Sunday, December 7, 2014

A Month in the Nano

 Image source:

Written last year in 2013:

This month, for the first time, I signed up for Nanowrimo, to write up several short stories as part of a collection, to support my friend Corissa Glasheen.

I normally don't do Nano because November happens to be the month before finals, in both high school and college.

Written this year:

The text above was from a blog post intended for December. Obviously I never finished that, for various reasons. Some days the words just don't flow.

Image source:

I did Nanowrimo this year again, or tried to. Despite having time pressure, and knowing that the writing would require at least several hours a day, I made an attempt after seeing more of my friends take a stab at it. My goal was smaller, being in graduate school and having less time in the day to do a huge novel, but I thought I could do 25,000 words. Simple, right?


Things had changed greatly in a year, both on the outside and on the inside. For one, I was fighting a lot of inner doubts due to the amount of schoolwork that was piling up, not to mention an internal battle about what I prioritized. In my senior undergraduate year, I had a relatively less rigorous curriculum, having fulfilled most of my requirements, and I had achieved minor success by publishing several short stories. This year I had a novella and several short stories published, but the academic course load was much higher for my MBA, and my stories weren't gelling together as well as they used to.

This kept going on through my head every time I started a story

For another, the words weren't coming as easily as they had come the year before. As mentioned in an earlier post, the home obligations and responsibilities increased tenfold, and when things are dramatic, I have trouble writing.
When I finally did have time to write, little as it was, I kept asking myself what needed the highest priority. My plan was to write a small collection of short stories, some fanfiction and some of it original. One of the fanfiction pieces actually got finished, but most of the other stories were incomplete or had extremely rough endings. Over the winter holidays I'm probably going to return to them, including a character sketch based on a former opera singer I encountered while doing group projects.

With that said, I managed to elucidate to my classmates that I had written a book, thanks to Public Speaking class. We had an assignment to pitch any product, so I pitched Carousel as a potential film for Laika Animation Studios for roughly five minutes.The professor later commented that I finished each sentence as if it were a question, and that my body language could use some work, but at least five classmates asked where they could buy the book. One even bought a hard copy that I had on me.

Do I regret taking on the extra project, though, and missing my personal goal? No, because the main reason I signed up was to support friends who were doing Nanowrimo, who had the time and the energy to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Those friends actually did make the goal, and I had the privilege of reading their preliminary material. Reading that material was a November highlight.
Add a cat sitting on her lap, and this would be my friend in question. She and her cat are awesome together.
Image source:

The experience also taught me an important writing lesson: have a focus. Finish a story after starting it, before moving on to the next one, even if the story is terrible. Find an outlet for the stress going on, even a writing outlet. And always talk it out with someone to find out why the words aren't gelling.

I'm going to sign off and buckle down for finals this week, after which I will spend the month of December writing, learning from what happened in November. Forget November being National Novel Writing month; December is Daily Writing Fiction Month for this writer. I am going to be more productive and take advantage of the month's vacation from school.

Happy Holidays, and congratulations to everyone that made their Nanowrimo goal.


SP Sipal said...

I didn't finish NaNo this time round either, Priya. Family illness stopped me short. But I'm committed to getting the most out of December. Sounds like you've got a lot going on. I wish you the best of luck getting a lot written over break!

Priya Sridhar said...

I hope that things are better on your end! So sorry to hear.
My goal is to write lots this month. At the moment, trying to see if I can incorporate Lovecraftian elements into this character sketch I wrote Nanowrimo; Greek mythology wants to enter instead.