Tuesday, October 20, 2009


So, last year I participated in NaNoWriMo, and – I’m not going to lie – I failed. I got to about 34,000 words and I couldn’t finish. Not because I didn’t have any ideas, but because I had TOO many. I’m still stalemated on that novel, not sure how to end it. Part of me wants to go back and rewrite from the point I began to have doubts about my plot, and finish it in an entirely different way. Part of me thinks I should just finish it from where I am, and see how it comes out. Regardless, my NaNoWriMo participation was less than stellar.

This year, I’m even more swamped with things. I’m taking two graduate classes (last year I was classless, but was still classy if you can believe it), and I have more commitments than I care to think about. My life has just been crazy lately, leaving little time for me to sit at home and write.

But. BUT. I want to. Oh, do I want to. And I keep thinking that if I can just get my body out of bed early in the mornings, I could start my day with an hour of writing, coffee and breakfast, and have a day that’s productive. It’s the getting up part that I haven’t succeeded yet, though.

So, I’m going back and forth. To write or not to write? I have no plot in mind for this year’s NaNoWriMo, so I suppose that’s my first hurdle. I have 11 days to come up with a plot I can write 50,000 words on or novel be damned. Some ideas I’ve toyed around with in the past:

  • A high school teenager who can read thoughts by touching people. She then meets a boy whose thoughts she can’t read, and the bizarreness of this event leads her to be alternately terrified of him and curious why he’s the only one she can’t read. (I began this story about… 10 years ago, believe it or not. But it never went anywhere, and so I wouldn’t mind starting from scratch. But now it just sounds like part of the Twilight books.)
  • An office worker is fired from his 9-5 and can’t find a job. He’s reduced to applying for a job at Wal-Mart, where he learns how poorly huge corporations treat their lowly employees. He becomes the champion of his workers, executing clever and maddening pranks on the management to get their attention, trying to lead his fellow workers into enlightenment about their ability to be autonomous. (This one came out of having actually worked at Wal-Mart and seen how terribly some of those employees live. Horrifying, really. Our store was so bad, that a year or two ago, I was sent a letter asking if I wanted to join a class-action lawsuit against that particular store for their treatment of the employees.)
  • A woman is employed at a 9-5 that she doesn’t love. Then, one day, she receives a writing desk in the mail from an aunt who passed away and left her the piece in her will. It comes with a letter that only reads, “So that you may write…” After living with the desk for a few weeks, she discovers, during a power outage, a secret compartment to the desk and finds letters from the sister of a famous author. After reading the letters, she discovered that it was the sister who did all the writing, and the famous author could barely string two words together. The mystery of this sister leads the woman to a long, fascinating search and discovery of her family history.

The last is my favorite, but I’m just not sure how to make it into a novel. I guess the goal of NaNoWriMo isn’t necessarily to write a good novel, but to write 50k words of one. And then maybe make it INTO a good novel. I may outline the story a bit more to see if I can make it go somewhere, and then take a stab at it.

The worst I can do is fail. Again. Right?


Robyn said...

Ha! I remember you telling me the first story idea in highschool! You should write that. Maybe focus it towards a young adult audience? I will help you edit it! Though, I also like the third idea. Maybe you could make it more novel-ish by making the real character's life sort of parallel the life she's reading about in the letters. That would add a lot of new characters and story lines. And, again, I'll help you edit it!

jill.christine said...

I love the last idea. Go with that. sounds very jane austen meets modern day.

Anonymous said...

I liked the last idea too. Sounds "romantical." I too got that class-action lawsuit in the mail about being denied breaks (which I was!) AND I only worked there 3 weeks. hahaha. Go with it! I have faith in you. Maybe your motivation will get me motivated to write more as well! I just want to journal.

Jenn said...

Thanks for the advice! It looks like the last one is the one I'm going to TRY to do. We'll see.

And Lori - you should totally get on blogger. It's such an easy way to journal, because you can do it from anywhere. And I'd totally read it. You're a great, descriptive writer!

Anonymous said...



Hahaha. It looks like the last time I posted was October 2006. I need to get with the program, huh?

We'll motivate each other!

But I'm very bad about telling the what I did all weekend kind of thing like a Dear Diary, but lately I've done what you say you like to do. It's more fun to just capture that one moment or fleeting memory in a captivating story than blab on about how you ran errands to Walmart...i.e. me!