Tag Archives: NaNoWriMo

True Confessions on NaBloPoMo and NaNoWriMo

One of these years, I swear to Christ, I’m going to unplug from the whole goddamn Internet for November.

We just do not get along, November and I.

November and me?


I don’t know if this NaBloPoMo thing is for me. I mean, just this week, there were – still are – quite a few topics I want to write about but haven’t had the energy for. Book reviews I need to finish. Thanksgiving planning. An update on a writing conference that happened on October 18. Friends’ novels I’ve promised to tell you about.

At the earliest, I’m usually sitting down to compose my daily NaBloPoMo entry at 8:30 or 9 p.m. I may know what I want to write about, but this first week, I’ve felt like I’ve been phoning it in. The writing isn’t up to my usually-too-self-critical standards.

Part of this has to do with the fact that I write and edit for a living. And believe me, I am grateful beyond belief to be able to spend my day focused on words and ideas that will help make Pittsburgh a better place, trust me. As a survivor of long-term unemployment hell, I am blessed to be where I am.

So far, I’ve been able to keep up with NaBloPoMo for 14 days.  That’s 13 days longer than I thought I would last. But I’ll be honest: some days I feel like I’ve been phoning it in. I’ll admit that I’ve taken unfinished drafts and added new writing that day to make them a finished post and to clear the docket of some languishing reviews and whatnot. (I have, as of this writing, 146 posts in Draft.)  In my view, this practice is OK because as long as new writing that day is involved, it counts. Right?

But it’s hard, and when it’s hard, that’s when the writing feels like writing just for the sake of posting. Is that what we want our blogs to be? Or is it better to write every day, knowing that sometimes our writing needs to marinate for several days before serving to our guests?

For me, blogging feels better when it is more the latter than the former.

Don’t even get me started on NaNoWriMo.  I haven’t written a word. This might as well be called NaDaNoBo  (NaDa. No Book.) Besides, I would technically be considered a cheater anyway because I would be writing a work in progress.  And that’s undergoing some revisions in genre to a collection of linked stories … of which I have some other thoughts.

Again, whatever.

Fifteen more days.

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making my peace with november, the month of All the Writing and Blogging Things

I would like to meet the person who decided that November would be the month when we do all the crazy-ass writing and blogging things we should have been doing the other 10 months of the year.

If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you know what I’m talking about.

NaNoWriMo. NaBloPoMo.  And whatever else is out there that’s just waiting to distract me from my regular life’s drudgery.

NaNoWriMo 2014 Participant


Because, believe me, nothing in my life is more exciting than the idea of spending November writing the next bestseller and blogging every day so I can build that elusive writer’s platform. You know, accomplishing those New Years Resolutions that I set for myself (once again) on January 1.

So, you know I signed up for NaNoWriMo. AGAIN. Of course I did.

And a few minutes ago, I signed myself up for NaBloPoMo, too.

I am clearly under the influence of too many pumpkin spice lattes.

Because I can’t help myself.

The difference this year is that I’ve learned to make my peace with November, which I’ve learned to look at as a writing month. One huge, messy, kick-ass, let’s-see-what-you’re-capable-of writing month, in all its hyper-caffeinated, pumpkin-spiced glory.

Miss a few days of NaBloPoMo? So what? Fall short of 50,000 words on the manuscript?  At the end of the day (and the month) what will it really matter? Who’s going to give a shit?

Life is so full of deadlines and pressures and other obligations that the only way I can survive November online is to play along, but with a healthy dose of reality at the outset. There’s no beating myself up for whatever lofty goals of my own volition I fail to accomplish because there is no failure in November.

Because whatever happens, I’ll still be ahead of my own game because any blogging and any novel writing done in November is a good thing, right?  Whatever happens, happens.

Game on.

(As soon as I get back from grocery shopping.)

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Schlemiel, Schlimazel, NaNoWriMo, NaNoFiMo …


Linvilla Orchards, Media, PA
September 2007

I’ve always found it kind of ironic that NaNoWriMo begins on The Day of the Dead.  Last year, when I was a bona-fide legitimate NaNoWriMo participant, I remember all too well how comatose I felt the morning after Halloween. I stayed up until the clock struck 12 and immediately began writing … and paid for it the next day.  (Which was a Sunday, but still.)

This year is a little different, for a few reasons. 

I love NaNoWriMo  – which, for those not in the know and too lazy to click on the link above, stands for National Novel Writing Month.  Each November, thousands upon thousands of would-be novelists try their hand at cranking out 50,000 words.  The idea is that by November 30, you’ll have the first draft of a novel. 

While I love NaNoWriMo, when I participated last year I learned that I’m not all that good at it. 

For one thing, life wound up getting in the way.  Bigtime.  I mean, hello … November?  Probably the busiest time of the year for our family with Betty and Boo’s birthdays, plays (one kid has been in a performance every November for the past three years), Thanksgiving, what seems like the entire month off from school between Election Day, Veteran’s Day, and Thanksgiving break, and preparations for the holidays.  Throw in work, getting dinner on the table, and everything else that passes for life around here and there’s not much time for novel writing. 

I’m also not a “throw-anything-on-the-page-and-deal-with-it-later” kind of writer.  I revise and edit as I write, which is counterintuitive to NaNoWriMo but the only way I know how to get anything on the page.

So, my modified version of NaNoWriMo is NaNoFiMo … which isn’t an original concept, as lots of people with novels in progress will be doing National Novel Finishing Month.  I’ll be among them, just writing along at my own pace.  I don’t have any goals.  If I write a page, great.  If I write 60 pages as I did last year, even better. 

How about you?  Are you participating in NaNoWriMo or NaNoFiMo or something else?  (If you’re on the NaNoWriMo site, feel free to be my buddy … I’m MelissaF over there.) 

“On your mark, get set and go now
Got a dream and we just know now
We’re gonna make that dream come true!
And we’ll do it our way, yes, our way
Make all our dreams come true
For me and you ….”

For those born in the post-Laverne and Shirley era:
schlemiel: an inept clumsy person; a bungler; a dolt (Yiddish shlemil from Hebrew שלא מועיל “ineffective”) (OED, MW)

schlimazel: a chronically unlucky person (שלימזל shlimazl, from Middle High German slim ‘crooked’ and Hebrew מזל mazzāl ‘luck’) (OED).[3] In June 2004, Yiddish shlimazl was one of the ten non-English words that were voted hardest to translate by a British translation company.[4] 

And yes … you are most welcome for putting “Making Our Dreams Come True” in your head for the rest of the day.  Or month.  It’s stuck in mine now, so I might as well share the joy and nostalgia with you.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

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Some Notes from My Novel In Progress

There was something different about his playing now, she could tell. An urgency of sorts. It was almost as if he knew there wouldn’t be enough time to play all the notes he needed to play, for all the songs that needed to be sung and the lyrics that needed to come out.

Because the hardest part was the not knowing. Not when he would die, no, not that. But what song – out of all the songs that had ever been – would be the last one he would hear.

copyright 2010, Melissa (Betty and Boo’s Mommy, The Betty and Boo Chronicles) If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.
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Leftover Links

I started a link roundup post right before the holiday weekend and just like the Thanksgiving leftovers, they’ve been sitting in the cyber-fridge for a couple of days. I was busy with the Thankfully Reading Weekend, cooking a feast (just for the four of us, but a feast nonetheless), work, catching up on some blog posts and bloghopping, and shopping on Saturday with Betty,

These leftover links are nothing but stale. Still as tasty as ever.

Nosh away.

Because it is a national holiday weekend and all, let’s start this week’s round up with a good Thanksgiving post from Another Delco Guy in South Jersey (who happens to be a friend of mine in real-life).

Another post (“Are We Ruining Our Kids?”) from Are We There Yet? looks at some of the same points I tried to make this week in my Material Girls … and Boys, and Moms, and Dads post.

If you’re inclined to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Elian Gonzalez saga (you’re a few days late if you are), you might be interested in stopping by Casa Elian, the museum dedicated to the boy that his uncle runs. (A shout-out to my new favorite blogger, Chez from Deus Ex Malcontent, for making sure that this anniversary did not fall off our radar, what with it being on the same day as Thanksgiving and all.)

And Chez’s post Must The Show Go On? about those idiots who crashed the White House dinner is definitely along the same lines as the one that The Dean and I wrote (“Reality Check”).

I had a Reality Check of my own this week, when I admitted that I wouldn’t be finishing NaNoWriMo. While I felt bad about not finishing, there was something about NaNoWriMo that wasn’t quite working for me. This brilliant Dear John letter to NaNoWriMo by author Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver) is exactly what I was thinking.

Spare Candy (another of my favorite, must-read-everyday blogs) has a thought-provoking (and sobering) post about the newest form of sexual assault.

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Time is NaNo More on My Side

Well, sad to say, it’s time to face the NaNoWriMo music. Cue up the Rolling Stones. Tiiii-iiii-iiii-ime is not on my side.

Not even close.

Let’s do the math, shall we?

I’m only at 18,180 words. In order to be a winner of NaNoWriMo, one must have 50,000 words. By midnight on Monday, November 30.
That translates into 10,666.67 words that I would need to write per day for the next three days. (The 666 part of that is kind of a sign that I’m doomed, don’t you think?) Or, put it another way, I’d need to write 420 words an hour for the next 77 hours. With no break whatsoever.

Some diehards might say this is perfectly doable, but since I happen to enjoy the finer things in life like sleeping, eating, and going to the bathroom so this is not going to be happening this year.
And, you know what? I’m OK with that.
(um … sorta).
With not finishing NaNoWriMo, that is. Not – let’s be very clearnot the novel itself. There’s too much invested on a personal level with that, so that will still go on. Just not via NaNoWriMo.
I kind of knew this would be the outcome, and I’ll admit, in some ways this makes me sad. It’s the perfectionist in me, the inner child who would never dare be seen with something as horrid as a Band-Aid on a boo-boo. That would, you see, be proof positive to the show the world that I screwed up, and that wasn’t acceptable.

Now, as an adult who is psychologically mummified in Band-Aids from life’s scrapes and bruises, this isn’t as much of an issue as when I was a kid.

Nonetheless, it’s still a little deflating.
Y’all know I’ve been kind of struggling with this project, and for a variety of reasons, this has been some of the hardest writing I’ve ever done. I’ll admit, this is not how I write and it’s not how I like to write. I write page by page, sentence by sentence, word by word. Maybe that’s not “correct.”

(If you ask Boo’s second grade teacher, it’s absolutely not. She forbids them to erase. They’re 8, and they are not allowed to fucking erase. Believe you me, I asked her about this point-blank during parent-teacher conferences, and the answer was, “I just want them to get their thoughts down. There’s no time for erasing and making things look nice and perfect.” With that, I swore I heard my father, a mechanical engineer who I absolutely inherited my perfectionistic tendencies from, rolling in his grave.)

So NaNo has been tough for me because it has been really hard to just write without editing. Case in point: I’m the most pleased with the three excerpts I’ve shared, and those have been subject to a wee bit of editing and tweaking on my part, which is a big no-no in NaNo. Still, I’m glad I tried and I’m pretty pleased with having cranked out 57 pages. That’s 57 pages and 18,180 words more than I had on Halloween.

To all those who finished (or who will most likely do so), I extend my most sincere congratulations. It’s a tremendous accomplishment and you should be proud.

And to the ones like me who won’t be finishing by the stroke of midnight, you’ve got company. Time may not be on your side … but for what it’s worth, I’m right there with you.

(photo taken by me in June 2009 at a Chuck E Cheese birthday party)

©Melissa of The Betty and Boo Chronicles 2008-2009. All rights reserved. If you’re reading this on a site other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via its feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

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NaNoWriMo Excerpt #3, Day 19

Here’s another excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel in progress. (In case you were wondering, I’m closing in on 18,000 words. I know … this does not exactly bode well for reaching 50,000 by month’s end, does it? However, I’m trying to look at this in a “glass half full” kind of way. This is 18,000 more words – or 53 pages – than I had before.)

Because even for all of her pseudo praying, Maggie had a sense that this was truly it. This was how it would end, and a part of her was angry that it was different than the ending she’d imagined. For she’d imagined something a little more dramatic – as if nearly crashing through a guardrail wasn’t dramatic enough – but given his personality and the life he led, she’d envisioned his final exit as more theatrical, not common and commingled with the thousands of others who would fade to black during this day or the night to come.

copyright MelissaF 2009
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