I think this NaNoWriMo event was the nail in my coffin… for NaNoWriMo.
This post requires a little background about the monster that’s been living in my head. I’m not happy with Missing Auggie. This book has been a bit of a beast for me. It’s not an Austen modernization. It’s my own idea, and it needs a lot of work. So much so that it feels like its sitting on my chest and becoming a burden. I’m looking at the clock tick and the months pass with dread about it. This isn’t helped by a small bruising on my ego. The editor agreed with what I already knew and gave me specific points that she could identify as needing work. I’m just not ready to go through the book and fix it. It was contributing to a burn out that I needed to deal with.
I put it all aside for July. I refused to look at the editor’s notes. Instead, I wanted to write something else, my Emma modernization. In June the idea and characters came quickly, and I felt confident I could write it in the month. I got started and then stalled. I wrote Kraulaak stories, but even those felt wrong. Then, the week before the Phi Alpha Pi launch party, I decided to talk about this and brainstorm about what was going on. Never underestimate the power of saying something out loud. It sounds different when it’s not in your head. It’s also a cathartic release of the energy. I happened to say it all to my writer friends, and they helped me work through it. They all agreed I needed to put aside my plans and schedules (which I easily over commit to). They all agreed I just needed to do what I wanted to do, write what I wanted to write, and take some time for me. This was followed by the most selfish ten days of my year. I didn’t go anywhere (other than work and the gym), I didn’t hang out with friends, I skipped most meetings, I did restorative yoga, I walked the dog, and I wrote Phi Alpha Pi short stories.
This was about halfway through the month, and I learned that when I’m promoting a book, I should probably just write short stories for it. It happened with both books so far. By the end of the ten days I had six stories finished and character profile details I wanted to add. It was pretty clear to me that this is what I should release in December. I can still work on Kraulaak and publish it during the next year. I can still tinker with Missing Auggie when I’m ready. I can focus on the Austen modernization when I want. I don’t have to stick plans made nearly a year and a half ago when I had no idea how much work goes into publishing a book.
Two years ago, when I first signed with Royal James (who closed before publishing Modern Persuasion), I had this plan that I could have a book once a year, every year. I had a backlog of drafts and could just edit them while writing new books. It would have been so simple. Except one by one these drafts have fallen away for various reasons. I don’t have the backlog, and my plans need to be abandoned, so the books come out when they’re ready.
I stopped paying attention to the rules I had set up for myself and just wrote what I wanted for the last week of the month. That was primarily the B-plot in the Woodhouse Hall story, specifically, the fight about tearing down the dorm. I can write this part of the story easily right now, and it’s informing plot points and development in the A-plot (the romance/Emma story). I figured out a fun frame for the A-plot and wrote those elements, but I never finished the book. I’m still writing draft one, and I’m okay with it. I’ll keep writing in August and September. I have some more research to do at the same time. I keep coming up with questions as I go. This book might not be ready for publication until next Fall (which might be more fitting).
What will happen come November for the main program? I don’t think anything will happen. I’m not running the local events anymore. I’ll probably go to support the writers I’m friends with, but I’m just going to work on whatever I have to work on, no matter what phase it’s in. I’m not worrying about word count or daily goals. I’m just going to write what I want when I want to write about it.
I feel good letting go of NaNoWriMo finally, but it’s not what I need anymore.