Happy Groundhog Day! It’s been over a month since I’ve started this blog, and honestly, I’m surprised I’ve stuck with it this long. My sweet spot for dedication to a writing project – novel, story, blog, whatever – tends to be 30 days, so this is practically a record!
Actually, the 30-day time frame isn’t an estimate or a fluke. I’ve mentioned in other posts that I used to be more dedicated to writing, and over the past few years, my main writing projects have been part of the National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It’s essentially a writing marathon in which you write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Pretty easy, right? If your immediate thought is Absolutely not!, then fear not: the event also provides resources and an online/offline community of like-minded writers.
I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo six times now, and completed the challenge each time. The only problem is that I have the tendency to walk away from the novel once the 30 days (and the 50,000 words) are done. Or, in the case of one of the novels, it takes me years to actually get around to editing anything because I seem to need many month-long breaks in between any effort at all.
So what happened to these six novels?
November 2008: Project Improbus
Project Improbus, a dark, secretive society, has chosen Kira Lee Edwards as their new member, and it raises a lot of questions in the girl’s mind. Who are these people? How do they know so much about her – and her past? How far will they go to force her into the Project? Or is there something much darker at work beneath their campaign?
Spoiler alert: there was something darker at work beneath their campaign. It was a really bad plot. Since this was my first NaNoWriMo win, I got very excited about the “Winner Perk” that gave me a free proof copy of my novel from Amazon’s self-publisher Createspace. Unfortunately, I didn’t clue in that ordering the proof copy would actually publish the book on Amazon. It’s still there. Oops. But hey, I got my free copy!
November 2009: The Source
Marina has a hard time fitting in, and it’s not because she’s absorbed in her studies. She believes that draining a human’s life essence for power is wrong. But the world around her disagrees. The Sources are locked in glass cages next to every building, hooked up to tubes and wires, creating electricity until they are too weak to survive. When society goes too far for Marina to bear, she puts her future on the line for the Sources. As the stakes in her fight for equality get higher, Marina has to decide how far she is willing to go to save the Sources she has grown to love.
I got really excited about actually self-publishing this one, and I kept going back to it to make it better. But after 2 years of the gruelling editing process, I just wanted it to be done.
So I put it on Amazon. Meh.
November 2011: The Meaning of Escape
As she nears the end of her train ride with her daughter to Toronto, Melanie Trafford has a strange dream. She and the four other passengers in the car have been transported to a tranquil wilderness with no signs of civilization, where they spend the remainder of their day. She wakes up minutes later and is shocked at her vivid recollection of the events of her dream. In the days to come, she returns to this dreamland – but not only when she is sleeping.
The other passengers experience the same phenomenon. Each time they face a stressful situation, they are swept up into this new world, and return to reality only when the issue has been solved. To the group of strangers, it seems like the perfect way to escape life’s problems. But many questions remain: where is this dreamland? Why are they going there? And what, if anything, is the catch?
I wrote this one based on the premise, “I want to write a scene on a train”, because I had just started taking trains between home in Toronto and school in Kingston. Once I finished it, I officially abandoned it. I’ve heard this is called an “Under the Bed Book”, because that’s where it will stay.
November 2012: Coming Clean
When her gifted mother disappeared, Dawn became a cleanser in her place as the only female in the Guild. Trained in techniques of relaxation, the cleansers relieve their high-powered clients of their stress – and purge them of their secrets. Dawn finds that she is a particularly talented cleanser, and she might even have the fabled empathetic powers of her ancestors. But the Guild exploits her gifts, and Dawn learns far too much about the outside world, and the prison she once called home.
I felt like writing some fantasy. It got boring halfway through, but I spent more time planning this one than the previous year’s novel, so that part was okay. This is another “Under the Bed Book”.
November 2013: The Monotone Divergence
Maggie accepts a summer internship in a boring office. Her coworkers are a little…out there. Intrigue ensues.
Spoiler alert: one of her coworkers is an alien. Okay.
Literally the only thing I planned about this novel prior to November 1st was the title. Which was a pun. Except only to me. Let me know if you want me to explain it. Under the bed this shall stay.
November 2014: The 10-56
A desperate university grad takes a job as a Games Salesperson at Canada’s Wonderland, and she quickly gets in over her head with her coworkers in a plot to “make the most” of their summer.
I may have mentioned that I used to work at Canada’s Wonderland. This novel is about a heist, but it’s more about the behind-the-scenes details I wanted to record before I got a full-time job and forgot everything about it. (If you’re wondering, 10-56 is a radio code for theft. Now you know…) Once this was complete, my mother asked me to give it to her for Christmas that year (after some copy-editing, of course). Now that she’s passed it around my family, this book has had a whopping four readers. I think that’s enough for its lifetime.
I took last year off because I found I was missing some of the joy of NaNoWriMo by the end of 2014. But participating this year is definitely not off the table. Stay tuned!
Are you a writer? What became of your masterpieces?