on the screen to keep this story moving.  If Beverly Diehl is reading this, she is cringing at my incorrect use of “literally,” but I assure you Beverly, there is actual crap on the screen.  It’s just in the form of poorly constructed sentences and throat-punching inducing dialogue.

I could go on and on about this but I’m sure you all have more interesting things to do like flossing your teeth and cleaning the crumbs from between your couch cushions.  I wrote this post so I have it on record that I am participating in NaNoWriMo.  There’s no backing out now.  Public humiliation is a powerful tool to keep one motivated- I believe it was @AFoggyMama who told me that in the days before NaNoWriMO as we geared up for the What-The-Hell-Were-We-Thinking event.

I suggest you all pre-order your very own copy of my NaNoWriMo novel, which is currently titled 50,000 Words of Unadulterated Garbage.  (That's my title, don't you even think about stealing it.)  Crap like this only comes around once in a lifetime and you don’t want to be left out on the cold bleary streets of Chicago, darkness rapidly approaching with nary a dime to your name.  You best start looking for a bench to spend the night, hopefully one with a roof. And overhead light.  You bend your head and trudge forward against the unrelenting wind.  Yeah, light would be good.  Although likely to prevent you from getting a good night’s sleep, hopefully it will discourage the rapists and thieves.  A good night’s sleep.  Your sardonic laugh is drowned out by the howling wind.  You’re spending the night on the streets of Chicago, like a good night’s sleep is actually a possi…

The hell?  Chicago? My main character’s supposed to be in New York.  When the freak did she get to Chicago?  I didn’t even know she bought a plane ticket!!!

So yeah.  That’s how NaNoWriMo’s going.  More than 35,000 words in and only nine days to finish, my fear now is that I will reach 50,000 words and my MC’s will still be giving each other one-word answers and sucking down coffee to swallow away the words they really want to say.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?  How’s it going?


  1. Gimme a N! Gimme an A! Gimme a N! O! W! R!....

    Oh. Sorry.

    Even when you think something you've written here is "garbage", it isn't. So I'll venture to say that your novel isn't either.

    I'm sad that you failed to mention your friends the Oreos, however.

  2. I wish I would have known about this sooner, theres a novel in my head that I have failed to commit to paper and a respectable life. Maybe, ibwill try to do some of this challenge in the few days I have left;)

  3. I'm with Jen here .... even when you think your blog is boring crap, I still laugh hysterically. So I'm looking forward to your novel... if you want a first opinion... I'd gladly upload it to my Kindle and read it on the bus.. I love reading new books!

  4. I wrote 82 words today. Pretty awesome.

    No it's not.

  5. Jen - thank you for kicking my ass in gear.

    Mango Chutney - DO IT! If you have a novel in your head, you must write it. It doesn't matter the month. DO IT! If you need a cheerleader, I'll do it! And so will Jen. Look how good she is.

    Chemgirljaime - you are so very kind sacrificing your eyes, which will surely go blind, from reading my crap. Perhaps I will edit it SOME of the crap before giving it to you.

    Catherine Dabels - You, my friend, crack my ass up. 82 words IS awesome. Just think, you're 82 closer to finishing. We're NaNoWriMo buddies and I know you're kicking ass.

  6. Not Blessed Mama - I'm sending you my turkey! I hope it doesn't spoil in the mail.

  7. Holy shiz, girl - you have to be a completely deranged, over-caffeinated, sleep-deprived individual to think it’d be a good idea to write a novel in one month. You're gonna go on like a 3 month vaca from your blog cuz the thought of writing is going to make you nauseous and tired and we're all gonna be like Where the hell did Sarcasm Goddess go???

  8. Um, yeah, no. I failed.
    I started, lasted two days.
    I was post op from double major surgery and found my Superwoman powers were merely the pain pills making me think I was Superwoman. Without them I was a sniveling, exhausted mess of chopped meat. Yeah, as good as they are, eventually ya gotta wean yourself or instead of being superwoman, people just think you're nuts!

    Next year, watch out!!!!

  9. I didn't hear about this until a few days into November, and never one to like failure, I decided to forego even trying. (I'm cool like that.) I do think I should try next year though. I have a novel bumping around in my brain...maybe by next year.

    I'm very excited to read yours though! I'd be happy to read a draft for you. I am worlds better at editing than I am at writing!

    Good luck!

  10. I stopped the insanity after day 1. I could see the writing on the wall. You know. . . figuratively.

  11. There is no way I could do it. I don't have the big vocabulary and I'm too short tempered. I think I'd be smashing my keyboard in under two days. Sigh.

  12. I'm all about the turkey...with cranberry jelly. NOT the kind with actual berries because that would just ruin everything.

    NaNoWriMo is at 31,070. The next eight days will be all about how many words I can vomit up and at this point I don't really care that my characters have gone completely off in another direction. As long as they don't all die off and leave me with nothing to say, it's all good. Best of luck with the final push! :-)

  13. Omg! What a post! How much coffee have you had... and are your fingers raw? You have more energy than me. I have hard enough time hitting 1000 words for my school reports. Hang in there. You can do it! Write on!!!

  14. Technically I'm participating. I won't consider it a failure for another week. Unless I can write 38,000 words in that week :-)

  15. I participated a few years back. It was a slow, gruesome death with juvenile characters and a horrendous cornball plot. I was so disgusted with what I'd produced that I threw it in a drawer and didn't look at it again for a few months. When I pulled it out again I still felt it was lousy, but at least I was able to write other things with less apprehension and stress. Words came easier. BUT, I am sure your work is a lot better than my garbled mess. Keep going!!!!!


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