It’s time for the last Insecure Writer’s Support Group meeting of 2022. The IWSG convenes the first Wednesday of every month to commiserate over worries, fears, doubts, and struggles.
I feel almost like my NaNo win was cheated, since a fair amount came from creative nonfiction (journal entries, blog posts, etc.) and material that didn’t make it into my master file for Almost As an Afterthought. I also didn’t spend as much time writing each day as I should’ve.
However, I did redeem myself for my humiliating wins of the last two years, where I only crawled across the finish line on the final day. I also finally got back to writing in my journal Mary every day, after another few months of hiatus. (I’m long overdue to write an updated, improved post about my journalling history!) With the obvious exception of 29 November (George Harrison’s 21st death anniversary), 99% of my journal entries were about NaNo and my writing habits.
You can tell which days are Saturdays from the sharp drops! I don’t use my computer from Friday sundown to Saturday nightfall.
While I was writing to Mary (named after The Monkees’ song “Mary, Mary” and Pete Townshend’s solo song “Mary”), a major realisation about my writing (or lack thereof) in recent years dawned on me. Because lockdown wrecked my mental health and normal daily wordcounts, I turned my primary focus to editing books for publication and working on slightly tweaked new editions. During the two years pre-lockdown, I also spent a lot of time on that pursuit.
Hence, I somehow latched into permanent editor mode and forgot how to write the way I did for the previous 35ish years of my life. Joyfully, uninhibited, letting books write me instead of the other way around, saving the rewriting and editing for later, just focusing on getting the raw story out first.
I became all about writing slowly, carefully, cognizant of what’s worth keeping, what’s trash, what should be moved to a later book, what could be repurposed for later in this book. Hence, writing and rewriting a phrase or sentence over and over. Deciding to junk lines that don’t work. Realising as I’m writing that a scene, section, or dialogue is clutter or crap that doesn’t belong there, and moving it into a file of deleted material or only keeping it in the NaNo file.
That never happened to me before. With chutzpahdik confidence, I thought every last word was gold and would automatically remain. Only during edits would I look at the material with fresh eyes and sort out the clutter.
I ended up going the total opposite direction and approaching all first drafts with the critical eyes of an editor as I’m actively creating them.
While I stand by my decisions about what to work on and not work on during NaNo, and am glad I got a solid start on the near-total rewrite of Afterthought, I do feel in hindsight that perhaps it wasn’t the most ideal time to start. I eventually began writing out of order and leaving chapters unfinished to get back to later, since the words weren’t flowing as effortlessly as I hoped, and some parts needed slower and more careful writing due to incorporating research.
Also, I was writing without the context of a completed rewrite of The Very Last, esp. considering there are several very big changes in Cinni’s life in the second half of TVL.
During the last 20 minutes or so, I was frantically typing rambling, incoherent nonsense and clutter I knew wouldn’t make it into the master file. I just wanted to get as many words as possible before midnight and get to the next goal of 62K.
Not bad considering the last two years!
Once December started, it was like a veil lifted, and my normal writing finally resumed with my resumption of TVL. One of this year’s winner prizes is a free title upload at IngramSpark, so I’m hoping to have that book all polished and ready by the 15 March deadline. I obviously won’t rush if it’s not ready by then, but it’s a good goal to work towards.
Did you do NaNo this year? What was your experience like? Have you ever redeemed yourself after a bad patch or disappointing experience?