Monday, November 30, 2015

The Great Nano Hangover

On Saturday, I had a strange, out of body experience as I watched myself weep into my husband's chest, wailing, "It's no use! If I don't want to f*ck him, why should she?!"

And I thought, WTF??

The "he" in question is the hero of my current mess-in-progress, the "she" is my heroine, and my very unsexy meltdown came on the heels of my having "won" Nano for the first time, then looking back on my nearly completed first draft, and going, "Oh, shit." 

Because all those notes I plugged in so I could keep writing the stuff I could see, the ones that said "insert tab A into slot B here" to mark where a sex scene should go, or "deepen conflict here, once you figure out what the hell it really is" … Yeah. Now I have to deal with them.

Arizona, to his credit, held me, made "there-there" noises, reminded me that I at some point hate every manuscript, and assured me that I would find lots of reasons to want to f*ck my hero during revisions. 

That, ladies, is the mark of a truly great WriterHusband.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), each November a sort of collective hysteria grips a large subset of the writing community, and a ridiculous number of authors, both published and aspiring, log into the relevant website and pledge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That's 1667 words a day, which doesn't seem like all that much.

Until, of course, life intervenes. Which it always does.

You see, I usually start off the month all swaggering and like "I totally got this" and I launch in and put up some huge numbers in the first week or so, writing like a crazy woman regardless of what else is going on in my universe. Then I make the mistake of looking back on what I've written, and think "Oh, hell, no" and I start revising what I've written, because, damn. Or I get sick. Or someone else gets sick. Or I get a big editing job. Or, or ...

So I've never before made the 50k mark. Until this year.

This year, I was in the perfect place of Nano--I had already written and thrown out two openings for the current story, and finally knew who, what, where and when. I had a detailed outline that I actually had faith I could stick to. I was excited to write each and every scene. And I was going to write and not look back. Cross my heart and hope to … well, you know.

And I did. The first week, I got up at 6 each morning and wrote until 8, when Arizona gets to work and we do the Baby Handoff. I wrote during nap times. I wrote in the evening after Wallaby corked off for the night (he doesn't stay asleep, but darn, he's good about bedtime). 

The second week, my mom came and stayed so I could get in some solid hours of work. The story flowed. My brain churned. I found myself waking up at 5:30 instead of 6, so why not get up and write? Because did I mention I was also keeping up with my usual freelancing gig (science editing), too? And of course trying to Mom and Wife. Let's go to the playground! Let's make oatmeal cookies! If there aren't enough hours in the day, sleep can take a hit. 

The third week, on pace to not just hit 50k, but stretch it to 60k or even 70k for the month, I backed up my morning to 4 or 4:30 and started early on my strictly rationed Diet Coke. Plot twists! New scenes! I gobbled the story and spewed words. 

Week four was more of the same. I passed 50k and won Nano, then kept going! With four days left to write, I was closing in on 60k for the month, and more than 80k in the manuscript … And I realized it was time to start wrapping things up. Yay! Awesome! Party time! 

Except that then I looked back over all those frantic words. And I thought about how how many holes I left in there, and how much work it's going to be to make them as good as I know they can be. And, because I was running on zero sleep, raw emotions and ten months of "hey, let's nurse every two hours" ….

I. Cracked.

Scratch that. I freaking broke.

It started with a sticky nut on my treadmill (long story, maybe I'll tell it next week), escalated to my hero's unf*ckability, and took a detour to "I'm soooo tired and I can't keep doing this." Which wasn't really a detour at all, but the core issue. 

Too much pressure. Not enough sleep. 

But that, folks, is what Nano is about. It's also only one month out of the year, and it's over. In fact, this year I called it a couple of days early.

Yesterday, Arizona got up with Wallaby like he usually does, except instead of writing, I rolled over and slept for three more glorious hours. And the only time I opened my computer was to troll Facebook and order a second Shark dust buster (another long story, tangentially related to the treadmill thing).

And today, 6 a.m. saw me back at the computer, working on revision notes. The goal for next month: Make my hero absolutely irresistible. 

To those of you out there who participated in Nano this year, you're all winners in my book. And you're all (we're all) f*cking nuts. And, as of midnight tonight, officially done and probably very hung over. So be good to yourselves. Cut yourselves some slack. Maybe even take a week before you look back over the crap you spewed over the course of the month. 

I'll try to do the same.


  1. I've won Nano a couple of times. It's insane. I passed on it this year. Congrats for winning and good luck with the rewrite!

    1. Thanks for the congrats and the good luck! I don't know if I'll pass next year or look forward to it. The jury is evenly divided ...

  2. I don't do NaNo cuz I'm crazy enough as it is.

    1. Ha! That perhaps should have factored into my decision-making process, as well.

  3. I laughed at the problematic sex scene. I had a book with this problem. I think I rewrote the sex scene about 25 times, and then finally I smacked myself on the head and said "D'UH! They're not ready to have sex yet. That's why this isn't working." I'm a firm believer in 50% PERCOLATION 50% WRITING. You can't just spew out a ton of words. You need to think about the story and characters, and let everything percolate in your brain. A lot of working on a novel happens when you aren't actually typing the words. If you don't take a breather to do that, you can write yourself into a corner. :^)

  4. Great job on winning. I didn't. With the release and the holiday, I said "screw it" and scaled back to keep my sanity. After all, one melt down in a month is enough to ask of my family to deal with (and it had nothing to do with NaNo). You're right though, we're all Nucking Futs for doing this, in a good sort of way. :-) Hugs and congrats and I know when you get done with revisions we'll all want that guy with a passion even if his name stays the same.