This is the first year in quite a few where I didn’t introduce my NaNoWriMo project in October and/or give one or two updates in November. C’est la vie!–as they say. My October was absolutely nuts and my November was pretty busy as well. (One of the reasons being a trip to New York City I took with my mom and I’m looking forward to blogging about meeting my FAVORITE childhood author, Gail Carson Levine, soon!) Needless to say, now that I’m here, I’m excited to talk about NaNoWriMo.
Some of you might remember that two years ago my NaNo project was a prequel to Everlasting (which I call Endeavoring). It was an opportunity to peek into the lives of Azalea’s parents, King Zechariah of Memiana and Queen Crystal of Orutia, and find out how on earth an optimistic human and a pessimistic fairy fell in love. I succeeded in writing 50,000 words that month and continued to write another 10,000 throughout December of that year into March of the next.
So, then came March of 2017. I was kind of at my wit’s end where Endeavoring was concerned–i.e., I wasn’t really sure where the story was going anymore, what the climax was, what was necessary information to give and what wasn’t, etc. Then I reread a scene from early on in the story that reminded me of a scene I had written in Bridget Returns, which I had recently finished writing. I freaked. Why were the emotions of the scene so similar? Why was the inner struggle in each of the characters so similar? I thought back on all the novels I’d written since high school and wondered if, as different as my stories were in concept, if maybe all my stories shared the same inherent message and/or theme.
I stopped writing mid-scene and didn’t so much as look at Endeavoring again for over a year. In fact, I didn’t write/edit at all for about 6 months. I told myself it was because I was busy. But in actuality, it was because I was afraid. I go through these phases of doubting myself as a writer at least once a year, if not more. Sometimes they last a few weeks, sometimes a few months. I think the longest period I’ve ever gone through was about a year in high school. Not fun. During this time, though, the one thing that would make me feel better (WRITING) doesn’t happen.
Then August and September of 2017 rolled around and I decided to write a Snow White retelling for a short story contest along with a couple friends. Since mine was going to be historical fiction and taking place during the Civil War, I researched and researched and wrote an outline and a ton of notes and worked and re-worked the plot. Then in October I started writing. It wasn’t perfect, but it went pretty well and I finished it during NaNoWriMo that November–all 22,000 words of it. I sent it to my aunt, my friends who were also participating in the contest, my mom and sisters, more friends. No other story of mine has been read by so many people as much as The War Within has. And I received so much positive praise that I realized (once again) that I do have what it takes to be a writer…and I’d better keep at it.
So this year, 2018, I edited The Whistler Daughters and submitted it to an agent (he didn’t accept it, but hey, I received my first rejection!). Then I edited Bridget Returns and sent it to my aunt so I could work toward self-publishing. And I edited The War Within and added another 10,000 words of content.
Then all of a sudden it was October 28th and NaNoWriMo was right around the corner–literally. What project was I going to work on next? It wasn’t a hard decision. I pulled up Endeavoring on my laptop and began reading over what I’d written almost two years ago. And that’s how I spent my November. Reading/editing the 60,000 words of Endeavoring I’d already written. And I did it! With one week to spare, I finished going through my first draft and was able to write a few new chapters before NaNo was up.
You see, in March of 2017, I thought I’d “realized” that I had nothing to say, nothing to contribute to the literary world. Not if, ultimately, all my books were saying the same thing. But then that summer I read the Underland Chronicles (written by the amazing author of the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins). The two series are in complete different genres, but they have very similar themes. Why? Because they’re written by the same author and she’s really trying to land a certain message home. Did this make me think “gosh, does she really have nothing else to say”? NO! I was so excited to see the similarities. Because this topic is something she’s passionate about and each of her works makes me think about it in a new way.
Conclusion: I have something to say. But no one will know if I don’t say it. So, in 2019, I plan to finish writing Endeavoring and make it the best story it can be.
This ended up being a much longer blog post than I was planning on, so if you’re still reading, hurrah!! But I’d like to finish off with two things: I could not get through NaNoWriMo every year without this girl right here, my very best writing buddy, Erin. And second, here’s a teaser from Endeavoring I thought you’d enjoy. 🙂 I’ll definitely do a Tiny Tidbits spotlight for Endeavoring next year! 😉
“My mother killed him. And I think she killed the others.”
He looked over, tears in his eyes. “I’m so sorry.”
She didn’t look at him.
“I tried to stop her. But she couldn’t see what I saw.”
“And what did you see?” Crystal met his gaze.
Zechariah was silent for a long time, thinking. Finally he said, “A person. People.” Then he took a deep breath. “In the spring, will you come with me to the palace to meet my mother? Oh, please, say you will! I know of all people in this world, you could persuade her to work with us. Just show her what you showed me.”
Crystal slowly smiled and put a hand on his knee. “I can’t.”
“That day was a defining moment for you. You picked your side. And your mother picked hers. No one will ever be able to change her mind. Because I didn’t change your mind. I only proved you were right.