It’s a warm Thursday afternoon in the middle of the summer school holidays. The sun is shining, the cicadas are chirping, and I’m listening to classical music.
It is finished, and while I hit my 50,000 target word count on Day 25, I continued writing. This is not only the first NaNoWriMo in which I reached 50,000 significantly earlier than the cut-off date, it is also the first one in which I wrote every single day. I can’t recall the exact statistics, but I think my lowest word count day was around the 60-words mark, and the highest was close to 3,000.
It’s a crazy time of year for me and winning NaNo is like a wonderful little blip of personal achievement, self-satisfaction and joy in the midst of what is usually a stressful season. It also marks the close of the school year (late January to late December) and both my children have more end-of-year events to attend than normal. Child No.1 is going to be awarded with academic achievement awards (I knew he had it in him!) and Child No.2 is graduating from primary school (elementary school). It’s the end of an era for our family and it’s weird thinking that my ‘baby’ will be starting high school next year. But with that comes a whole series of extra scheduled events, including orientation nights and days (on my birthday… thanks a lot! ) and no doubt there will be some teary farewells as well as some sighs of relief. It’s been a tumultuous year for my family and we are looking forward to a hopefully quiet summer holiday season once Christmas is done and dusted.
I will try to write a retrospective on my NaNoWriMo 2016 experience over the next week. I learned a lot this time around that served me well. My NaNo was much better this year than in previous years.
I also hope to come back to my story. I think it could be reworked as more of a Middle Earth Tolkien-esque kind of story happening in an alternate world. While I wanted it to be sci fi it really felt laborious having it take place across a series of different planets. It didn’t need that. It needs the different spaces but I think it would work better as a fantasy story. I will try to tweak it or rewrite it during early 2017.
I just reached the 50,438 words count so now it’s official – I have attained the title of NaNoWriMo Winner* for the fourth year in a row with my rambling, chronologically confused and in-desperate-need-of-editing sci-fi fantasy “Chloe’s War.” And quite frankly, I want to keep writing it. While I’m glad I finished it before the really busy season in the month before Christmas begins, part of me is not ready to lay this novel aside. With massive re-writing and tweaking, it might be something good. And in the meantime, NaNoWriMo is not over yet, so there are still five days in which I can add to my word count.
Once November and NaNo are over I intend to write a little retrospective. People who’ve been following me for a while will know that this was my fastest NaNoWriMo yet, and the first one for me that did not necessitate any all-nighters, last-minute deadline freakouts or bouts of “I suck so why even bother?!” I have a few thoughts on why I was more successful this time compared to previous years… but I think I need to take a writing breather to recover before I get back onto that.
On a different note, I saw Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them the other night with The Husband and kids. It was, well, fantastic. A wonderful, intriguing, fun, sad, clever, scary, compassionate kind of film – one definitely for people like me who love animals and imagine a world where people care about their creatures and each other. The characters are wonderfully diverse, well-developed and individual. It felt to me like an INFJ version of a superhero film. Even better, despite it being set in the same universe as Harry Potter, it didn’t in any way feel like just a rehashing of the original HP stories. It is very much its own story and while it obviously links to the originals, it doesn’t feel sameish at all. Basically, it’s everything that I hope Rogue One will be when that comes out next month – part of an established fictional universe yet carving out its own unique space within that universe, while not being just the same old story again. It’s been a good year for the sorts of movies I like and I think Fantastic Beasts is one that I will watch again. At the very least I now want to read the J.K. Rowling screenplay of the film!*Winner = any NaNoWriMo participant who reaches a validated word count of 50,000+ words. And not, as people in the past mistakenly believed, signifying that I am in any conventional way a successful novelist!
Current word count: 45,970/50,000 words.
Today’s writing soundtrack: ABC Classic FM radio
(…and the sound of one of the neighbours’ dogs howling… ugh… people, please: if you can’t give a dog the attention he or she needs to be psychologically healthy, maybe you ought to not have a dog. Keeping a highly sociable pet – evolved from a species that forms close bonds with its pack – locked up on its own for several hours every day is not good for them, and a nightly 15 minute walk isn’t going to do much to alleviate its stress.)
Anyway, animal welfare rant aside (though if you want more on that sort of thing, here’s an article I read today that I liked), I am on the home stretch and I don’t want to give into the temptation to procrastinate writing by getting caught up blogging. I can picture a hare/tortoise scenario in which I am the overconfident hare that stops to take a quick nap – only to find I lose the race.
Here’s a screenshot showing my current progress, before I begin working on my writing for Day 22. My NaNo experience this year has been, by far, my most successful. I have followed a number of different techniques and ideas while writing in comparison to previous years. After November I will (hopefully) write a retrospective piece on why NaNoWriMo 2016 was my best year so far.
So, NaNo, hey?
35,928/50,000 words at the start of Day 16. Like, how?!
In previous years I would’ve been lucky to be 19,000+ words into writing by this stage. Maybe practice makes perfect. The more terrible novels I write, the slightly less terrible they become each time. But I’ve been drifting a bit and getting bored and yesterday spent too much time on MBTI introvert memes on Instagram. And I realised that a lot of the time, Introvert memes aimed at ISTPs tick me off. They often have this controlling tone about them, like one I read and reshared yesterday said, “ISTP: you will likely do something for someone rather than give compliments. Give praise. Some people need to hear your appreciation.”