November IWSG—Back to last year’s NaNo book


The Insecure Writer’s Support Group convenes the first Wednesday of the month. Participants share their worries, insecurities, triumphs, hopes, and fears.

This month, the IWSG question is:

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer?

As a historical writer, I absolutely love the rich research which comes with the territory. I also love bringing these bygone worlds to life, virtually travelling to so many places, and living vicariously through my characters.

It might surprise some, since my “getting ready” routine consists of throwing on clothes, packing up whatever I’m bringing with me, and going out, but I particularly enjoy researching and writing about vintage clothes, shoes, hats, even makeup. In so doing, I’m living vicariously through characters who represent a type of woman I know I’ll never be.


I decided to switch gears re: which book to rebel with during NaNo. For quite awhile, my pace on my primary WIP had slowed to a crawl, and I just wasn’t feeling very inspired. Maybe it’s because the flashback Part II ended up way longer than I’d predicted, or maybe I’d been with these characters for too long of a stretch.

It also would’ve been a logistical nightmare to calculate daily and overall wordcount, and copy and paste the material into the validator, since I’d be writing out of order, editing, fleshing-out, and deleting text which needs replaced with actual narration instead of serving as wraparound filling in the blanks.

I tried going back to my fourth Russian historical on 30 October, and the difference was just amazing. I wrote over 1,000 words in just two 20-minute sprints, and knew the decision had been made. Last NaNo wasn’t the best time to begin that book, even though I did write 71K. As a result, I hadn’t touched it since 30 December.

I copied and pasted the rest of Chapter 14 into a new file, to which will be added each new chapter file to be written during November. So much easier to calculate wordcount that way!


I’m also thrilled to have discovered some unplanned secondary characters. I wanted to give Sonyechka, Lyuba and Ivan’s next-youngest child, a fellow outcast friend at her new school. All I knew was that she was Catholic, and thus the only other non-Protestant at that school. Then I looked up countries with a high Catholic percentage, outside of obvious ones like Poland, France, and Italy.

I thought she was all Croatian at first, but then I decided to give her a Croatian father and Serbian mother. Her name is Kleopatra Novak, and she’s my latest left-handed character. Her family just immigrated from Banja Luka, Bosnia, and survived the horrors of the fascist Ustashi régime in the puppet Independent State of Croatia.

Kleopatra’s father is an archaeology professor who survived Jasenovac, and her mother is a surgeon who served with the partisans. Kleopatra and her older brother were hidden by a Bosnian Muslim family. Prof. Novak is a perfect patient for Lyuba and Ivan’s son-in-law Andrey, a future psychiatrist who wants to heal people traumatized by the war.

I do hope once again to be a NaNo overachiever, but at a realistic overachieving wordcount. I can’t stand the humble-braggers who say things like, “I was so lazy yesterday and only wrote 30,000 words!” or “I really failed NaNo because I only wrote 700K instead of a million.”

Are you doing NaNo? Did you ever change your mind last-minute re: what you were going to work on? Ever started working on a book you came to realize wasn’t the right thing to write at that time? How long did it take to go back? Ever discovered unplanned characters?

P.S.: I recently wrote a guest blog for 4thWaveNow, “Transing the dead: The erasure of gender-defiant role models from history.” It discusses the ridiculous new trend of declaring women like Joan of Arc, Radclyffe Hall, and George Eliot were really men, and that men like Prince and David Bowie really had to be women.


10 thoughts on “November IWSG—Back to last year’s NaNo book

  1. Wow you’ve got this NaNo thing DOWN!! Congrats on the stats and the work you’ve already achieved. I love that you write with a Russian flavor. I’ve always been intrigued by Russia: the language and the landscape and the history all seem so mysterious! And the names. Ah…beautiful!

    Best of luck with NaNo and with your new characters. I love it when they surprise me!



  2. Research is so much fun, especially if it’s for a historical book. You have to do so much research that you start to feel as though you live in that time.

    Good luck with NaNo!!!


  3. Good luck with yout NaNo. Hope you’ll get everything you want from it 🙂

    I am doing NaNo, a brand new project after working at the same project for six years (no I haven’t abandoned the other, I’m just diverting from it for a while).
    Discovered unexpected characters? All the time.


  4. LOL! Ask me if I’m surprised about your answer to the question. NOPE.

    I don’t NaNo, but I’m wishing you epicness. I hear everyone else doing it, and I want to jump in and play too, but it’s not something I could manage…around my daily schedule. Have to keep the stress down, eh?


  5. I agree with Crystal’s comments ^ Not surprised by your answer . . . boy, it’d be fun to see all your research! Good luck with NaNo, but it’s not for me. Tried it one year and about died!


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