Saturday, November 21, 2015

NaNoWriMo: The Home Stretch

We all know that Pumpkin has a lot of feelings. She's never been shy about "telling" me exactly what she thinks of my life choices (the eyes really tell the story) or the food choices I make for her (we went through a spitting food phase a few years back - not pleasant). On the plus side, she's fairly low maintenance; she doesn't need me to pay attention to her all the time. I appreciate that about having a cat; she's the right mix of aloof and needs attention. It's why we've gotten along so famously for the last thirteen years.

Pumpkin hates my computer. She doesn't even like laying on it like all those cats on the Internet; she prefers the cable box and the heater for her napping needs. You can imagine then how much Pumpkin actually loves National Novel Writing Month. I can see the dislike in her little cat face every time I sit down to write in the evenings. I imagine what's going on in her head, "Oh no, that stupid clicky-tappy thing is back again. She's not going to pet me or give me treats for hours. And when will she go to sleep? I have cat things to do and I can only do them when she sleeps. Look, shiny thing! Hey is that a bug? Oops, nap time."

Or something. Maybe it's just all "food, nap, sun patch, litter box, pet me, food, water, treat, nap, nap, nap, knock something over, nap." I don't really know but I do know that Pumpkin gets cranky when I spend too much time on the clicky-tappy thing. She's shared this opinion multiple times with me this month as I work on completing my third NaNoWriMo novel. Her two favorite activities: guarding my notebook and being in the way (usually by standing over my keyboard). I could pretend like she's helping ("This book needs more cats!") or concerned for my well being ("You need breaks.") but that's really just me projecting. The fact is that this year's novel is much harder to write than the last two. There are ten days left and I want it to be over now.

November has been a surprisingly busy month. I was in Indianapolis for four days for a work event, I got sick immediately upon returning from that work event, launched a brand new week-long onboarding program for new hires (that's my job job) while sick, went to the winery with my family, and watched the Saints get trounced by the Redskins (this last one hurts the most). During the previous two years, I did virtually nothing during November but write and go to work. I like the discipline of coming home from work and spending four or five hours immersed in a world that doesn't involve people complaining to me about training, sitting in traffic, or creating yet another spreadsheet to track information no one really cares about. I like these evenings of creating and having fun and being annoyed by characters who seem to be taking over even if that was never the intention. It just seems like this is year is kicking my ass.

And it's not because I don't love this idea as much as the past two years although I will admit that last year's novel is my favorite. I like the idea of Land of Legends and enjoy the characters. I even found a way to weave in the children's book I've always wanted to write but haven't. I created a map of the park and a timeline so I could keep dates straight in my head. I did my character sketches as in year's past (although a lot of what I sketched is very different from how some of these characters ended up in the novel). I struggled with the first part of the novel set in 1997 (the year I graduated from high school). It went on for too long and I think this is where the novel took over and I lost control. I finally had to end 1997 and now I feel like I'm back on track and can get to the end.

I have 17,249 words left to hit the 50K mark. I think I have about 19K left to actually finish (it's hard to say since I have two ideas for the ending). I have nothing to do this weekend except write. In theory, I could finish tomorrow. That would mean writing around 8600 words each (to 50K) or 9500 words to really finish. The most I've written in a single day this year is 5767; the most I wrote in a single day last year was 6202. There's no need to rush but I've finished early every year and it would be cool to do that again. However, 9500 words in one day is a lot. I do enjoy ambitious goals so I'm probably going to go for it. That's the spirit of this month anyway - the world needs my novel.

What's happened since the last time I shared a chapter? Iris is all grown up now, living in DC and working as the education director for a museum that only exists in the world of the novel. She's writing a children's book in her spare time about a dinosaur toy named Walter who goes on adventures with his owner, Sam. Iris has been called back home to Land of Legends; her grandfather is dying (yes, I'm killing a character this year) and someone wants to buy the land from the family. The don't want the park; just the land. Iris's family has kept her in the dark on both of these items and she's feeling a little left out of the family. We've also met Ethel, the Mason family cat (so Pumpkin gets her wish of more cats in the novel since there were zero at the beginning). That's where we are today. I have to decide which of the endings I want to use, bring back Charlie Briggs (sorry Julie, he's not an actual unicorn), and decide the fate of Land of Legends. Sounds like a good weekend to me.

I will win this thing. November doesn't get to kick my ass.

Coming soon to the Island: the conclusion of NaNoWriMo, The Eye Shadow Experiment (no, I did not join a band but it is an excellent band name), a check in on how online dating is going, and my guide to not hating the holidays.

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