Success: a goal achieved

I did it!
I met my goal for National Novel Writing Month mom-style and I exceeded it by 2,319 words.
My total for the month: 27,319 words.
I even got a little Christmas shopping done on the side.
And thanks to my awesome husband, the house has not fallen completely to pieces. (He cleans. I am fortunate in that.) It’s garbage day again tomorrow and I’ve already remembered to put it out. I’ve gotten the kids to school on time every day and they even still know who I am.
That’s all far more than I anticipated.
Now for the next step.
I hope to finish the first draft of this novel by the end of January, but I want a better balance.
I want to exercise at least three days a week. I want to keep the house in a relatively orderly state. I want to spend some time playing games with my kids, giving the puppy the attention she deserves (So she won’t destroy any more leather furniture) and just hanging out with my husband.
So here we go.
On to December.
About 27,000 more words and a life.
That’s all I ask.

Focused and flying

That’s how many words I have written since I vowed to write 834 words a day through the month of November in celebration of National Novel Writing Month mom-style. I am 5,866 words ahead of schedule so far.
It’s been exhilarating.
But it’s also been draining.
I’ve barely slept, the house is a mess and I have failed in my exercise goals.
I don’t care.
It can all wait.
The deadline pressure helped me realize that I wrote the first two acts of my work-in-progress (mystery/suspense) the same way I read any novel of suspense. I wrote it in a huge rush to find out what happens.
I hurried to get to the end, or rather to the climax of the action.
As part of this project, I have refused to go beyond the climax. All additional writing must come in the chapters before. And as I wrote, the villains changed. The literary part of the plot grew, but not too much. The novel became slightly more complex in, I hope, a good way.
I am still struggling to incorporate another 15,000 words into the novel before the climax and I think I can do that. I think I can do that well. I believe that I can because ever since I made this vow, the novel is on my mind night and day.
My poor kids have heard enough of it.
The two oldest simply rolled their eyes the other day when I asked what Dorothy should do with her gun.
My husband has been traveling a lot this month and that’s probably a good thing. I’ve interrupted enough conversations with questions for him about plot and character. I need him as a beta reader and if we spent too much time together this month, I would most certainly turn him off.
I probably should empty the garbage though.
And get some groceries.
And feed the kids.
In a minute.
When I’m done.

NaNoWriMo mom-style

November 1 marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo, an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is simple: start with a blank screen or a fresh sheet of paper and write 50,000 words by the end of the month. The effort has its own website with forums and everything. It doesn’t matter whether the words are coherent; Everyone who reaches 50,000 words wins.
I can’t do that.
There’s no way, not with four young kids, a freelance article due in early December, Christmas shopping, a century-old house that needs lots of TLC and–oh, yeah–not without further neglecting my own physical health.
But something happened today that got me thinking.
I was talking with my agent about the progress of my next novel. When I got off the phone, I felt a rush of creative adrenaline. In less than 45 minutes, I wrote another 1,000 words–solid, strong, plot-moving words. It was the thrill of deadline pressure that had motivated me, even though it wasn’t real.
My agent made it clear that he didn’t want to rush me, but I can’t resist a challenge, even an imagined one. In my 11 years as a full-time newspaper reporter, I never missed a deadline (though I’ve made some editors sweat). I thrived on the breaking news, the kind of stuff where targeted reporting, fast writing and just the write amount of clarity and creativity could land my story on the front page.
So why not put that to use.
I can’t write 50,000 words in a month, but maybe I can write 25,000 words. That’s less than 1,000 words a day, 834 words to be more precise. I don’t want to start fresh, not when I’m already one-third of the way through my next novel, so I can add to that instead.
I won’t officially join the NaNoWriMo effort either. The forums and emails are too distracting. I have trouble enough with Facebook, other writing forums and the twin parenting forums I frequent. I’ll be a loner unless some other busy writer out there wants to join me in some parallel word play.
Instead of answering to NaNoWriMo officials, I will answer here on my blog. I will provide updates in the middle of the month and at the end. And I will remain choosy about my words. No junk pages. No ramblings. Nothing expendable.
Though the stream-of-consciousness writing can be helpful for newer writers who are intimidated by the length of novels, I find it’s too much work to sort through the yucky stuff. It’s easier just to write well to begin with.
One last thing.
I won’t wait until November 1.
I’ll start right now.