Going Beyond National Novel Writing Month

I’ve got two shiny new badges in my sidebar. One is the JuNoWriMo Winner’s badge and the other is the CampNaNoWriMo Winner’s Badge. That’s right. I did it. I wrote 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. Actually, I wrote 53,137 of a novel in 29 days, but who’s counting? Answer: Me, because that’s kind of the point. It’s about the numbers.

I’ve got the numbers. I had the numbers in November for the official National Novel Writing Month. What I don’t have is a completed novel. I have 50,000 words (give or take a few) of two novels and neither one of them is even close to finished. That, my friends, is not the point of National Novel Writing Month. I’m supposed to complete a novel. Problem is, I don’t know if I can.

If I’ve learned anything from the NaNoWriMo experience, it’s that vomiting words on a page is not how a novel gets written. Not for me, at least. It takes me a good 30,000 words to even find the heart of the story and those first 30,000 words? Are mostly garbage and completely unsalvageable. It’s probably my fault. I don’t outline before I start the word purge and nothing good comes from writing on the fly, hoping something that someone might actually want to read spews forth at 3 AM when the only thing keeping me awake is copious amounts of tobacco and coffee. Substitute alcohol for the coffee, and maybe. Isn’t that how Hemingway did it?

Hemingway drinking and writing

I love him.

I’m kidding, of course. Not about Hemingway. That’s true. But I’m no Hemingway, neither in writing ability nor in alcohol tolerance. And I’m never going to Spain to watch bull fighting.

Point is, I need to find a new way–a better way–my way– to write a novel. It will involve planning and dedication and hard work and patience and a basic grasp of punctuation and grammar usage–none of which are my strong points. Seriously, the odds aren’t good. Thing is, I’m not a math person. I’m a words person. And I have those in droves.

Now, to take these two pieces of a novel and decide which has more “viability”( By “viability,” I mean “which sucks less”) and devote myself to it. Get it in my head that a novel is not written in a month. It will take time and sweat and a schedule and learning how to use commas.

I can do it. I will do it. Otherwise, I’m a wannabe novelist. That’s unacceptable. I’m aiming for the big prize: The Unpublished Novelist. Because that is a title I can be proud of.

Coincidentally, I learned something new this week. Did you know that it is incorrect to use two spaces after a period? No, I’m not kidding. It’s a rule. The Chicago Manual of Style says so. That blows my mind. Anyway, in my endeavor to follow grammar and punctuation rules, this post was written using only a single-space after each period.

That is progress.

Related Posts:

NaNoWriMo Dropout
NaNoWriMo Week One: Six Lessons 
NaNoWriMo: The Last Three Days 


I Won NaNoWriMo. Now What?

It’s official.  I won NaNoWriMo.  I wrote 50,477 words of my novel and I can display a way cool badge on the blog.

So what now?  Do I have a complete novel?  Not even close.  I don’t even have half of a first draft.  I reread a little of it and realized the first 20,000 words can be condensed into about 2,000.   The story I wanted to tell didn’t get rolling until about 40,000 words in.  I have no ending.  It will be months before I have anything remotely close to a workable first draft.  I didn’t meet any of the goals I set for myself, other than meeting word count.

When I clicked the “verify” button and saw “Winner,”  I didn’t feel like a winner.  I felt like a big fat failure.  I didn’t write a post about NaNoWriMo on December 1 like everyone else because I didn’t think I’d accomplished anything.  Not really.  I was disappointed in the whole experience.

I was an idiot.

I absolutely accomplished something!  I started a novel.  I established a writing habit.

I learned things about myself as a writer.  I know that I write better at night, with music blasting in my ears.  I use the word, “just” too much.  I suck at describing setting.  I get carried away with love scenes and if I wanted to, I could totally write a sleazy, melodramatic romance novel, which, in turn, taught me it’s okay and even wise, to use the backspace button.

Most importantly, I have a Work In Progress, which I can refer to in random conversations  when I want to feel important.  I can say, “I’m writing a book…”  In my novel….”  or, if I’m feeling particularly pretentious, I can call it my “WIP” and explain what that means, thereby annoying dazzling my audience with my condescension intellect.

I AM a Winner.

National Novel Writing Month is over.  It’s December and time to focus on Christmas and that long 2 1/2 week vacation.  Oh, and that other goal I set in January.  The one where I said I’d read 50 books in 2011.

2011 Reading Challenge

2011 Reading Challenge

Erinhasread 31 books toward her goal of 50 books.


19 books in 27 days.  Completely doable.  I’ll keep everyone updated on my progress through the blog, Facebook, and Twitter.**  I know you care deeply if I meet another random personal goal.

**Not really.  

Related Articles:
NaNoWriMo:  Are You In?
NaNoWriMo Week One:  Six Lessons
NaNoWriMo Dropout
NaNoWriMo:  The Last Three Days

NaNoWriMo: The Last Three Days

NaNoWriMo ends in three short days.  I can’t believe how fast it’s gone.  Of course, November is a busy month.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  November is the second worst month to have NaNoWriMo. (December is the worst.)  There is, of course, the satisfying feeling of accomplishment at the end of the year.  If you win, that is.  If you don’t, well, you’ve got your first New Year’s Resolution.

I’ve got enough New Year’s Resolutions to break.  As of today, I have 47,796/50,000 words.  According to my nifty stats page over at NaNos site, I have to write 551 words a day to finish on time.  That’s not really my style.  I write huge chunks at a time.  Ideally, I’d be doing that now, instead of writing on the blog, but you know how that goes.  I’ll probably wait until November 30 and validate my novel at 11:59 PM.  I like the drama.

I say I’m going to validate my novel.  That’s not exactly accurate.  I’ll validate a healthy portion of a novel.  It won’t be finished.  In fact, most of what I validate probably won’t be in the finished novel.  This is some meandering, indulgent stuff, people.  I’m doing what Stephen King calls, “Writing with the door closed.”  (From his book, On Writing, which is excellent.  Read it.  It’ll change your whole perspective on writing.  Good stuff.)  The next few months (or longer) will be editing and rewriting, all with the door wide open.  Open to people who aren’t me, reading what I wrote.  That changes things.   And for the better.

In the meantime, I am willing to show a portion of what I wrote.  Some people think they want to read that.  Well, here it is.  My actual words from my actual novel, in no particular order.





Who Do You Write Like?

There’s a nifty little tool that will tell you what famous author you write like, when you paste a sample of your work in the Analyzer.  It’s I Write Like.  I’ve used it before with some of my blog posts.  The results were…mixed.  I got Stephanie Meyer and Margaret Mitchell.  One is a Pulitzer Prize winner, the other is not.  I leave it to you to determine which is which.  But hey, either way, I’ve got what it takes to sell a lot of books, right?  Yeah.

Pulitzer Prize for literature

This could be mine one day...

I forgot about the site.  Then, when looking around on the wordpress forums, I saw the thread,  “See Who You Write Like”, started by TheInsanityAquarium.    I started thinking.  Unusual, I know.

I’m writing a novel.  I have over 20,000 words I could plug into this baby.  This isn’t some silly blog post.  This is me, as a novelist.  Who do I write like?

So, I went to the WIP, and copied and pasted each session into the I Write Like analyzer.  (This and Words With Friends is what I do when I should be adding to my word count.  Procrastinate much? )  Anyway, here’s what I got.

Lewis Carrol (once)
Kurt Vonnegut (three times)
Ian Fleming ( SIX times)

Me, the dork that I am, Googled each author and their writing style.  (I could have written 1,000s of words in the time it took.  *sigh*)   I wanted to know what “you write like…” meant.

Lewis Carrol

Lewis Carroll, the well-known author of Alice'...

  • “Frequently use italics for emphasis” and employ “odd usage of parentheses and capital letters.”  Viewed as “unprofessional.”  Source:  Down the Rabbit Hole and Back
  • Use nonsense words.

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut speaking at Case Western Reserve...

(I went to the man himself for style advice)

  • Find a subject you care about
  • Do not ramble, though.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Have the guts to cut.
  • Sound like yourself.
  • Say what you mean to say.
  • Pity the readers.
Ian Fleming oil painting

Ian Fleming (Keep in mind, I got this SIX times)

There is actually a web page called, “How to Write Like Ian Fleming.” 

  • Describe food in detail, but make sure it’s good food.
  • Have your characters drink plenty of alcohol.
  • Include sensuous details about clothes.
  • Let your characters take time to relax and enjoy themselves now and then.

“The Fleming style, which he consciously adopted and employed in all his work, includes details calculated to excite the senses and give readers a taste of luxury and hedonism.”


There you have it.  Who (and What) I write like.  Three very different writers from three distinct time periods.  So what does this mean for me?


Well, except for the fact that I write like a dude.


Just for fun, who do you write like?  I’d love to see who you get and what you think of it.  Here’s the link again:  I Write Like…

Growing a Blog

Image via Wikipedia

In a surreal moment this week,  someone asked me for blogging advice.  Me.  The techno-phobe who still sweats buckets every time I hit the publish button.  I was flattered.

In her request for advice, she said something very interesting:

It seems like yours [blog] grew enormously in a short amount of time.

Has it really been a short time?  Sometimes it feels like I’ve been blogging forever.  So I went back and checked the date of my first post. No, it hasn’t been forever.  It’s been almost exactly 9 months–long enough to grow a baby, my blog baby.

In January 2011, I was terrified nobody would read my blog.  Or worse, they’d read it and hate it.  That didn’t happen.  I blogged religiously for 2 solid months, with only friends and family giving me feedback, before I got my first “real” commenter (sorry friends and family, you don’t count.  Obligation and all that.)  Not only my first commenter, but my first “internet” friend.**  It was me and her for the longest time.  I kept at it for two more months and steadily gained more commenters and subscribers.  More friends.

**I adore her and her story, which you can find at Love Versus Goliath.  Thank you so much, Robyn.

People scoff at the idea of “internet friends.”  Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion.  I have had so much love and support from people on Momfog.  When my house burned down, the offers of help were phenomenal.  One lovely woman sent me a care package from the Netherlands with local foods and some handmade cards and ornaments from her and her children.  When I decorate my tree, I’ll know “internet friends” are “real friends.”

Aren't they cute?

So, has my blog “grown enormously?”  Based on my expectations on January 24, I’d have to say yes.  I have more subscribers than I ever thought possible and I have loyal commenters whom I love.  But it’s not only about the numbers.

The writing has changed.  In the beginning, I was excited and nervous.  The posts were safe: kids, housecleaning, parenting, spa days.  Then I found Write On Edge (formerly the red dress club.)  They inspired me to branch out, try writing a fiction piece now and then, focus my writing on a particular subject and keep to a word count.  If I was nervous before, I was on the verge of a breakdown then.  Again, the support of other awesome bloggers got me through it.

Now what?  Do I sit back and relax?  Keep doing what I’m doing?  After all, someone asked me for blogging advice.

Of course not!

The Blog is still growing.  I’m fielding offers.  I’m doing book reviews.  I’m hosting giveaways.  I’m starting a weekly feature.  Who knows what else I’ll come up with?

Nine months can grow a baby, but it takes time and effort to grow a mature adult.  I’ve only just begun.


NaNoWriMo: Are You In?

NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) begins on November 1.  What is NaNoWriMo?  Basically, it’s writing a 50,000 word novel in exactly 30 days.  Basically, it’s crazy.  And I think I might give it a try.

Why on Earth would anyone want to do this?  Well, if you’re like me, you’ve read a lot of novels and found yourself wondering, “How in the world did this ever make it into print?”  You think to yourself, “I can write better than that.”  Then you smugly go about your life, resting in the knowledge you could write a novel.  If you felt like it.  If you had the time.  If you knew the right people.  If…

Well, this is an excellent opportunity to write that novel we all know we’re capable of writing.  Expectations are already a little low.  Come on, 50,000 words in 30 days?  You know that a lot of what your writing will be garbage, filled with unnecessary adverbs and long philosophical passages that seem brilliant when you’re churning them out at 2 am but are ridiculously cliché and downright dumb when you read them after a good night’s sleep.  But I think that’s part of the fun.  Who knows?  You might find a new direction in the meanderings of your mind that you can actually use later.  When November 30 is over and you start the excruciating process of rewrites and vicious edits.

This is directly from the NaNoWriMo website:

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

Sounds good to me.

The best part about the whole thing is that you’re a “winner” if you accomplish the 50,000 words in 30 days and you get a PDF certificate and a nifty badge for your blog.  Normally, I’m not a “you participate you get a trophy” kind of gal, but if you accomplish this, you are definitely a winner.

I know one person who participates in NaNoWriMo.  Rebekah Loper, Writer, is where I first heard of NaNoWriMo and instantly thought of “Nanu, Nanu” from Mork and Mindy (which I now say in my head every time I see the word NaNoWriMo.)  I hope she can give me some advice before I start this thing.  I’d like to know what I’m getting myself into.

So, what about you?  Do you think you could do it?  Do you want to join me and the 200,000 other crazy people who think they can pull this off?  I’d love to do this with someone.  It might be fun.

I know I’m not the only one who thinks they can write a novel but has always been too scared to try.  This is the perfect opportunity to do so and probably the most stress-free way to do it.  So what if it stinks?  You only had 30 days to do it.  Maybe, just maybe, it will be good.  Really good.  Potentially good. Kind of good.  Whatever.  What have you got to lose?

It’s now or never.  Join me?  

What is Your Celebrity Nickname? and Other Deep Questions

Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes in Sunnyvale, CA

Image via Wikipedia

My Mondays are always awful.  If something is going to go wrong, it’s going to go wrong on a Monday.  When I think about facing another Monday the expression, “I’d rather have my teeth pulled out” comes to mind.  So that’s what I’m going to do.  I’m having my wisdom teeth pulled.  By the time you read this, I should be in bed in a drug-induced stupor, oblivious to any of the drama that is going on around me.  If everything goes according to plan, of course.  Considering my typical Monday this might be too much to hope for.  Can you say “Dry Socket?”

Of course, a mom cannot go MIA for an entire day without making preparations.  Laundry.  Planning an easy dinner.  Writing down everything that needs doing on Monday.  You know, fun stuff.  I don’t have time to write anything new,  but I’m going to continue from Friday. I got more comments in that one day than I have since I started this thing.   Who would’ve thought the subject of words would generate so much discussion? 

What do you think? 

It seems most people don’t like the word “blog.”  What word would be a good substitute? 


Celebrity Names.  If you or you and your significant other were famous what would you be called in gossip mags? 

Ex:  Brangelina, RPatz, TomKat


“Foreign” phrases.  For those non-Americans, what are some words or phrases that Americans might not be familiar with or might not use very often? 


Misused words or overly used expressions. 

“Ironic” comes to mind for the first.  For the second,  Invisible Mikey provided some good ones (It is what it is, Awesome, and Whatever).  I use 2 of the 3 on  a regular basis, but I see his point.  What are some others?

I look forward to your responses.  I hope to be back on Tuesday, but I may decide to just stay in bed.  After my parent/teacher conference, of course.  An excellent plan to schedule that the day after oral surgery, don’t you think?