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A little drafty

Something important happened last night.

I finished the first draft of my novel. Well, perhaps we shall say “finished” in that I got to the end and wrote the final scene, all as part of the NaNoWriMo push.

Long time readers may remember (and let’s face it, all this blog ever attracts are long time readers… hello! You are still very pretty) that I railed against NaNoWriMo in the past. I said that it was stupid to say “Go ahead and write something meaningless. We’ll call you a novelist!”  That it was akin to someone taking a three hour county extension class in anatomy and then calling themselves a brain surgeon. There was a high horse and I was steadfastly sitting upon it, holding a shield of self-righteousness and daring anyone to knock me off of it. And I even told actual NaNo staffers TO THEIR FACES that I thought the exercise was a ridiculous chase in vanity, as though the very act of writing was somehow a noble pursuit and that the important thing was that you tried. There may or may not have been a drunken crack about it being creative writing LARPing.

Oh yes, I went there.

The problem, dear long time reader (seriously, have you lost weight? Because baby, you’re looking fiiiiine) is that Esteban knows my weakness and is absolutely unafraid of calling me on my bullshit.

You see, last year HE decided that he was going to write a novel. During NaNoWriMo.

My husband. Who reads genre fiction for fun. FOR FUN. Like literature should be pleasurable or something. Gah.

“Go ahead! Enjoy that!” I scoffed, barely containing my derision. (Anyone who knows me knows that in fact, my derision is rarely contained. My derision was spilling out of cupboards and closets. My derision warehouse looks like an episode of Hoarders.)

“How’s it going to feel if your husband, who doesn’t even call himself a writer, has a 50,000 word novel draft and yours is sitting at…. what is it again?”

“Twenty-eight thousand.”

“Right, twenty-eight thousand words.”

“That’s a lot of words.”

“It IS! It is a lot of words.”

Then the fucker patted me on the head.

Oh, it was on. IT WAS SO ON. I started with a clean  document and continued the story from where I had left off, while Esteban started a new novel on an interesting idea he had. When November ended last year, we were both exhausted, somewhat resentful and each had fresh, unfiltered 50,000 word manuscripts that were only the tip of the iceberg for the plots we had laid out. I set forth with valiant ideas about how much editing and changing I would do, and then things happened, and I got distracted with short stories and writer’s conferences and a few fiction workshops and editing and real life too, and then viola, it was October. And it was time to talk about NaNoWriMo again.

I hoped he wouldn’t notice, quite honestly. But the man noticed. The man always notices.

“Are you going to do NaNo again?” he asked, like he wasn’t the master of my NaNo destiny.

“I don’t know. I’m thinking about it.” I said.

“‘K, think about it. Because I have to finish mine, so I’m doing it.”

“Maybe I’ll just do a bunch of short stories. 50,000 works of short stories is a LOT of short stories, yes?” I asked hopefully.

“You know that’s not the point.” He said with what might have very well been a tad bit of derision.

“Or blog entries? 50K of blog entries?”

“Weet.”

Grumble, grumble, grumble.

As it turned out, I wasn’t thinking about timing and Weetacon’s fall event was scheduled over the first four days of November. So I started out in an absolutely hole. I hate being behind. I hate graphs that show me how much behind I actually am. I’m very metrics driven (hello Six Sigma, please exit my brain so that I have more room for all this derision lying around) and those status bars are cruel mistresses. I spent all of November in the hole, sometimes as much as nine thousand words behind. I wanted to quit several times, even telling him that I didn’t even want to BE a writer and that I should just stick with editing and pretending to be fancy and that I actually hate writing, god! He propped me back up and told me he believed in me, which is basically the worst thing a person who wants to quit can hear. We pushed through it, me with my big writer brain and Esteban, who was flying more or less on the seat of his pants. And last night, both of us finished our last scene and each have first drafts equalling more than 100,000 words.

I am completely aware of how amazing my husband is, by the way. That he would pound out 100,000 words doing something just to keep my competitive streak from being eaten by my apathy is just amazing. Truly amazing. He really is my best friend and, as it turns out, a pretty fucking awesome fiction writer. I absolutely believe that his book will be attractive to agents and publishers in his genre. It turns out that his 10,000 hours as a voracious reader turned him into one hell of a story teller. I can’t wait to read the entire thing.

And here’s where I have to apologize to the NaNoWriMo enthusiasts out there. I’m sorry that I am an asshole. I’m sorry that I mocked the effort of writing for the sake of writing. I’m sorry that I am a creative writing snob. Also, I’m sorry that you’re branded by the stereotype of people writing Twilight fan fiction, because yes of COURSE there should be 50,000 words of additional backstory on Jasper’s travels. Whoops, there I go being an asshole again. But seriously, it’s kind of awful and I realize now that I had such a wall built up about my work that I lashed out at people who managed to be more productive than I was. And honestly, that’s just some fucking weak shit. I’m pretty ashamed that I joined the cool kid mentality and pretended like there was some kind of difference between casual writers and writers with fancy pedigrees. As I’ve said before, the best writers aren’t always getting published, and the writers getting published aren’t always the best, they’re just the ones who did the work. So thank you, NaNoWriMo crew, for being the people who got me to do the work. I mean it.

As penance, I’m doing Holidailies this month. It will be my 31 lashes of blog posts, perhaps amounting to 31,000 words (this one is past 1000 already) to put my money where my mouth is. Or, you know, my typing.

Like starting NaNoWriMo in the hole, I’m kind of being an idiot about Holidailies too. Like Wendy MC, I too have a bunch of travel this month. Tomorrow I start on my 10K miles/4 time zones trips, which means I’m going to have to awaken the old Weetabix who found time to update no matter the time or the place. Well, I will write updates in airports, like a damned boss.

* Want a peek at my novel? The fantastic lit journal Paper Darts has published a snippet of my novel as flash fiction. I’m pretty honored to be in such great company with that journal and if you love really cool fiction that makes your stomach feel flippy as well as amazing illustrations, consider buying an issue or three for an early Christmas present.

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7 Comments

  1. lisa-marie wrote:

    Congrats to you and Esteban for finishing NaNo! I got suck at somewhere around 10,000 words and just gave up. Looking forward to more Holidailies updates!

    Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  2. KarenD wrote:

    Holidailies as a penance? Interesting angle.

    Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 3:14 pm | Permalink
  3. I conveniently forgot about NaNo this year, until about Thanksgiving. Then I thought about diving in for about two seconds, then I pulled myself back from the ledge. Next year!

    Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
  4. Okay, maybe next year.

    Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
  5. mo pie wrote:

    I cannot wait to read both of your novels.

    Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink
  6. Kim wrote:

    Why yes I am a longtime reader and although I’ve actually gained weight it doesn’t matter because all of this made me so happy, I feel like I just received a gift.

    Sunday, December 2, 2012 at 9:42 am | Permalink
  7. Poppy wrote:

    How like an early Christmas present this is!

    Monday, December 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

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