NaNoWriMo Reflections – 50,000 words in a month

So, it’s my first time in NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month and I did a lot of prep – in terms of note-making; reading books about how to write a novel and determining a structure and focus to the very first draft of a “novel” (Note the quotation marks.)

November is NaNoWriMo and the primary requirement to be a winner is to write 50,000 words during the month. You submit your manuscript and if their computer says 50,000 words, you’re a winner and you’re sent a web link where you can download your own certificate and a badge for your website.

I’m at only 38,000 and most of it is really not even close to being novel-ready. One of the books I read said for memoir (which is kind of like a novel, or at least can follow a similar structure, or even be a draft of a novel – i.e. get your own experience and thoughts down and then power-tweak into fiction) you just write and the structure reveals itself, as opposed to *real* novel writing where it’s highly advised to start with an outline and character profiles etc. – But not so detailed that you can’t be open to changes as your characters take on a life of their own.

So, it’s November 26, I’ve written 37,000 words, but I’m lagging behind what’s required. If you’re lagging behind, you’ve got company.

But the good thing is that after years of saying ONE DAY I’ll write a novel or in THREE DAYS on the Labour Day weekend I’ll do the novel writing contest, the THIRTY DAYS approach is working – I still hope to win – but it’s been a good focus any how. Possibly I’ll be in the habit of writing every day or at least most days by the time November 30 hits.

I’ve resorted to fairly devious methods to up my word count. I figure the style of the novel/memoir may wind up including diary bits like Bridget Jones etc., so, for instance, I’m counting this blog as a contribution (330 words so far.)

My previous desperate measure, which I’m continuing with is when I’m writing something that involves a person I was connected with, I’m sending off a bit of the memoir to that person. So far,I’ve had good response to 3 of them, and no response yet from the 4th.

It feels scary doing that even though I’m “picking my spots” – they’re basically “gratitude” notes to people who were supportive during my 8 years “dream job that turned into a nightmare”.

As an extrovert, I find it easier to write to someone than to keep on writing something that I may never show to anyone.

Many novels are, as they say, “frankly autobiographical” so I recommend this process to anyone. Even if you’re keeping for the first draft to the truth (as you perceive it), knowing that it will change to fiction or at least creative non-fiction before being shared, allows a bit of latitude. As I understand it “memoir” as opposed to “memoirs” or “autobiography” is in fact reflections rather than an effort to document events and history as it happened. So lots of room to claim one’s own voice and perspective.

I’d been thinking about the structure and was told the basic structure is the protagonist is in a cage; they make attempts to get out that are unsuccessful and then they do. It was even hard to think about: what was the cage? was the cage the previous work that I was looking to change? or the new job that was very demanding? was the cage the fact I had to travel a lot? – a cage away from home?

Ultimately while attending a weekend workshop with Jungian analyst James Hollis it occurred to me to use the 22 Major Arcana cards of the Tarot as my structure. A little odd, but I know a fair bit about tarot – have done some art work based on it too – and from Fool through to World (as in a new–inner–world order) it follows  a sequence and journey.

I like structures – recently I heard Corwin Fergus, another Jungian, say that creativity/unconscious responds well to limits.

It’s been helpful to me to reflect on what experiences and what people come to mind when I contemplate the various cards and their meanings.

For instance, The Empress Card, Number III, is all about creative abundance and it makes me think of the religious educators in our congregations – always full of hugs, smiles, snacks, art supplies and ideas. I found my contact with RE folk very nourishing to my soul during my work time.

I remember once going to a meeting and everyone was sharing why they were there. It occurred to me that beyond the obvious need to connect with these congregational leaders in their roles and share with them updates and answer questions, I was there to get fed – in so many ways. I left feeling supported and uplifted.

Long Live the Empresses!



2 Comments to “NaNoWriMo Reflections – 50,000 words in a month”

  1. You go girl! I’m trying hard to think of what to say that could become a really really really really really really long comment that could add word count to your novel. But alas, I am simply in awe of all wrimo’s, and wanted to congratulate you. 50 000 words or not, you win! Your concept is intriguing.. hope you are going to keep us informed. the topic is hot – a lot of people have been or are in work situations gone toxic. And then to use tarot as an inspiration.. that’s wicked.
    Okay, so this is about 100 words. Feel free to throw it in anywhere if it helps!

  2. Congratulations Mary!
    What an ambitious undertaking… Can we get to read it now that its done?

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