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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

No, No, NaNo. IWSG November 2017

It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read posts from other members, click here. This months co-hosts:

Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton,  MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass.

Today's optional IWSG Question: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project. Have any of them gone on to be published?

November sweeps in here amid the yellow leaves of the black birch trees, the in-and-out light from storm clouds scuttling across the skies. I’ve transitioned from my back-room writing desk where I freeze in the winter to the living room at the front of the house. There, sixty-year-old cast iron heaters keep my hands warm enough to type. My writing table is positioned in front of a window and when not concentrating, I watch squirrels scavenging for acorns and black walnuts while the last of the rusty pine needles float down. We live on a busy street. I’m an early morning writer and now, the sun comes up so late I have to turn on the light while I’m working which makes me feel exposed. The other day, a neighbor I rarely see said, “I see you in your front window when I leave for work. What the heck are you doing there?”  

“I’m writing,” I said and it’s true. But these days, I feel like a fraud.

November. The month during which many with drive, ambition and more creativity than me jump into National Novel Writing month, aka NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short, while, I as usual, do not. Actually, I gave it some thought this year. I’m an inch into a new project. No—a centimeter. For me, that means thinking time. Do I really have a story? I can see the beginning, perhaps the end, but there’s a whole lot of pondering to be done to flesh out the middle. Without a clear idea, I couldn’t possibly get fifty thousand words written in thirty days. I marvel at those with the focus and planning to do so.
And then there’s this. I’m weary. Can I do it again? Can I spend years working on another book that will only remain stored for oblivion on my flash drive?

Confession time. Each November, I feel left behind in the writing world. When I dared myself to try to write a novel seven years ago, I had no idea how hard it would be. Nor did I understand what a struggle it would be to improve oh, just about everything related to my writing while working on my second, third and fourth attempts.

Then there’s the reading. So many talented authors out there. The three novels I’ve read and loved over the last month alone have me wondering if I have it in me to create a story good enough to raise an agent’s eyebrows. 

This month things become grey and drab and my feelings mirror the weather. During November, my most insecure insecurities rise up like leftover Halloween ghosts. I’m getting older. I’m running out of time. What do I leave behind if I never publish a book?

Gloom and doom, baby. I know this is just the pre-winter blues. Nonetheless, I leave Nano to those with stronger hearts.

What's your NaNo experience been like?


Pat Garcia said...

Hi Liza,
I read your submission this month with interest. I've done NaNo off and on since 2009 and finished three times. But not because I planned it all through. I finished because I didn't have a plan. I just wrote. These three manuscripts are sitting on my computer waiting to be revised and so I've decided no more NaNo until I get these manuscripts revised and in order. But that neither here nor there. What struck me most about your article this month was your fear of not being good enough and having to learn so much to get where you want to go with your writing. I just want to say go ahead and learn whatever you have to learn because in writing, what I have learned is that you never stop learning. That you're reading is wonderful. I love to read also and read so many good books. I'm not published yet but reading good books that impress me give me the impetus I need to keep writing and keep seeking an agent.
Just wanted to share these few thoughts with you and I hope they encourage you to write even though you may have the writing blues right now. .
All the best.
Shalom aleichem,
Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

Unknown said...

What an authentic and wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. NaNoWriMo isn't for everyone, and it sounds as if you have a pretty great writing routine already established. You have to do what works for you, do what brings you joy and satisfaction on a regular basis. The description of your writing space in the front living room sounds wonderful, by the way, minus the goldfish bowl effect. Not to worry, though. Daylight savings is next weekend. Happy wordsmithing!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Don't feel left out. I've only participated in November once. A lot of writers never participate.
And you do have what it takes. Go read my first book. If that doesn't give you hope, I don't know what will.

Nicola said...

I ponder a lot too. After all there is no point in sitting in front of the computer unless you have something to write. Good luck with all that you do.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I can totally relate to your feelings because I am a slow writer and seem to have little time for my own writing with all my contract writing. But since I've picked it up after four years, I've enjoyed seeing how I'm growing as a writer and the process. And if I never even try to query, I'm happy just being in my creative space a bit and finding that part of myself. Because I'm not sure I want to take on publishing with all the marketing even if I could. You're not alone and not left out.

Julie Flanders said...

I can relate to your thoughts as well. I haven't finished a novel in several years now and the last two drafts I finished are still sitting collecting dust. I signed up for NaNo hoping to get my butt in gear but I did the same thing last year and that didn't work out as I'd planned.
You're definitely not alone.

Joanne said...

deep thoughts scuttling through your brain along with the storm clouds in the sky. I feel ya. I'm there with you in spirit. I've done NaNo twice. It was sorta fun, but by the end I hated my characters and story. Did not work with the fiction one.
Fraud is a good word. I have doubts all the time after reading excellent books. BUT, I get reassured by fellow writers,as you should.
You are not a fraud. You are a very good writer. Re-read this post - just a teensy example of great description and feeling.
Keep that light burning and muddle through November. I will too.

Leigh Caron said...

I did NaNoWriMo one year. 30,000 words later I quit. No passion. Writing for me is a joy. I felt no joy so the now only pressure for writing is from me.

Sadira Stone said...

It sounds like you know what works for you, and rushing in without a plan isn't it. I hope you find a way over, around, under and through your November writing blues.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

Hey, don't feel bad about not doing NaNo. If it's not a tool that works for you, then don't try and change yourself just because lots of people like it.

I totally get being depressed both by November and by the endless revisions needed to turn my pulpy masses of words into actual novels. Go out for a walk any time the sun shines, and do what you can with writing. It does occur to me that maybe one good thing about NaNo over what I'm doing (revisions) is that, for me, drafting is a pretty happy activity. Good for a gloomy month (maybe I can do it in January and February. Those are the gloomiest here).

Nick Wilford said...

NaNo isn't for everyone. It might not even be for most. Everyone has their own pace so you're definitely not a fraud as long as words are going on the page. That you might have an idea of the end to your new project sounds pretty wonderful. I never know where I'm going. Just keep working and don't get hung up on others' progress too much - good luck.

emaginette said...

I write and win, but I'm so exhausted it takes months to recover. I'm opting out this year. 'Nuff said. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Ann said...

I've done Nano but I try not to make it a prison for me. This year I'm finishing a wip and hoping to polish it for submission by Feb. Nano is a great tool if it works for you.

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Jan Morrison said...

Oh could I resonate with this post! I love NaNo-ing but... I've also been in a blue tinged slump. I have three books totally finished - I'm not totally sure but I think I started all three in a NaNo or a BuNo (the Watery Tart's challenge). I have 2 more wips that may have enough words to be called novels but I wouldn't even call them shitty first drafts yet. Yet, this year I've done it again! I've started something new. One good thing is that it is a memoir of my time in Labrador so am not too worried about the plot as is usual.

What resonates with me in your post is that sense of existential angst you describe so beautifully. Who cares about my little bits and pieces? Why should they? Why should I?

Your writing on your blog has always thrilled me. You are such a good wordsmith. Please continue to be generous with your writing.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I wish I could dive in and enjoy, but I have too many DLP duties to keep up with. It's been so long since I worked on my own stories, I wonder if I'll remember how when I start again.

Connie said...

I don't do the NaNoWriMo challenge, but I have a lot of admiration for those who attempt it. I prefer to write at my own pace instead of producing copy just for the sake of reaching a word count goal.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've never done NaNo, and like you, I admire the people who power through that. Writing that fast is not for me. I read a lot also, and there is so much talent out there. I often think I could never write something as good. But I keep trying. I would never get any writing done if my desk was at a window.