Losing NaNoWriMo — but winning a solid start to a novel

The bad news: for the second consecutive year, I failed at NaNoWriMo.

The good news: I actually love the book I’m writing.

Okay — maybe not love. Love is a serious word. Love develops after putting in some serious hard work with some(one)(thing) and succumbing to a sensation beyond our control.

Let’s say I’m heavily in like with my book.

So what went wrong in 2010? Unlike last year, I didn’t have the ready-made excuse of a mid-NaNo vacation to fall back on. There were no trips to California, no incredibly taxing projects at work — just little old me sitting at my desk, staring at a calendar that was quickly filling up and losing my motivation to keep cranking out the words.

To be fair (or to further bury myself?), I did quite a bit of writing in November — just not on my as-yet-untitled novel. I cranked out columns at work and reached out with my audience, asking them to send me their holiday traditions in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I’ve loved reading everyone’s letters and replied to all of them — not to mention the 40+ handwritten Christmas cards I sent to you, my lovely friends, and friends and family.

I’ve written lists and addresses, letters and book reviews. Emails, rebuttals and love notes. Hundreds of tweets.

But books? No books.

My final word count for NaNoWriMo ’10 stands at 22,277 words. In the days since the project officially ended, I’ve added a few thousand words and left Josie, the travel writer with a bruised heart (and ego), in the hands of a new editor at the paper where she’s taken a part-time position. Thinking she’ll avoid having to travel to New York and catch up with her snobbish ex-boyfriend, Josie channels her energy into helping the floundering Sentinel outside Washington, D.C.

And everything is peachy until the reporter’s notebook is suddenly turned around on her. When her ex-boyfriend’s nude painting is accepted into a prominent New York art gallery, the whole world wants to know the name of the seductive-yet-innocent nymph captured on his canvas — and Nathan, bitter and angry at Josie for ending their melting relationship, is all too happy to tell them.

And then Josie’s behind is all over the art scene.

And she’s none too happy about it.

I’m not entirely sure where this is going — plus, I need a love interest in here . . . and STAT. A women’s fiction novel without a love interest? Let’s be serious. It’s not that the romance needs to be the central focus of the story, but it certainly needs to be there. And since I’ve pretty well burned the bridge between Nate and Josie (or did they burn it themselves?), there’s no going back there. I will have to have some resolution between them, though; everyone deserves closure. But I’ll focus on that after I’ve actually reached the denouement!

In short, I’m not giving up on my project — not at all. I just didn’t have it in me to crank out a book in record time, though I heartily congratulate all those who did! I do plan on participating in future NaNos — and maybe tasting sweet victory once again. If nothing else, I love that NaNoWriMo gets me writing daily and thinking about a major project . . . something beyond my short blog posts and 450-word columns. I like plotting and delving deep into a character’s psyche — and having the r0om to really do that. I like space.

Now let’s just see if I can fill it up with another 27,000+ words.

11 thoughts on “Losing NaNoWriMo — but winning a solid start to a novel

  1. Still Meg, you wrote, which is an achievement all by itself. I think it would be hard to just sit down on demand and crank out 50,000 words in a month. Especially when you have a full-time career going on at the same time. The book sounds like it has a great start! And just remember, love is found in the most bizarre places!


  2. You definitely didn’t fail! It’s always a win to get more words on the page. 22,000 words is INCREDIBLE. I don’t know how anyone writes a novel in 30 days but kudos to them. Good luck with Josie’s story 🙂


  3. I am very, VERY happy to hear that you’re happy with your NaNo novel, even if you didn’t “win” this year!! 😀 That’s almost more important, isn’t it?

    Good luck and keep writing!


  4. Meg, I ended November in the same boat. I really like where my book is going and am REALLY glad I decided to use that time to start the sequel to my first WIP, which I’m still not done with. But I feel like I’ve made some awesome progress on both. I did actually jump back into writing last night, after a couple of weeks off. I was down about barely even getting to the halfway point in NaNo, but I felt like I jumped right back on track and it felt good! I hope you continue with your novel. I really want to read it! And can you believe we wrote so many words in just a month’s time? Whoah mama! Think of what we could get done if that’s what we did on a daily basis, not just after work writing and blog writing and book reading and loving our men lol 🙂


  5. There is no failure here!!! You wrote and who needs that much pressure…when your book is done its done…meanwhile…you have a life to live…forget about 50,000 words!!!


  6. Your story sounds so good – I wanna know what happens next!

    22,000+ words is a huge accomplishment. Even more so for loving what you’ve started. Looking forward to seeing where the rest of the book goes!


  7. you put forth solid effort! books aren’t written in a month, my friend. and hey, at least you made and effort. i won’t even open the document i started a million years ago–a travel/humor memoir of our road trip.

    you are flourishing professionally, personally, and bloggally (lol) so celebrate those things! xxoxoox


  8. For a moment I forgot you were summarising your own work, I was going to write a comment asking which book is was you’d read, it sounds really good! I don’t think it’s a failure, you got pretty far and it sure seems like you’ve made good use of time. Well done 🙂


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