Tuesday, December 4, 2018

NaNoWriMo Shenanigans // Part One

How did my NaNoWriMo go, you ask? Let me tell you, it went better than I thought. I realize that sounds anticlimactic, considering how disappointing last year was for me. If you’ll recall, my goal was to write anywhere between 50K and 100K words. I ended up with 121,121. Definitely not something to turn up your nose at. Compared to last year, when I felt like I was digging words out of my brain with a spoon, this NaNo was a cakewalk. Even in the best month, not every writing day is going to be amazing. Most days are just average. But this month was full of more amazing days than I think was my fair allotment.

I’m going to cover this NaNo update with two posts, because I worked on two major projects, and I have a lot to gush about. I also figure I’ll share a snippet or two per project, because I’m feeling magnanimous.

You might recall that, way back in November 2016, I drafted a story I have oft referred to as my Super Secret Novella Side Project (SSNSP). My plan had been to whip that thing into shape and share it on my blog, back when it was supposed to be, you know, a novella. Then I got sick, and it sat untouched for a long time. When I finally picked it up and started working on it again, it was only as (brace for it) a side project, something I pulled out when my main WIP was stalling. Somewhere along the line, I decided that while it would make a decent novella, I also wanted to expand on it and explore how it would play out as a novel.

I may have, from time to time, referred to SSNSP as GITM, though I can’t remember. Either way, GITM is a meaningless title, a stand in with little relevance to what the story has become, so feel free to forget it immediately. When I began drafting it in 2016, I’d wanted to write a story with a glitch in the matrix sort of feel, so that’s what I called it, but it very quickly veered off course to something I like a whole lot better. Right now, it still doesn’t have an official title, but I’m changing the stand in to HIRAETH, which is a great deal more applicable.

When I started work on it this November, it was a feeble, 20K word story, gap-toothed and malnourished. I already had a chunk of it edited, but my main challenge was to beef it up and give it a good, thorough scrubbing.

About halfway through the month, I finished the draft, which is a weird sort of draft 2 hybrid. Let me clarify. My first draft was 100,000 words or so of mayhem, in which I drafted the story multiple times, back to back and in no particular order, trying to get a handle on what I wanted to say. Then I went into an editing frenzy and hacked away at it, keeping only the scenes and, in most cases, paragraphs that I thought had potential. I had the gall to call it a second draft, but it was only an 8,000 word, semi-coherent, extra-detailed outline. That round included zero editing, only chopping, so it doesn’t deserve a draft number, in my opinion. Then I started adding to it and editing as I went, that being the process I finished this November. I’m choosing to call this completed draft a second draft, because that’s how it looks chronology-wise, but I’ve been told it’s very clean for a second draft, and it certainly feels that way.

Currently, it is still a feeble book-thing. It weighs 42,000 words soaking wet, which, translated into normal-people-speak, is not even 200 pages. I love it. I love it to pieces. I have already read it twice through, just for fun, and I don’t normally do that sort of thing, because it’s hard not to see flaws everywhere I look. This book has been the easiest, most painless piece of writing I have ever pulled from my brain box, and it’s a breath of fresh air on the heels of DRACONIAN.

I still need to feed it some protein powder to give it muscles, because it’s a scrappy little thing, and my goal has gone from being a nice person and sharing it on this blog, to seeking out traditional publishing. I’ll need to insert some scenes, at least 8,000 words worth, (which feels like coming full circle) and I have some anxieties about that, because the pacing feels tight, and I don’t want to throw off the balance I think I’ve achieved. But I also have to make the science in it accurate and sufficiently nerdy, and I’ve got some ideas. I’m ruminating. I already got one set of beta feedback, which made me cry happy tears.

Here’s a quick rundown on what it’s about, without giving too much information: The crew of the Hiraeth, the most advanced spaceship Earth has ever produced, is tasked with terraforming a planet lightyears from home, but soon the mission devolves into chaos as the ship begins to break down, and, one by one, people start to go mad.

I could gush about this thing forever, but I think I’ll end up turning into one of those moms who talks up their snot-nosed little Johnny so much everyone secretly hopes Lassie will push him into the well. So I’ll just leave you with this snippet.

Objectively, you know that there are six thousand windows on the Hiraeth. Until recently, you had not realized exactly how many windows that is. It is a staggering number. You can avoid them a great deal during the day, if you stick to the inner portions of the ship. Where they present the most trouble for you is when you are on the flight deck, which contains the largest window of them all, and when you walk to your quarters at night. For whatever reason, the ship’s designers thought the captain would want a view of the outdoors, and so they built your quarters on the outer ring. You must walk along a corridor of windows to reach your room, and once inside, you are faced with another. It is almost as if they thought you would want to look out at the stars.

Over the past couple nights, you have considered relocating your quarters, but for a long list of reasons—the first being convenience and the last being your desire to maintain an appearance of normalcy—you have decided not to do that yet.

With every window you pass on the stretch of corridor, like an endless house of mirrors, you feel eyes on you. It’s subtle. If you force yourself to focus on other things, you can even forget it for a while. But then, inevitably, you remember—you feel it again. It’s less a sense of being watched and more of being observed. Not like being seen, like being looked at. So there it stays, in the back of your mind, an adrenaline drip building up in your blood.

That’s it for today, Coffee Beans. If you participated in NaNoWriMo, what projects did you work on? What are you excited about (writing or otherwise)?


  1. Congrats on NaNoWriMo! That is so exciting! Also, I loved the snippet. The second person pov is compelling.

    And totally go for publication!

  2. This is super exciting! :D Congrats and happy writing/editing!

  3. I'm glad you had such a good NaNo! And your story sounds super cool! :D It's always so great when you write something you like so much that you actually enjoy reading it yourself.

    This NaNo I worked on a Robin Hood-esque fantasy about prophecies and trees. It's been super fun and I'm hoping to finish it this month. :D


  4. Good to see you blogging again! I’m really happy you have a great NaNo! Is the whole book written in second person? Happy editing!

  5. Glad NANO went well for you! Ooh, Hiraeth sounds chilling!