Hello friends, I am crawling out of my NaNoWriMo-induced hole to a sea of Movember moustaches plastered on my friends’ upper lips, a dusting of snow on the ground… and I think I’m going to climb back in, to be honest. I haven’t made my 50k yet but I’m on track and the biggest story challenges have been worked out, the fores all shadowed, plot devices oiled up and ready to run, and now is the time to write the fun stuff.
I had a particularly good year NaNoWriMo this year, including our rural/elsewhere group being assigned an ML for the first time, which did wonders to create a sense of community, our weekly write-ins taking place on discord (online). She is also a generous ML, sending us swag packets including stickers from our previous NaNoWriMo years – which made me squee with delight because stickers turn me into a twelve-year-old every time. She also tossed in some chocolate writing fuel, a notebook, sweet bookmarks, and a tiny bottle I’m to open in case of emergency (I haven’t yet). This was on her own dime, not NaNo’s, to which all I can say is thank you.
On a fun note, someone introduced me to 4thwords, a web-based fantasy writing game wherein you have to write so many words in an alotted time frame to defeat a monster and move on in your quest. If you like games, it could be a wonderful tool to build your daily writing habit. There is a fee of $4 per month, but also a thirty day free trail to see if it works for you. Several of my writing friends are using it now and loving it, so I’m going to try it out after NaNoWriMo is over. Click here to go to the site and see if it’s something that will get you writing too.
It’s November, and November is a magical month for writers. Its the month we all get together and stop talking about writing, complaining about writing, etc etc, and we write. The official goal of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is 50 000 words, or 1 667 written words per day. The point of the thing is taking up a challenge with a wealth of support around you, and that’s where the magic lies.
This year, I have a list of some twenty-five orphaned story ideas I gleaned from my notebooks. As many words as it takes, I vowed to my would-be stories, I will write you this November.
Now, every past NaNoWriMo I’ve participated in, I wrote by hand and tallied up my words on the corner of every page at the end of the day. I prefer to write this way, and I’d won NaNoWriMo enough times to feel confident doing it this way (if you’re curious how to verify, check the rules for ‘the Luddite clause’ for instructions). However, with this year’s goal I need to hit some serious wordage so I decided to type it on the laptop instead.
This is probably the moment in the story where the universe laughs maniacally and the heroine’s fate is sealed. Or it would be, if I was a heroine or a goddess and not a scruffy looking story hunter fresh from the woods.
I started off, ploughing through the first short story a random number generator chose from list. Everything was wonderful and that glorious creative high I always get from a November writing spree was settling into my brain, turbocharging my creativity when a storm with 100km (that’s at least a million mph) winds loomed on the weather forecast.
I backed up my project and I warned my friends to do the same. I can only hope they listened and no stories were lost.
Rain splattered the house, winds ripped at the roof. The power went out. Trees crashed down in the enchanted forest surrounding the house.
The howling and crashing woke both of the kids, frightened by the fury outside their windows. We pulled a mattress into the living room, far from the windows facing the wind, and snuggled into a groggy, sleepless night.
The storm faded by morning but the power didn’t come back on. My laptop battery was strong enough I didn’t worry that first day. I kept writing, twitching now and again for the lost ability to google facts in a pinch, but happy to have a distraction from the outage. The girls played with Lego and roasted hotdogs in our fireplace and thought it all a grand adventure.
I found a branch flung from a tree and lodged a solid 30 cm into the lawn by the force of the last night’s wind. It stuck up into the air, a failed assassin. I left it there and wrote it into a story.
The second day my eldest left for school and the baby didn’t mind the lack of electricity once the sun came up. The freezer was failing. The fridge didn’t smell right. Despite only turning on my laptop for writing into a word document, the battery ran low. I missed that encouraging little bar graph on the NaNoWriMo stats page like an addict misses their fix.
We don’t have a generator, so I started our pick-up and ran an extension cord from the outlet in the box into the house, you know, just like grandpa used to do before electricity. I tell ya, we live in The Future, folks. I charged the laptop while I charged my phone in the cigarette lighter. The fridge and freezer got their turn and we weren’t any worse for the power outage. It was almost fun.
The third day school was cancelled, and the sun never made it through the clouds properly. The house was dim, the kids were bored and stuck indoors while a cool rain fell through thick fog outside. It stopped being fun. Tempers flared. The last hotdog was roasted in a hail of whining.
I kept writing. It seemed as though I wrote so much more with the power out, after all, there wasn’t much else to do besides read and after the sun set that was out (I wanted to conserve the flashlights for when the kids were up). A laptop, candlelight, and NaNoWriMo – is there a better date a writer could take themself on? I think not.
In the end, I didn’t actually end up writing any more than I did with power, probably because there wasn’t any way to distract the girls and focus on my work.
We bathed in pond water I heated on the woodstove. That’s going in a story someday. It gave me the best hair day I’ve had since becoming a mom, which makes no sense, because that pond feeds our well which feeds our… shower. *Shrugs.*
Tuesday night, last night, the power came back on. After so long without the internet I admit I’m feeling a little overwhelmed by all that social media out there, distracting me from my writing, but again, I didn’t write any more on days without power than I did with. If you’re looking for an anti-social media message, this isn’t it. I like the sense of community I get from my writer’s groups.
I didn’t, however, like missing Doctor Who. Best get back to writing so I can hit my word count and stream it guilt-free later.
I discovered a possible new species in the Enchanted Forest today: culvert goblins. At the end of NaNoWriMo no less. I should be focusing on my novel, not documenting a new species, but such is life as Keeper of Imaginary Beasts.
After some trial and error, I discovered the culvert goblins respond well to promises of hot cocoa and frozen blueberries. They may well have been starving in their respective culverts, or are possibly ruled by cravings of sweet things at both extremes of temperature.
Once inside the house, they huddled around the fireplace and its crackling fire, making me wonder if they have evolved from a medieval species of hobgoblin, bottlenecking to the culvert niche. I suppose the things are plentiful enough and tunnels have always had a mystical portal element that imaginary beasts are attracted to.
After consuming their promised treats, the sugar elicited an energetic response, causing them to grow too destructive for keeping indoors. The collection of dragon scales donated by the lunar dragons on their last visit was damaged, but I believe I can repair them with a bit of glue and time.
I was forced to turn them out-of-doors again when they refused to stop knocking at the fairy doors. Better cold than turned to toads or inside out by infuriated fairies. They returned to their respective culverts, muttering about the cold and offended by my refusal to let them hibernate in the kindling basket by the stove.
I’ll keep an eye on them throughout the winter, and am planning a trip to the local thrift shop for wool blankets to keep them cozy in their winter hibernation. I look forward to studying them more fully in the spring, but for now, its back to NaNoWriMo. The end is in sight!