I know this post is a few weeks late, as I had the word document all opened up before the end of November to account my 1st experience with NaNoWriMo. Well, things don’t always go as planned and still raw from the experience of writing my first loose draft of my novel, I did not feel like doing it at that time, but here we are.
NaNoWriMo! Something that I have only found out about this year and had no clue that the writing world was so jacked up with all these wonderful motivational tools that encourage us to Just Do It! No more excuses, no more hiding behind the shrouds of mystery that you have created in real time and no more wondering if you will ever write that book that you have been talking about since your 19-year-old son was just born. The best time is the right now, which is what NaNoWriMo offers you.
Before I continue, let me just highlight what exactly is NaNoWriMo and what does it mean to be one of all the other winners of NaNoWriMo. Firstly it stands for National Novel Writing Month which is the month of November, every year. You have 30 days to write 50 000 words which are about the word count of a Young Adult Novel or a toss between a Novella and a shorter Novel. You enter your word count on the website as you progress. You reach 50 000 words within that month then you are considered a winner. There are other elements to the concept too and you also get virtual badges as you reach certain milestones whilst you on the WriMo journey. You do not even have to write a novel or work towards a novel and just write blog posts or short stories which means you get classified as a NaNo rebel, which I suppose is cool too.
The question is, was Nanowrimo beneficial to me? The answer is actually both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. I bought into the concept and I did win but would I write a novel in this manner again? Probably not!
I started out the first day deciding that I was a Pantser meaning the words will fly from the seat of my pants and wrote down 2500 words and then I hit writer’s block the next day. I had no clue as for where to go to from there and could not even get a proper visual in my head to continue with a story that I wanted to write for almost 2 decades. Then I found out about the Hero’s Journey and then the Heroine’s journey and tried to use that as a basis to plot my story. How does someone hit a roadblock when you haven’t even gotten past 2500 words? It took me 4 days to plot the gist of the story still not sure about what goes where and how, but I just started plotting scenes and this now makes me a Plotter by the way, which is self-explanatory.
Right, so I got the story sorted in my head and was back at it again. A long story short, I did finish a couple days before the end of the month reaching slightly over 50 000 words, but the novel was far from finished. So yes, NaNo has helped me get to 50 000 words and I was able to do something that I thought I would never get done, let alone in under 30 days.
The downside (for me) was not being able to exercise the full potential of my creation of words and sentences and it worked terribly on my OCD and quite stressful in general from this aspect and not forgetting the genre I was writing was a drama and my poor MC (main character) faced a fate of ‘series of unfortunate events’. The story itself was emotional as I had to re-visit certain aspects of myself and draw on many experiences of my own life to write this story, so it did not give me enough time to reflect and digest my own feelings and make my OCD happy, writing and editing all at the same time, which is not the NaNo concept fault of course as it is different strokes for different folks. The story focuses heavily on child abuse and child sexual abuse and rape culture so I think it was quite a heavy write to create and assimilate in under 30 days.
NaNo’s support was really great though. It was beautiful to see and experience the comradeship that was either online (which I participated in) and some towns around the world had their weekly meetups in coffee shops or other common venues. There were many that did not get to 50 000 words and were gently reminded that the words that they have now are much better than they had a few days ago. The point of it is, you have got something done in otherwise would not have gotten done. I was cheered and coaxed and encouraged on this journey by the Samaritans of the writing community. Let me not forget the support I had from family and friends and other members of the public who did not join the NaNoWriMo and the continued ongoing support that I am still getting.
Where to from then? I am extremely glad I did do WriMo because I finally wrote a book even if it is just a loose draft. I have given the story a break and will return to it in the first week of January 2018 and re-write a lot of the scenes and I have at least 20 000 words more to add to the story. I think if all goes well then I will publish anything between July and December next year. I will certainly use WriMo again but will return as a rebel as I can do short stories and blog posts which probably are not so close to my heart like writing this book.
Here is an excerpt from the book ‘Little Specs of Dust’, a name I may or may not keep as its title.
The long walks to school were a breath of fresh air, we could cross the river on the far left from the mini bamboo-forest closer to the stream side and hopscotch on rocks to safely land on the other side and make our way to the sweet aunty to get our early morning sweets. We never had money for that but stealing a 10 cent from the auspicious brass chombu that sacredly held the weekly coins placed in it every Friday as an offering to the mother luxmi, the goddess of good fortune, did get us quite a few items for the week. Bubblegum was 1 cent for 3 and bor and figs were 1 cent a packet. The sweet aunty would sit on a very low stool sprawled out like a Buddha in her sari tucking it in places to hide the rolls that seem to find a way to take a peek every now and then, as she systematically collected the coins for the exchange of the goods spread out on her cloth that she neatly set out on the ground. She smiled all the time and every now and then she would take her right index finger to push her thick-framed glasses back up the ridge of her nose because it slid down from the beads of sweat forming on her forehead from the exotic Durban heat.
Before we can even get to the sweet aunty there was another obstacle we had to face after the river, they would be there some days which gave us other days a smooth passage to the sweet aunty and then climb the small hill to get onto the road where our school stood in front of us. When they were there the trip to school seemed longer and the breath of fresh air became stale with fear. They usually followed the herd boy when they were majestically passing through the plane heading in the direction of the bamboo forest but sometimes they lounged in the open air whilst the herd boy sat on the ground very much basking in the morning glory. The bottom jaw seemed to have a mind of its own moving from side to side busy chomping away whatever it is that cows chomped on. My sister would hold my hand and I would walk behind her clutching onto her school belt as we both braved the fierce beasts that towered above us and they took their place on their grassy thrones. We would walk quietly at times trying not to disturb their rituals and meditations and there are times we would scurry through the spaces between them when they decided to let us know how unpleased they were with a huge “Moooo” from their now disturbed chewing. When we made it through this, then only we would start breathing again and I would run behind my sister while she held my hand pulling me to safety. All this was left in the distant air once we reached the sweet aunty.
© Pragashnie Naidoo