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Alas, poor NaNoWriMo! I knew him, Chris Baty.

First off, the post title is a poor allusion for the following reasons:

1. NaNoWriMo is far from dead.

2. NaNoWriMo isn’t human, although many humans are involved with it. It’s closer to the Borg than a single human, except for the whole group-think-annihilate-humans thing.*

3. Because NaNoWriMo isn’t human, there is no skull for me to hold while I opine on the inevitability of death or fragility of life, or, in this case, writing. I’ll get to that in a bit.

4. I don’t know Chris Baty, at least not personally, though I do appreciate him and offer him many warm fuzzies for the creation of NaNoWriMo. Therefore, he’s not exactly a realistic candidate for my skull-less monologue.

So why lead with such a poor allusion? Well, I can’t be brilliant all the time. I’ve more or less made peace with that.

Now that that’s out of the way, on to the real post!

I’m writing this because NaNoWriMo starts a week from today, and for the first time since learning about it in 2004, I’m not participating in it. Basically, I’ve decided that I need to focus on revisions for my work-in-progress (which, granted, is currently in “allow to percolate pending revisions mode), and when I’m killing my darlings left and right and filling in plot holes, that means my word count pulses. By that, I mean it shrinks, then grows again, then shrinks until I wind up with something that is, hopefully, about the same size as when I set out. That’s not a “win” for NaNoWriMo.

I’ve also discovered that for all that I spent many years considering myself a pantser, I don’t do it well. Meaning, I can’t stare at the humungous pile of crap it inevitably leaves me with and see the, um, gold bits that are there, if only I dig for them. I see the pile of crap. And despair of ever working it into something submittable.† I can’t do that and have faith that It Will Get Better.

Hey. I’ve never claimed to be a particularly brave person. I think I can trace it back to falling off the trampoline when I was 9 years old and breaking my collarbone. The kicker (ha ha): All I was doing was backing up to get more space for my jump.It left me with an indelible lesson: Even caution can get you killed.‡

With the WIP, for all intents and purposes, I averaged 1,000 words a day over the course of 14 weeks to finish the rough draft. Not included in that total are the 20,000+ words I cut as I realized things were going in the wrong direction or a particular scene wasn’t working out or a quick read-through made me realize that, yanno, nothing was happening. While one year of NaNo did have me cap out at 78,000, I think it was, it’s not a pace I can sustain. Or even use, if I don’t want to wind up so intimidated by the revision process I give up before I start. At least, not while I still want to keep my dog in kibble, myself in non-kibble foodstuffs, and a roof over both our heads. And myself surfing the Interwebz. On days off of work, I can pretty comfortably hit at least 2,000 words. But yeah, shelter and food are nice and I’ve rather gotten used to them both.

So, no NaNo for me this year. I’m a little sad, because I love the camaraderie of it. I’m sure I could still show up at the write-ins as a NaNo rebel, but there would still be the sniffly part of me that is all,Aww, you’re having fun with word wars and fitting in Mr. Ian Woon and I’m killing MY FAVORITE SCENE because it doesn’t move the plot along or develop characterization. Then I would possibly murder with my eyes the legitimate Wrimos and it just wouldn’t go well.∞

Maybe I’ll do NaNo another year, though I suspect I’m done pushing myself past 50k. For now, for me at least, it’s the end of an era.

I lift my non-skull in salute to Chris Baty and Wrimos everywhere. I hope you all have even more fun than I did.


*I was never a huge Star Trek fan, and I’m sure my ignorance somehow shows. Deal with it.**

**A quick Internet search tells me that at least from Borg perspective, it wasn’t annihilation so much as assimilation. Told you I was ignorant, and whatever.

†Submittable in terms of submitting to an agent, I mean. Not the “Submit!”*whipcrack* kind. It’s a sign that my pantserhood will always be a part of me, because never, never, NEVER have I been able to whipcrack one of my novels, even when I do a reasonable amount of planning. It keeps things fun.

‡ I am aware that other persons might take my experience and interpret it as “If caution can kill you, you might as well toss it out and go for the adventure anyway.” I sneeze in the general direction of such persons and counteract thusly: if I’d been attempting a backflip somersault swan dive scissor kick, I probably would’ve broken my neck and become a paraplegic. If not died. So there.

∞I’m choosing the infinity sign for this footnote because it might be necessary to repeat “That was a joke, people” for infinity. I’ve never murdered anyone, with my eyes or any other body part, or any tool. No murdering. Nor is it endorsed.∞


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Denise Covey October 25, 2012, 8:04 pm

    Hi Amanda. I’m going in for the fourth time! I”m currently working like mad to completely finish my first NaNo novel as an editor has asked to see it after reading the synopsis. Cool bananas. I have my outline done for this NaNo story and I’m quite excited as I love my story idea this time! Good luck with your revisions.

  • Amanda October 26, 2012, 5:46 am

    Thanks, Denise! I admire you if you’re “double-dipping” for NaNo. Good luck with the first book and with your fourth year!