Well it appears it’s been over 3 weeks since I posted and the last thing I posted wasn’t a true “entry”, so I do owe updates. Where have I been in November? I actually have a legitimate excuse! One I’m proud of instead of grasping at straws. I wrote a book. No, really I did! Readers who have been around a few years know I have participated in a round or two of National Blog Posting Month NaBloPoMo and highly enjoyed it each time. Over the years I’ve also heard of the other version which is a National Novel Writing Month NaNoWriMo and always assumed it was a sister site to the first one. This year I learned it was the first and NaBloPoMo spawned from its success.
Late October I was talking with one of my new coworkers and the topic of book writing came up. He said how important it is to write as often as possible. I mentioned how I blogged, but was thinking about quitting. He has never read my blog and even after I briefly told him what it was and the direction I saw myself going he insisted I not give up. At the bloggers dinner about a week before the same theme came up with a few attendees. It didn’t matter how infrequently I wrote or how many things I didn’t DO outside of writing, if I still loved it (and I DO) then I shouldn’t quit. At work my friend mentioned how we should start a writer’s club and get together every so often to cut time out specifically for writing. In the back of my mind the old NaBloPoMo info popped up and I seemed to recall it being either October or November when the event happened. I mentioned this to him and checked over the weekend. Ta-Da! It was starting that Sunday!
He ended up not getting his computer fixed in time, but was a great motivator in the process. Dave was also a sweetheart letting me read him passages, bouncing story lines off him in the car, or not missing me too much when I stayed late to work on it or disappeared into my own world when at home. As each new collection of 1,000 words settled into the saved document my feelings grew and grew.
It started off as an easy exercise in getting my feeling out about a lot of changes and stressors in my life lately. The book was aimed to be first person with one main character. As I wrote I started to create other people and their back stories. I decided if I were to ever go all the way with it, people would prefer a fun “chick lit” book, and I didn’t take myself seriously enough as a writer to aim for any other genre. When I had about half the book finished I couldn’t imagine going any further with the story lines. Oh and when I say “half the book” I mean about 20,000 words. For the monthly challenge you try to write at least 50,000 words. You upload to a reader on the page any time after the 20th and if it’s all there you “win”. Winning means you get to claim fame to writing 50K words and can buy some fun merchandise. The main site is a non-profit trying to help with reading and writing all over the country.
National Novel Writing Month is also a 501(c)(3) nonprofit (formerly known as the Office of Letters and Light) that believes your story matters.
Through all our programs, we work to empower and encourage writing and vibrant creativity around the world:
- The Young Writers Program promotes writing fluency, creative education, and the sheer joy of novel-writing in K-12 classrooms. We provide free classroom kits, writing workbooks, Common Core-aligned curricula, and virtual class management tools to more than 2,000 educators from Dubai to Boston.
- The Come Write In program provides free resources to libraries, community centers, and local bookstores to build writing havens in your neighborhood.
Camp NaNoWriMo is a virtual writing retreat, designed to provide the community, resources, and tools needed to complete any writing project, novel or not.
Side bar. The site also has message boards and local message sites to reach out to others doing the challenge. I made it to one write in (local coffee shop gathering) and it was a completely surreal experience. I’ve never sat in a coffee shop before with a laptop and sipped coffee while writing with others around me doing the same thing. I felt so official, but I was always afraid I’d also feel too old. Although I did see a little older than some of the crowd, this particular gathering happened at a coffee shop near my job so I was comfortable being there already.
OK back to the book story. At this point in my writing I was starting to feel a little more confident and one again made a switch in tone. I re-wrote some sections and turned it into a 3rd person book with three main characters. Here is the summary I put on the main site:
With this Ring follows three women and their year of self discovery through chance and choice.
Laura is a woman with an opinion and she’s never too shy to share. On the same night she takes her new boyfriend Shane to a friend’s New Year’s Eve party, that same friend announces her engagement and asks Laura to be in the wedding. Will all the exposure to “Happily Ever After” help or harm the new relationship?
Grace is Laura’s best friend. The youngest of four girls, instead of following tradition and marring young, Grace followed Laura to college and a career. Happy as a follower her whole life, it comes as a shock when Grace embarks on a new journey. Will she find herself far away from her comfort zone, or finally inside it?
Courtney decided early in life happiness is a choice. She chooses every day to be happy with warm colors, kind words and a constant smile. Of course nothing makes that easier than being engaged to her best friend. When the big day arrives will Courtney get everything she’s dreamed of, or will life hand her another choice?
When MY happy day came of hitting over 50K I felt an enormous sense of relief. I knew the book was a complete rough draft, but I have never accomplished anything like it in my life. I’ve always wanted to write a book and have had so many idea, the weird thing is this book was none of those previous ideas. Somehow starting something new was safer. If I failed with something new I could always recall it as a valiant first effort. If I failed with one of my previous novel ideas, it might have devastated me to the point of never trying again. Hey I never claimed to NOT being dramatic.
I started to read up on how to shop for an editor if there was agents who would accept proposals from the author directly instead of an editor or whatever. If self-publishing would be better than all the hoops of traditional press. The most important thing I learned so far is this….I have a lot more writing to do. For women’s literature I should have a book around 80-90K words. Yikes. One complaint I have about some of my women’s literature books (Love you Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty) is the size of the novels. I’m a total “get the point” reader and hate anything that feels like filler. When I wrote my book I took out the filler. Now if I self-publish I know I have an audience for that style of writing. However, what I learned looking back on all the book clubs I’ve attended this year is that audience isn’t as large as the one who wants the filler. If I desire traditional publishing I need to play by popularity rules.
My next step is to figure out how to expand. I’m leaning toward making one of the characters the “main” character and adding more scenes with her, maybe changing her to the first person and leaving the other two as third person and ways to show subplots. The story takes place over a year, but I touch on maybe six months of that for all three ladies. I could expand the main character for the other six months. Plus each chapter could be expanded as well. I’d rather have extra material to send an editor and have room for cutting than to send bare minimum and have to scramble for more words a third or fourth time. Although I am prepared to do that if needed. My greatest fear is the book will be edited to the point it’s no longer my original story, but some pass produced shell of a dream. If that happens I more than likely will back out and do self publish.
Oh and yes I understand I have BIG dreams here of even catching the attention of anything official to begin with and need to calm down, but hey I’m excited and proud at the moment.
At any rate. That’s where I have been the last month. Writing a book and figuring out what to do next. Dave and I have a fitness game plan and I will share it soon. Yes, sooner than the end of next month.
Happy November all. Happy Thanksgiving if you celebrate. I’m thankful for everything I have and everything I want. Friends, family, health, a great job, a beautiful home, love, and all of you. Have a safe weekend.