Recovering My Author Determination to Face NaNo

NaNoWriMo nears with my participation this year not a certainty. If I do join in, this would be my seventh NaNo in a row. I always “win,” but more important is satisfaction with what I produce. That means being prepared. Despite hurdles, I’m close to prepared to draft Talma Loyal and the Case of the Deadly Stroll.

Cover: CA Hawthorne

Part of being prepared means having at least a loose framework. A novel in a month is no easy thing. Many begin with a beginning and ending in hand, but its filling in what’s between that kills most NaNo efforts.

My computer situation, though, remains in limbo. I’m in lockdown because of my lung condition and Covid-19 in Montana is the worst it’s been all year. Currently, I’m using my ancient laptop on my couch and reconstructing my typed notes while listening to smooth, noir jazz. The novel is 1920s-esque so I want the spirt of the era.

I lost my typed notes in the computer debacle, but the handwritten notes in my unique shorthand remain. They’re serving as triggers for typing on the old laptop, which I’m backing up on the cloud. Also on paper was a Duskspell map, diagram of Talma Loyal’s flat, and info on her car and camera.

At this point, almost a week later, I’ve rewritten over 80% of what Apple destroyed. I’ve also added more details. It’s gone faster than expected.

What remains is to interior decorate her amazing flat in the Melpomene FiveTower. I’ve been brushing up on Art Deco (the basis for Tyde Deco in Pannulus). This is following hours spent worldbuilding (Duskspell’s landmarks, tallest buildings, suburbs, economy, etc.).

Three weeks remain before NaNoWriMo. Soon I’ll begin work on a narrative outline. There are resources on the desktop I dearly need, but I’ll make do if I have to.

After all, the real magic happens in editing.

Still, I need that outline for navigating my way through the novel’s middle. Most who fail at NaNo crash during the second week after passing the novel’s 1st plot point (25%). The initial idea’s excitement gives way to wandering in the woods. They might have an idea of how to end the novel, but what about in-between? Thus is a saggy middle made.

I don’t wander. Nor do my middles sag. Built into my narrative outline is shaking up the story at the midpoint.

Like I’m shaking up this blog post around the midpoint.

In Trust in the Forgotten, the last place Riparia wants to go is to spend time “with a bunch of icy wizards in the frozen north.” The reality, when it must be faced, turns out to be far worse because it goes to the heart of her fears.

In Torment Surfacing, Kasaria, the girl who hadn’t lived, awakens to the impossible only to have her impossible dream shattered two weeks later.

In Protecting the Pneuma Key, Zephtasha’s reward for doing the right thing is to land in a chaotic courtroom where she’s faced with impossible choices.

Long, long ago, I’d have saved such moments for the novel’s ending. Instead, they’re the complications that drive the middle and enrich the climax. Such moments also deepen characters.

Courtesy: Pixabay
Courtesy: Pixabay

In Zephtasha’s case, the sensational courtroom hearing that changes everything sets the stage for the choices that must be made at the end. That ending is also what launches the novel I’m working on right now.

What will that middle moment be in Deadly Stoll? I don’t know, to be honest, though I have some candidates. The narrative outline will help to determine it. Even if I miss the mark I can always fix it when I edit. Knowing that takes off a lot of the pressure while drafting. It also erases the obsession with getting it right the first time. I’ll know that all I need to have is already there. It just needs adjusted.

Regardless of whether I have to tweak the middle later, what matters is that during NaNo I won’t be slowed down. There’ll be little of me sitting and staring at the screen. I won’t have to remove tens of thousands of words later that were inserted as filler. That’s the reason why I don’t write 50K in November. Rather, I typically average a novel of 120K. If your goal is a full novel during NaNo then you can’t afford to waste time.

So, that’s where I am.

In that moment when the realization of what’d happened to my computer struck me I knew that writing was more important to me than anything else. That inspired me to protect my mental health. It was ugly and messy and humiliating, but I made it out the other side. My author determination reemerged. I found a way to keep working.

This novel won’t be denied. I won’t be denied.

About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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2 Responses to Recovering My Author Determination to Face NaNo

  1. loved reading this 🙂

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