Saturday, November 19, 2011

Never give up. Or, how Nanowrimo is maybe a little bit like a relationship.

tiny note. If you came to this blog post for the pumpkin spice latte recipe, then scroll all the way down to skip the crazed ramblings of a lunatic trying to compare writing a novel in a month to being married.

She stopped her frantic typing  and dragged her hand down her face laughing dejectedly. " I have no idea what I'm doing right now...oh my gosh, this story is so lame...."

...And welcome to what is commonly called the 12 days remaining blues. Or more likely, I just made that up.

But apparently it's normal to go from thinking "I'm doing great, my story is really coming along, I'm ahead and this is going to be AWESOME!!!" to "this is crap, I can't even believe I'm still bothering to write in this loser of a novel." And yet, I keep writing. Our week three Nanowrimo pep talk came from Chris Cleave, a writer I've never heard of before. He wrote (among other things,) this, to encourage us:
The more I learn about the writing process, the more I suspect that there is no such thing as a bad day at the keyboard. Sometimes you need slow days where you work through a dozen ideas that aren’t destined to fly.
And he went on to say:

The good days are when you perform; the slow days are when you learn to perform better. The only bad days as a writer are the ones when you are too cowardly or too lazy to sit down at the keyboard and give it everything you have. 
This is why I won't give up this hacked up piece of work. I won't stop to try starting a new more miraculous story. I won't allow myself to continue on the line of thought that this story simply wasn't ready to be written and I really ought to simply delve into another work of fiction that's been stewing in my mind lately. No, no no! I will reach 50,000 words before the end of this month, I will I will I will!!!!!

Even if the only thing that this novel writing month activity produces is a better writer (as opposed to an awesome publish worthy novel) then it will have not been for naught.

I'm kind of seeing writing a novel for Nanowrimo like falling in love and getting married. You start the whole process and it's electric and exciting. It pervades your thoughts at all times. You can't wait to get back to writing. Words are flying and things are wonderful. You and your novel are soul mates!

But then you get to know it. You see it's faults and the whole not-so-great-shebang that it is. The more time you spend with your novel, the more you see that it's really just regular, no more special than any other novel you've written or read. In fact, it's probably worse. A lot worse. The characters are all flawed and some of them are doing really, really dumb things. They've taken on problems bigger than they can fix and they're kind of getting under your skin. But you can't go back, because now you're committed. It's half way through the month and to try and find a new more exciting story to write would be very foolish, and very unfair to this novel, as well. Even though that story about alternative early America does sound super awesome and success-worthy, you can't go and try it out while you're committed to this story for November. Now it's not exciting or easy or even going very well, but you can't stop, because you've made this choice. You have to stick to it. You've promised this novel and your love is no longer an option, it's a necessity. You've got to write in it every day if you want this Nanowrimo thing to work! Nanowrimo is hard work, but it's very worth it.
 (Right, isn't that what people always say about marriage?)

Okay, my illustration may be stretching it a little. Because this is really nothing like how my experience of love and marriage as been. It's quite possible that lots of people do have marriages like that - no longer a breeze,  or exciting or heart-pounding and passionate and they actually have to remind themselves of their vows because they think their spouse is so lame and not worth their time that they wonder why they haven't hit the road yet to find someone new and exicitng.... I'm sorry for them, but if they keep sticking to it even after all that, props to them, they're probably better people than I'll ever be.

Because mine is nothing like this. I don't think I could ever possibly find a guy as amazing, wonderful, and awesome as John. We no longer spend whole days making out any more (well, not usually, anyway) and yeah, maybe I'd prefer if John played less video games sometimes. But I know that if I looked for someone else, they'd have some annoying habit too. Everyone's got something wrong with them. (Because we're all sinners and no one except Jesus is perfect.) You pick the bad habits you're willing to put up with...Or rather, you pick the person whose bad habits you're willing to put up with. Like Bob Marley said "Truth is, everyone's gonna hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for." Really, video games are a whole lot more preferable to me than some people's flaws. And I actually did know before I said my vows, that John was super duper into video games and I'm (mostly) okay with it. Even with John's video game habit, I still find him the most wonderful guy I've ever met. He's hot and super sweet and forgives a multitude of my own sins and annoying habits. (like asking him to do something he's about to do, which I HONESTLY did not realize he was about to do, but he doesn't believe me. And if he did that to me, I'd probably kill him, because that is seriously annoying.) Soooo....

Somehow this update on my Nanowrimo progress turned into a dissertation on marriage and how it really is nothing like writing a novel during National Novel Writing month....At least from my own perspective of falling in love and getting married. In fact, I wish my experience with this current novel were more like my own marriage, because then I'd be only slightly annoyed or less than satisfied with it some of the time rather than wanting to punch it in the metaphorical face!
Current word count: 35,010
We'll see if I can keep this average up for the next 12 days. pffftttt.

One good thing about today, at least is that I made a Pumpkin Spice latte. And it was awesome. Here are some pictures to prove it.
I kind of did my own thing to make a Pumpkin syrup and then added it to Jim's Organic Coffee Holiday blend flavour along with some heated milk and some freshly made whipped cream. It was delicious. So good in fact, that John claimed it "barely even tastes like coffee!" it was that good. I used these two recipes as guides and inspiration. (there were others, but I can no longer find them.)
Pumpkin Syrup by SaavyEat
Pumpkin Spice Latte by A Full Measure of Happiness (whose blog I totally love)

I put a lot of cardamom in mine and it made it taste very chai-ish. Which I loved. It made my crappy writing day a little better. Hope it makes yours a little better too. Cheers.


  1. asldkjfa;oriu' a!!! (exclamation of kindredness)
    I put that same quote of Cleave's in my Facebook status immediately upon reading it. The second one you posted, about good days. Never heard of him either, don't know if he's a good writer, but he's a good pep talk writer and that's what I need now. I want to have all his children. But in December, can't fit it in during Nano.
    Week three in my experience is when I start to hallucinate. Over-caffeinated, I have evolved into the phase of writing late, then getting up early to write. And it's all disconnected vomit on the paper so I can edit it later. When people ask me how I am, I jabber about my book. Ok with other Wrimos, not so okay with bank tellers. (unless of course they return with Wrimo blather, like my new best friend at the Portsmouth Public Library! But I knew her sorta through organizing the NaNoWriMo PPL events...)
    Problem is, I had already hit my week three back in October, just doing ML prep. So this is now week 6 for me, an impossible, imaginary week that doesn't even exist. Though that's probably good, since my story deals with time travel, parallel universes, quantum physics (a timely PBS series that is fueling my gab). My character has amped into hearing other character's thoughts, seeing their feelings and memories, and having the ability to reach down and retrieve buried memories.... She's also being stalked by a killer who appeared when Jon suggested it in response to my whining about being stuck. Well, there's a good way to work in the infamous Traveling Shovel of Death!
    Yep. this post proves it. delirious.

  2. I will have been married for 17 years this my favorite person on good days; on bad days I have many creative ways to inflict torture and exact revenge. Yep. Sounds exactly like week 3/week 6!!

  3. You speak to my heart, Yvette. I've convinced two of my sisters to do it this year, but I've barely heard from them about their progress, or even simply how they're holding up. It's so good to have someone tangible in my nanowrimo life. My brain has been mush lately, but your story sounds really interesting.


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