I’ve mentioned before how competitive I am, right? Well, I am. Not quite obsessively so but…well…pretty darn close if I’d be honest. I was first introduced to the cray-cray that is National Novel Writing Month in 2006. I’d discovered a whole new world on the internet after a long, dry writing spell. I got involved in an on-line role-playing game loosely based on the Anita Blake universe. Two of the people involved got me onto Live Journal and I’d made other on-line friends there. Turned out, a lot of people did NaNo. I’d never heard of it, but hey…writing! Being dedicated to a word count for a month. To write–or more importantly to FINISH a novel. So I signed up using a pseudonym I used online at the time. And yes, that’s where the Silver in my pen name came from
That first year, I wrote the bones of SEASON OF THE WITCH. And won, despite The Only being involved in a serious roll-over accident that totaled her SUV–and that led to all her subsequent eye surgeries–the weekend before her birthday. I still managed to get SOTW to just over 53K words. Seven years later, that book is alive and breathing and looking for its audience on Amazon.
The second year arrived. The Only was turning 21. The month looked like smooth sailing. And then the police knocked on my door at 5 a.m. on Monday, October 29th. The LT, who I knew and had worked with, was there to tell me my mother had died and that my sister-in-law didn’t have my phone number. The same phone number I’d had for ten years–both land and cell. So yeah. Not going there.
On the 30th, Only hit the big Two-One. On November 1, we attended my mother’s memorial and internment of her ashes next to my father’s in their parish’s columbarium. On Friday, November 2, the James Gang went to Eischen’s, a landmark bar and restaurant in Okarche for pitchers of beer and fried chicken to celebrate Only’s “coming of age.” And yes, Baseball Boy was with her through it all and that’s when we figured they might be serious. 😉
We got home, and I decided to check email, etc. before heading to bed. Only to discover that a dear friend–though one I only knew on-line–had lost his father unexpectedly. It was a tough situation and while I won’t get into details because he’s a private man, it was a situation Lawyer Guy and I could help with. So we did.
Between closing out my mother’s house and estate (again, I won’t bore you with all the dysfuncation family laundry), and dealing with my friend’s situation, I was struggling to get words on paper. But I did. I jumped around in the story like a jackrabbit on double espresso shots but I wrote, faithfully grinding out my 1,667 words a day. I stayed on track.
Until I volunteered to drive my friend and his wife to California to close out his father’s estate, deal with packing and closing the house so it could be sold, and get back. All in a week. They arrived Thanksgiving afternoon and we headed west at oh-dark on Black Friday. I saw some amazing country I’d never seen before and got to know two people that we adopted into the James Gang, so it was worth it!
But I was now behind on my word count. I was so freaking close and the drive to reach 50K kept me on the road for 36 hours over two days as my brain churned with ideas. I had a laptop with me and I found time to scribble notes and words and sentences in odd moments that I’d then transcribe late at night after everyone else had gone to bed. Alone in a guest room of a house belonging to a very nice lady who became an instant friend, I forced the words out. I was about 10K behind by then. And I would be driving like a bat out of hell to get back to Oklahoma on November 29th and 30th. (FYI, we parked in truck stops and hotel parking lots to boost their wifi signal, 😉 )
On the last night before we left, I had 50,021 words. I’d made it. But I still had to upload the document for the official word count. With help, and much scratching of heads because no one really understood WHY this was so important to me, my friends helped me get on line so I could verify. The official count came in at 50,009. I’d won with NINE FREAKING WORDS to spare.
Why was it so important? Because in this one small thing during the month of November, I had control. I couldn’t fight life. Or death. I couldn’t hide under the covers. I didn’t have time to rail, rant, rave, or scream at the heavens. I just did. So I poured out everything into those words. They are awful. And ugly. Some scenes are downright brutal. But that book will see life some day too. Because that book is my second NaNo project for this year. I am facing the heartache and fear in that book, the feelings of loss and alienation, and I’m adding 50K new words to it, filling out the skeleton with flesh and blood and emotions. I’m reattaching the bones in the right order. This year, I’m doing it right. Sort of. Because…deadlines. (Yes, mulitple.)
But I’m competitive, remember? And far more so when I am competing with my own sense of failure and self worth. I will meet my goals. I will finish and edit CHRISTMAS MOON. I will finish THE DEVIL’S CUT (editing is for December and January!). I will finish the edits on the sooper sekrit thing. Because I have no choice. I can’t let myself take the easy road, throwing up my hands and saying, “Yo! Idiot! Bit off more than you can chew, dumb ass. Quit now. Make it easy.”
Oh. Hell. No. It’s never been easy. And I’m not about to take that way out now. So…I’ll see you FIFTEEN DAYS from now, on November 30, with a new Christmas novella to release, edits completed, and TDC with 100K total words ready to be carved up like a Christmas turkey in December.
Now get to work.