My NaNoWriMo book is done, though of course I’m not.
National Novel Writing Month, for those new to it, involves writing a “book” in a month, and it happens every November. The definition of a book there is 50 000 words–and unless you’re writing young adult (sometimes) or category romance length books, usually a book is running longer than that (though FYI, The Silent Places was like 56K IIRC–it just worked better taut and anything else would be filler).
Because I guess how dopamine is processed in my brain is a little wonky, I get a nice chemical hit in my head with things like word count. 50K in thirty days is like 1667/day, which is great, but I operate a little differently…so I knocked out that first 50K in seven days.
So some people were a little concerned about me burning out since that was my follow up to writing the last 45K of Livi 6 in four days (yes, we’re looking at almost 100K in two weeks, I’m nuts), so I dropped my daily count to 2K a day–except for Wednesdays, my scheduled writing day (thanks, Patreon!), and Saturday night when I do my weekly write-in (again, thanks, patrons!).
I finished the book today, at 83K.
I have hated a good chunk of it, especially this last half, as I realized I had no idea where I was going. Usually by that point I have an idea, even when I’m writing by the seat of my pants. There are varying methods for me when writing across a spectrum: you’ve got The Silent Places, that dropped out of my head complete with the backstory and full ending before I even wrote the first word; you’ve got the Livi Talbot series and, by virtue of it living in my head for nearly ten years, I know the endings to each book ahead of time so I’ve got a guide book; and then you’ve got Dweller on the Threshold, where I knew a couple of things but not really the ending until I was more than halfway through, making it up as I went along.
This new one–Watcher of the Woods (or Haunted Vacation Lesbians if you follow me elsewhere) was one of those where I was flying by the seat of my pants but no fucking idea where I was going to land. Usually by halfway, I know or have an idea. By 75%, I always know. This one, I kept adding elements, leaving myself notes, trying to see through the fog while completely clueless. Even as it came to a conclusion today, I still wasn’t 100% sure it was coming together…
Right until the very, very last line, which I did not know I would write until I actually wrote it.
It’s this bizarre kind of magic that is fascinating to be apart of. Note that I am aware all of this stuff comes from my brain, and I do not believe my skill was some kind of gift. I write because it’s how I learned to cope with trauma. Telling myself stories as a very, very small child allowed me a safe place to fall asleep in, to retreat to, to keep me company. And because it was my only real reliable coping mechanism, I used it again and again as I grew up, and using it brought skills. I learned how to tell better stories more clearly, with more depth, through the practice I fell into just trying to survive, and I’m lucky enough to make some money with it now because I’d fucking suck at a job outside the home.
But it still feels like magic when it happens, my subconscious mind laying out all these pieces I don’t know what to do with until I get to the part where they all come together.
So it turns out, much to my genuine surprise, I can probably beat this one into shape eventually. I’ve got my release schedule set for about eighteen months so I’m not sure where I’ll slot this one in–for now, at least I’ve got something roughly done and I can worry about it later.
But as I said, I’m not done yet–I still want to do 2K a day to keep up the habit for November. So I’m pulling out the second Waverly Jones book, A Wild Kind of Darkness, which I started and got 19K into when I finished her first one in September before I switched to Livi 6, with an eye to get another 30K done on it this month.
To recap, I started this summer in a really rough spot, exhausted from Livi 5 revisions eating my brain for months. And now…
- July – finished Witch Hunt
- August – wrote Dweller on the Threshold
- September – finished The Killing Beach
- October – finished Charon’s Gold
- November – wrote Watcher of the Woods
I am still fucking amazed at that. I mean, it helps that I’ve been on corticosteroids off and on, which not only helps my mood but for a chunk of that time I could actually eat and absorb nutrients, which helps my brain, and also I’m still isolated–my health is fragile so I’m locked away with my imaginary friends. And I had to get that new laptop in September, so I can actually work easier from bed now.
Everything is terrible but this is one thing I feel really good about, even though it likely won’t last.
December I’ve scheduled myself Livi 6 revisions, to get it in shape for another set of eyes, but I might also try to finish A Wild Kind of Darkness, and in January I’m starting Hell Fire. Of course my body is falling apart again so…we’ll see.
For now, I’m taking the win.
(Also here’s the cover for those not on NaNo or Patreon.)