I made quite a strong statement a while ago saying that participating in NaNoWriMo was my worst writing decision.
It was four or five years ago. At the end of that agonizing November, I had the required number of words. It was a Pyrrhic victory, though: the story was useless, and I felt so drained with producing a certain amount of words every day, day after day, and so frustrated with my inability to do anything with that material that I stopped writing altogether. From the start, the NaNo concept was on a collision course with my writing self: I don’t structure my stories, I have no firm plans, only the simplest (mental) outline, my ideas develop and change as I write. I finish a story and then I apply the structure to it. I couldn’t go back and change things nor had I time to read what I had written the previous day. Add to the mix my full-time job and regular, several-times-per-month migraine attacks, and you’ll get the picture. Moreover, schedules, routine, habits — these are not categories I’m comfortable with when I write or paint. They’re useful in many other aspects of my life, like my very structured job, but not for the right-side brain activities.
It is said that every cloud has a silver lining, but it seemed to me that nothing positive came out of my NaNo nightmare. I was cringing every time I heard that clumsy abbreviation.
Until a few days ago, when I got an idea of how to forgive NaNoWriMo for the torture I endured and myself for trying to be something I was not.
I got inspired while reading a post by my fellow blogger and author, Priscilla Bettis: I’ll try to do NaNoWriMo on a small, Ninnywrimo scale (love the word!), to challenge myself with something manageable, and with visible and positive outcomes.
My backward-written novella, I’ll be Waiting for You at the End of the Story, is done. It’s the first draft, so my NinnyWriMo dare will be to go through it and make it ready for my editor. It has about 22K, so I should be able to do it, even though one-third of the month is gone.
Meanwhile, I finished Naomi Novik’s first standalone novel, Uprooted, written and published after her Temeraire books. Similar to Spinning Silver, this story is also deeply embedded in Slavic folklore, legends and mythology. Uprooted won the 2015 Nebula Award for Best Novel, the 2016 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, and the 2016 Mythopoeic Award in the category Adult Literature. It was also nominated for the 2016 Hugo Award for Best Novel. It’s an impressive and well-deserved list of trophies.
Interestingly, her capital work, the unforgettable Temeraire series, didn’t collect many rewards. I liked both her standalones, but I don’t think I will read them again. (I did read the first two Temeraire books for the second time, right after I finished book 9, and ordered the entire set from Amazon today.) Nothing compares to the magic of her famous series, not even her own work. Some authors become better writers with more experience, but apparently this is not always the case. To be fair, to come up for the second time with something so original and captivating would be next to impossible.