There Are Many Like It, But This One Is Mine
October is the time of year when the entire web of writers vibrates with the answer to one question: “am I going to participate in National Novel Writing Month this November?”
I have never won NaNo. I have also never given it the kind of serious try it deserves. I did a half-NaNo last year. I am currently debating whether to try this year.
My dilemma is this: I love the energy that exists around NaNoWriMo as an event. It’s inspiring, and it’s a good excuse to go silent on the interwebs for a month and focus on your story. It’s a tough enough goal that you get to feel like you really accomplished something if you manage it. It’s also a helluva lot of words forward in a new project, even if you don’t finish outright.
However. It comes at a really terrible time of year for me. In the first place, I work long hours at a day job and struggle to find time to write during the week. But I am a huge (college) football fan, so Saturdays are devoted to watching games. Secondly, Nano falls during one of the prime costume seasons of the year, namely just after Halloween and right smack amidst the two most accessible Renaissance Festivals to me. Since I dress up every chance I get and often sew my own costumes, those two activities make it really hard for me to devote every spare second to writing during November (and also October, which, of course, is prep month for character and plot building and research, etc.).
This year I have the added wrinkle of being something like 10,000 words away from the end of a novel. It’s awkward. It’s just long enough that I don’t know if I’ll be able to finish before NaNo, but I certainly don’t want to jump ship and write something new. I want to finish this one first.
That said, I’m not interested in writing a novel during NaNo this year if I participate. The next two writing projects I want to tackle are both shorter works, either novelettes or novellas (knowing me and the way words seem to expand, probably novellas). They are also both related pieces to the novel, one a direct parallel and the other a loose sequel (picks up with two of the side characters following the events of the novel). My goal would be to finish the novel’s rough draft and re-writes and one of the other stories. All told that would be about 50K.
My pipe dream would be to have the novel finished by the end of October (at least in rough draft…maybe not all the rewrites) and write both new stories, one 30K and one 20K, but considering it’s already the 18th and I have a tunic to make, two skirts to splice into one, and a hundred tiles to hand-sew to a mask between now and Halloween plus a sewing commission needed by then as well…I just don’t think that’s going to happen. Not with my day job.
So the question becomes: To NaNo, or not to NaNo? Do I tap into the energy of the month or just finish at my own pace and do a self-challenged NaNo at a time slightly better for me in that regard?
What are all of you doing with your similar dilemmas?