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Monday, December 7, 2009

Cleaning Up After the Party's Over

          Thanksgiving has always been at our house in the past twelve years.  We've got a reasonable amount of space and I guess I whip up a pretty fair feast.  Everybody keeps coming back at least.  There's always a big build-up as my wife, her sister, and I clean, buy the food, and bring in the extra tables and chairs from the garage.  Then the day comes and my wife and I are busy in the morning peeling, chopping, and cooking until the guests arrive.  With a flurry of platters and casseroles set out, everyone fills their plates and before I know it, everybody's done, sated, and happy.  My sister-in-law, Maria, cleans the kitchen afterwards to my great delight and the next day I put away the extra tables and chairs.  Everything goes smooth as clockwork.

       Not so NaNo.  During the month of November it was like fixing dinner on the fly. This is what would be like if someone had to keep running to the store for ingredients as I cooked and everybody was moving furniture and bustling about the kitchen and house. It was near chaos.  I was improvising as I went along and now I have this 50,000 word plus novel, except it's still not a complete novel.  I forgot to put one of the casseroles in the oven and I still have all of the ingredients for the pie I never fixed.

        What I'm saying is I finished the 50,000 but I have not finished my novel.  There's a lot I need to clean up still and a lot that I left out that still needs to be added.  In the rush to cross the finishline I forgot some important plot points that now I will have to go back and add in.  I haven't looked at my "novel", A DESERT PLACE, since I wrapped things up last Sunday.  I doubt whether I will tackle it again until after the holidays.

        So I am designating my January to be NaNoFixMo--National Novel Fixing Month. I know I'm not alone in this from what I've been reading from others.   I need to go back and read what I did.  I'm sure I've forgotten much of it already, although the gist of the story is firm in my head.  Then I need to diagram and map out some points that are still problematic.  I'd say by the time I am finished I will end up with no less than 80,000 words and whether I finish in January may be wishful thinking.

          Many of you are probably much more experienced than I in this novel game so I am wondering how long do you think it will take you to have a finished product from what you started in NaNo?  Those of you who just started and didn't reach the 50,000 are you still working on your project or do you plan to later?  How many are just going to trash it or shelve it for some future time.

          How about non-NaNo'ers?  Do you have any projects that you were gung ho about then just stopped working on?  I've seen some houses like that around where I live.  I suppose they probably met a financial roadblock that has put their project on hold, but I've known people who undertake a big project and then quit not because of lack of money, but because of something else.  What causes you to stop a project?  Loss of interest?  Realization that it was too much for you?  Frustration?   Anger?

           Often we enter into a project with just a dream and no plan to achieve it.  Entering NaNo I had a vague plan, but that was my intent.  Now I see the importance of plotting out the story, developing the characters, and having a clear sense of time and place.  It was fun jumping into it blindly and I think in the end it will be rewarding for me.  Do I think that's the best way to write a novel?  I don't know yet.  I'll have to keep going and see where I end up.  What about you--what do you think is the best approach?

         And while I'm on the topic of novels and outstanding novelists, make sure you're with me for the next two days.  Tomorrow (Tuesday 12/8) I will be reviewing LOST MISSION, the recent novel by award-winning novelist Athol Dickson.  This will be followed by an interview with Athol Dickson on Wednesday (12/9).   Mr. Dickson had some very interesting things to say about writing novels and about his book LOST MISSION.  I hope you will come back for both of these.


  1. I love the analogy to dinner. It sounds like you need your sister-in-law to come in and clean up your post-NaNo kitchen!! I'm in exactly the same position. My novel is far from finished, but it's on the way. Last year's NaNo novel didn't get finished until August this year due to, well, life, I suppose. I'm hoping to beat that this time around if I can. Good luck! January does sound like a great month for fixing a novel... I might just join you!

  2. I'm looking forward to the interview with the novelist on Wednesday. How did you pull that off?

  3. I read the book-- it's real good. I'll bring it to you if you like.

    Then I asked him if he'd do the interview. After all, I guess he wants to promote his book.

  4. Yes, I have a book that I gathered everything... characters, settings, plot etc and put it all in a notebook. Then I set it aside-was only going to be for a week. I picked it up again the other day after two months. I don't know why it took me so long, but I needed the space. But now it's like seeing an old friend again. I am excited.

  5. I like the idea of NaNoFixMo :) I may be joining you.

    I've done a bit more on my nano novel, but I still need to write the ending. I think I may go back and outline first, but I need time for that. It may have to wait for the holidays or even later.

  6. Jemi,
    Well let's spread the word about NaNoFixMo!

    I wrote the ending of my novel so I could focus better as I wrote. I have a few big unresolved chunks in the middle that I need to figure out.

  7. I keep thinking to make bead "special" projects to submit as a book proposal...but I always seem to get swamped with other "Stuff". While not a novel, it does take a lot of prep to create the projects and write the how-to, and then there are the illustrations. I keep hoping I will get to it!

    Darn day job!! No wonder I am behind!


  8. Sig, I say go for it, I'll root you on. Get them on the shelves at all of the Michael's and other craft stores. And you could sell them in your booth at the shows you go to. Might be worth a shot.

    I got a kick out of one of the links I followed to one of your awarded beaders who was talking about novels that had something to do with beading -- who would have thunk!

  9. Hello! I enjoyed reading your post. I'm a realist (most of the time) I'm giving myself a year to finnish off my nano novel. between homeschooling and studying myself... It was my first nano so I'm a newy but so excited to have done it.

  10. I think that *some* direction can be good. I do frequently make it up as I go along, but I make little mini outlines...for just a chapter, or even just a scene or a bit of dialogue. The big picture is in my head, but I don't outline it...seems too limiting.

    Mystery Writing is Murder


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