My NaNo Retrospective

It’s November, and some of you out there are writing fiendishly for National Novel Writing Month. Despite my earlier expressed excitement, I decided at the last minute that I should instead concentrate on some works in progress rather than on a completely (well, mostly completely) new story. Rob and Paige’s story isn’t going in the bin; I’m just holding off on them a bit longer. They deserve a fuller telling, anyway.

2013 NaNoWriMo logo

NaNoWriMo is a celebration of writing, deadlines, creativity, and support, all important aspects of becoming a storyteller. Even though I won’t be running the race, this year, I don’t consider that a failure. In fact, NaNo has given me at least five stories of which I’m pretty proud:

anywhere_but_here-wp2012’s NaNo – “Anywhere but Here” – is a dystopian science fiction story, about four runaways and the Hounds tracking them down. In my delusion, I thought I could possibly push that one to publishable status, so I sent the first 1000 words to editor Kate Johnston. Kate had some great comments…but I was too shamed to send her the rest for a real job; I wanted to make the draft the best I could make it, and I knew that first pass wasn’t good enough. So, I’m working on that in bits and bobs.
On a side note, I believe Kate is still offering a great deal on a free critique of 1000 words, over at Musefly Writing Studio. Check out the link for more details!

fearless_graffiti_wp2011’s NaNo – Fearless – is still in progress, around 160K in first draft form. (I know: edit, edit, edit.) It’s a romance drama, one I’d once hoped to publish some day. As the story has become longer and more convoluted, though, that possibility has become ever more doubtful. I don’t mind. Once it’s done, I will print it up, bind it, and put it on my shelf. Because the story is so much a part of me, now. I’ve learned the most through writing it, and the depths of its beauty, sadness, and humanity I don’t think I’ll ever approach again.

Sixes-and-Sevens2007’s story was Sixes and Sevens, romance from an interracial angle, set circa 1997. Why that year? I remember being at a sleepover and waking up to news of Diana Spencer’s death, and talking with my friends about it, how we take the most important parts of life for granted. That, and the music from 1997 was pretty rockin’. 😀

In 2006, I wrote “The Daughters of Krull,” based on the high fantasy film from the 1980s (don’t judge me). While a fantasy, the main plot dealt mostly with fathers and daughters. I took three supporting characters from the film – a middle-aged man, a younger man in his physical prime, and a boy – and used them to examine their relationships with the women in their lives. It was actually a lot of fun to write, if not terribly popular with my usual readers.

through_green_eyes-wpAnd, all the way back in 2005, for my first NaNo, I wrote “Through Green Eyes,” a coming-of-age story of four siblings in colonial Japan, seen through the eyes of the family cat. This is probably the roughest and simplest of my NaNo ventures, but it’s also one of my favorites. It rekindled a love of my personal heritage I hadn’t felt in a long time. And, writing a cat was fun.

Whether you’re participating in NaNoWriMo or not, take a moment to reflect on some of the stories you’ve written over the years. What are your favorites? Feel free to leave a link with your comment, too: because NaNo is just as much about sharing and inspiration as anything else. Tally ho!

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8 thoughts on “My NaNo Retrospective

  1. Wow, your range of story genres and plots is remarkable. I like that you will write anything that appeals to you, rather than limiting yourself to a specific writing platform.

    I appreciate the shout-out, but I wish you weren’t shamed about your story. We writers have to take pride in the fact we wrote a story to completion, and that it is going to take years of hard work and dedication to make it the best we can.

    I remember the first time I asked a professor to critique the first few pages of a short story of mine, and he ripped it apart.

    Talk about shame! I thought the story sucked and I decided to not show him the rest of the story, figuring it was just as horrible. But he told me that was the same as quitting, and how was I going to learn what I did well in addition to what I didn’t do so well? He had a really good point. When we hide from our mistakes, we also hide from our successes.

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    • That courage is what makes you the writer and me the wannabe, Kate. 🙂

      I do hope to one day step past my self-imposed boundaries. It’s all psychological; I know that. Unfortunately, knowing it and doing something about it are two different things. It’s a strange dilemma I think some of us create for ourselves: we can grant our protagonists bravery and faith and the power to overcome the greatest of obstacles. Yet, we ourselves sit in the corner with our heads down in the real world, afraid to take the next step of our own evolution. And, for no real good reason at all.

      I remember a post you wrote about fear and writing and how one can lead into the other…but also how to move past it. I should find that post and read it again, because I remember being inspired by it.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  2. My November will be spent like yours—working on an existing WIP. I’ve coined my own phrase for the process that you can borrow once I reveal it in Tuesday’s post. 🙂

    I understand your reticence to share a complete work when the initial comments show where more work is needed. And I also think Kate’s professor had a great comeback for that. But it can still be tough! I’m not sure how I’ll feel when it’s time for my revisions to undergo another round of objective review….

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    • I’ll miss the rush of participating in NaNo, but I do think my time’s better spent not procrastinating on projects that really should have my attention.

      That dedication to your WIP is good, JM. Actually, dedication is more than half of what NaNo is about, so I don’t think we’re truly ignoring the spirit of the goal. LimebirdDennis said to me, “As long as you are writing…that’s OK!” I agree with that. 🙂

      Thanks, and looking forward to your Tuesday post!

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  3. So, my first question is: Where can I look up “Through Green Eyes”, “Daughters of Krull” and “Sixes and Sevens”? I’m curious to see how your style has evolved over the NaNos and how you have taken to different genres.
    Secondly, Will you be posting the refined version of “Anywhere But Here” like you are with “Fearless”? I for one would welcome it.

    Anyway, while I’ve only ever written one story to it’s completion (a fact that, while irking me, is one I can’t seem to combat at the moment.) I’d say my favorite truly original piece is only 100 or so words long. There is something about those challenges that can really smooth out a rock into a gem, and it’s just a fun diversion from the week. Sounds like we could all use one of those about now.

    Of all your work though, my favorite remains 1MC!, hands down. Even though I almost gave up on it entirely with Souji’s reintroduction, I just had to know, so I kept on reading. And I’m glad I did.

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    • Really? That’s interesting to hear. I pissed off a lot of folks with 1MC!, but usually it was because of the main couple, or the Trio. Not many folks took issue with me bringing in Souji. Though, a few questioned my idea of him getting possessed by his Shadow….

      The edits for “Anywhere” are going very slowly, mostly just when I feel like it, so I doubt I’ll replace the posted chapters like I did with Fearless. Especially if I do decide to shop it somewhere. (Yeah, right.) If you’d want to do a truer beta read, though, with the red pen and everything, I’d appreciate the assist.

      “Sixes and Sevens” ends so abruptly (it really sort of screeches to a halt), I never put it up anywhere. And, I’m still wading through a proper ending for “Through Green Eyes”. (I know where it needs to go, I just haven’t picked it up again since I hit the 50K mark.) I hesitate to mention “Daughters” is up at FF.Net, because it’s full of a lot of errors for which I really should have known better even at the time, but I was just getting back into fan fiction at the time, I needed something to put under my name again. And, that story was my newest and complete.

      There’s nothing wrong with having a short story for a favorite. Short is hard! 😀 I envy people like you who can pack so much punch into so few words. 🙂

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