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Why I NaNoWriMo Failed

frustrated_writer_200They say excuses are like assholes; everybody has one and they usually stink.  But not everybody has a blog where they can wallow in their own stench.  So for my first blog is a little while, let me ask you all to sniff my… no wait…  Let me ask you all to listed to my excuses for not succeeding at NaNoWriMo.

‘Excuse’ is not necessarily the right word though.  That implies that what happened will make it okay that I didn’t complete NaNoWriMo.  But it doesn’t make it okay.  Or maybe it does.  ‘Reasons’ is a better word to use.  So these are the reasons I didn’t complete a novel during National Novel Writing Month.

I not only didn’t complete a novel, I didn’t even come close.  I completed 15643 words on Dereliction of Duty, which is not even close to giving it the old college try.  In fact, I stopped writing after the 11th.  And the days before that were not consistent.  All in all, I flat out failed to even try to do this.

I stated off with a commitment to do it.  I was eager by the middle of October.  I had the drive to do it and expected that I could.  This was going to be my NaNo year.  Then on October 28th my job calls me very late in the day and tells me not to come to work the next day.  No explanation given, just simply that they’d be in touch.  So I spent that whole night, and the remainder of the week, wondering what I had done wrong.  I had done nothing wrong and could think of nothing I had done wrong.  I still maintain that I’ve done nothing wrong.

It wasn’t until the 1st of November that they finally contacted me.  They needed me to come out and interview with them.  I did.  Their entire case against me was flimsy, falsified, and inadequate.  But they knew if they didn’t blame me for something they’d have to pay me for all my time off.  That wasn’t going to happen.  And since I anticipated I was going to be fired, I began looking for work.

When I am out of work, I can’t sit back and collect unemployment checks (which I still haven’t received any of those).  I have to spend those hours when I would have been working, out looking for work.  When I am doing anything other than looking for work I feel like I am not doing my best to find work.  So every time I started writing my novel, I felt I needed to be looking for work.  My mind just wasn’t in it.  Not to mention my mind running though the what ifs of the on going investigation.  I thought these coworkers were my friends, or at least that we got along, and a number of them back-stabbed me hard.  Finally on November 19th, over three weeks later, the company fired me.  By that point I knew it was coming.  That doesn’t mean it was any easier.  I absolutely loved that job, my recent promotion made it even better, and to lose it was a heart breaking moment.  I had expected to work there for a long time to come.  But, this is one reason I couldn’t focus on NaNoWriMo.

Rewind to the start of October.  There was a discussion of a coworker who wanted to move to Asheville, North Carolina.  He is very talented with music, and he said the music scene was strong there.  He also told me the writing scene is strong there.  But, North Carolina is too far from my family and though I once wanted to move out of state, as I mentioned above, I just got this promotion and I loved my job.

My wife and I have contemplated moving out of California for a number of years.  I’d say five or more now.  My personal choice has always been Washington State.  I have been up there several times and I absolutely love it.  But every time we started to plan a move up there, we backed out for one reason or another.  The most recent time being because I got the promotion at work.  But anytime someone talked about moving to another state, I’d always get to thinking about Washington.  I finally said to myself, or God, or whomever was listening to my thoughts at that time, that I needed some sign that I had made the right choice to stay in California and work for the company I was with.  A week later I was suspended out of nowhere (did I mention I’d never been in trouble there before).

Well as far as signs from a higher power, I think this was the slap in the face I needed.  So I began to discuss the idea with my wife again.  The family and I drove up to Spokane (which I had never been to) on the 5th.  Then we drove across the state to Seattle on the 6th.  Then we drove down to Vancouver (Washington) on the 7th.  And home on the 8th.  From my house that is a lengthy car ride, and a lot of miles covered.  But I wanted my wife to see the state that I wanted to go to.  Plus, I had a friend to visit, family to visit, and a job to test for. So you can see, there wasn’t much time for writing those four days.

At that point we decided we would make this change.  We would try to make this move up there in June or July when the kids finished this school year.  Then we’d move to either Spokane or Seattle depending on where I could get work and my wife could transfer her job.

Fast forward to the 15th of November (my Birthday).  My landlord shows up at my house with a 30 day notice to move out.  Now keep in mind, I’m paying the rent.  But there was a little mix up where someone stole his mail and the rent check got cashed by someone else.  But my bank cleared it up and he got paid.  I guess that was enough for him, because he wanted us out by the 15th of December.

So, my wife and I had numerous long talks.  And the decision was made to accelerate our plans to move.  We didn’t see the point in moving, just to do it again in six or so months.  So, I had to go back up to Seattle for a job interview on the 20th, 21st, and 22nd.  I also looked at several places to live.  And, we did find a place that would take us in on my wife’s income.

So now, I’ve been packing and planning a long distance move (something close to 900 miles) up to Washington State.  And trying to pack this house up.  And downsize it a bit so I don’t have to haul as much.

All this while still working to get Issue 9 of Plasma Frequency out on the deadline of December 5th.

Losing a job, and now moving plans, meant I just simply haven’t had my mind on the story I need to write.

But there is some good news too.  My next novel to be released, Broken Trust, is in the hands of beta readers.  Also, the great artist Mallory Rock designed the cover art of it.  I’ll do a formal reveal very soon (though you can already see it if you follow me on Facebook).  And, I’m told the second edition of Dissolution of Peace is very close to being ready.

Anyway, those are my assholes, er.. I mean excuses, for why I didn’t win at NaNoWriMo.

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Ten Reasons Why This is my NaNoWriMo Year

book signingLast year I wrote a humorous blog post on the ten reasons I would not be doing NaNoWriMo.  For those that don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  And I am fully ready for November to start so that I can begin, and finish a novel in one month.  So I thought that I would do a 180 on last year’s post and tell you the reasons why I chose this year to start.

1. You can only say NaNoWriMo so many times.

It is a lot of fun to say.  And you can only say it so many times before you wonder why you aren’t doing it.  I’ve been saying NaNoWriMo for about three years now, and I’ve yet to do it.  So the way I see it, I’ve used up my free chances to say it, and now I either have to participate or stop saying it.  I’d rather participate.

2. This is the year I am accomplishing writing goals I put off.

For two years I kept stalling on going to a WorldCon.  I missed Reno, I missed Chicago, and I almost passed on San Antonio.  But, something made me say I needed to do it this year, and I finally attended my first WorldCon.  I had such a blast that I can’t wait to get to more conventions.  It really kick started my writing in a way I had never imagined.

So, if I had such a blast with that.  Why not keep up the good work?  I’ve been putting off NaNoWriMo with so many excuses, and well this is the year.  So I am going to try it.  And I may very well like it.  And it is just the kick in the pants I need to work on some other projects.

3. The timing is right this year.

I just finished the second draft on Broken Trust and it is off to Beta Readers.  That means I currently have no writing projects that are going on for the month of November.  So it is the perfect time for me to start a new project and work on something fun.

4. Dissolution of Peace needs the sequel.

Reader feedback tells me that if I don’t get a sequel to Dissolution of Peace out soon, I’ll be strung up by my toes.  So the sequel in my NaNoWriMo project, and that could mean an early 2014 release.  Maybe…

5. I have too much stress going on right now.

On the face value, that may seem like a reason not to participate.  But, for me writing started as a stress reliever.  That was how the original manuscript for Dissolution of Peace was written.  So taking a break from some of the stress factors in my life may be exactly what I need to relax for the holiday season.

6. I have to justify the purchase of my Tablet.

I recently purchased the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3.  I got it for a variety of reasons, the main being use for the business and my writing.  Right now I write in my office, which eliminates a lot of writing time.  Now that I can write virtually anywhere, I can finally accomplish a lot of writing.  So I am excited about using it.  Plus, I have to justify the expense to my wife.

7. I have more staff to help me with Plasma Frequency.

November is still a production month.  Issue 9 will be released on December 5th.  But I know have much large staff to assist me, and I am recruiting more staff members.  So that means that I can better divide my attention between my writing and my magazine.

8. It is time I connect with more Writers

I need to connect with more writers, I enjoy their company and I really want to connect with more.  I missed out on a lot of chances to network when I was in San Antonio.  But, NaNoWriMo is a chance to network with all kinds of writers from all different genres and locations.  They even have regional connections so I can find a few writers in my area.  You can find my profile too and I can connect with you.

9. I plan to be a writer by career.

In order to make money as a fiction writer, you have to publish fiction.  I write novels now, though I may tackle a few shorts later, so that means writing novels.  If I can tackle a novel in one month, like I plan to do with NaNoWriMo, than maybe I can do it again in say February.  And maybe again in May, July, September, and then I am back at NaNoWriMo again.  That may seem a bit ambitious.  But if I write the first draft in one month, I figure that once editing and beta reading is done, I can publish three novels a year.  And if I can do that, then I hope that someday I can get enough books out there to be recognized.  And with that comes  a little bit of money.  And who knows in five more years, I can just focus on being what I always wanted to be… a writer!

10. I have the perfect outfit.

Last year I just simply could not figure out what I would wear to NaNoWriMo.  I didn’t know the dress code.  But this year I learned that I can come dressed whatever way I want.  They even have a store if I want to wear NaNoWriMo gear.  I’ve also lost a few pounds so maybe it won’t be so bad if I attended naked… on second thought I’ll bring pants.

 

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Ten Reasons Why I Won’t be Doing NaNoWriMo

Every one in my writing communities is asking me if I will be doing NaNoWriMo this year.  For those that don’t know, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month.  The idea is that you start, and complete a novel in November.  It is actually a great idea.  Especially if you need a quick kick in the ass to get writing that novel you’ve been telling yourself you’d write for years.

I won’t be participating this year.  When I tell my fellow authors that, they all want to know: Why?  I can even hear some of them looking down upon me for my choice to exclude myself.  So I put together my ten reasons why I won’t be doing NaNoWriMo.  You may call them “excuses” but the word “reasons” makes me feel better about myself.  Besides, every now and then I like to put something together that is a little tongue in cheek.

1. November is a production month for Plasma Frequency:

Yep, that is right.  I run this magazine and Issue 3 has to be ready December 5th.  That means that I will be spending much of my non-day job hours working on getting Plasma Frequency laid out and ready for print.  Not to mention designing ads for the issue (you should get an ad to advertise the novel you finish during NaNoWriMo).  And since I likely will be paying for most or all of Plasma Frequency‘s stories and artwork out of my own pocket, I’ll also need to pick up some extra hours at my day job.

2. I have to work my day job.

Believe it or not my writing doesn’t pay all my bills.  I have to work a day job to try to pay my bills.  A day job that doesn’t even pay enough to pay my monthly rent.  So that also means I will be needing to pick up any extra hours I can.  Since I have to pay my rent, phone, internet, power, water, and Plasma Frequency‘s running costs.  In all, I have to put up a lot of hours at work to try to make ends meet.  Those extra hours are all hours I normally reserve for writing, editing, and family time.

3. My family needs me too.

Yep, I am throwing them under the bus here.  But it is true.  And there are a lot of family events happening in November.  My birthday and Thanksgiving being two of them.  These are often all day events in my family so that means two more lost days in the tight schedule.

And since my birthday is in November, I don’t have to do NaNoWriMo.  I think it is in the rules.  If it isn’t in the rules, than I am adding it to my own personal NaNoWriMo rules.

4. I have volunteer commitments

I volunteer on the Board of Directors for my local soccer league.  And, I coach in that league.  And, two of my three boys play in that league.  The season ends in November.  So there are two year end parties to attend.  And there is one weekend ate up to the end of season tournament.  So there are four more days that NaNoWriMo can’t have.

5. I already started a Novel.

I have already started a novel.  My second novel is already in the works.  And in NaNoWriMo you are supposed to start and finish in November.  So if I participated, I would be cheating.  And no one likes cheaters.  I could start the sequel for Dissolution of Peace, but I am not a person that can write two novels at once.  I can edit one and write another.  I can even write a short story while doing a novel.  But I just can’t do two novels at once.  It is my writing style.

6. I didn’t participate last year.

I didn’t do NaNoWriMo last year, in fact I have never done it.  I don’t need to explain myself for past years, those are past years.  But, I am far to busy to start something new in November.

7. I don’t want to sacrifice quality for speed.

I get that you don’t have to have a print ready manuscript by the end of November.  The point is to have the first draft done.  But the first draft is the foundation for that final manuscript.  You have to have something to work with or the story is lost.  At least that is my opinion.  And as you can see I already have a lot of things taking up my time.  I bet I probably could still throw 50,000 words down in the time I have left, but I don’t think they would be worth the paper, or disk space, they are written on.  I would feel like I am sacrificing quality just to get it done on time because of my crowded schedule.

8. I don’t want to be another blogger spending all of November blogging about NaNoWriMo.

Every year the writing blogs fill up with constant talk about NaNoWriMo.  Or even worse, they virtually shut down for a month.  Both, I don’t wish to do.  Sometimes my schedule is so crowded that these posts are the only writing I get done for weeks or months.  And I don’t want to take a break for writing my novel, to tell you about how NaNoWriMo is going.  I’d prefer to be the destination my followers can come to read a post or two that is away from the topic of NaNoWriMo.  Don’t get me wrong, if you participate in NaNoWriMo, you may want to read about the progress of others.  I just don’t feel like blogging about it, and/or not blogging for a month.

“But Richard,” you say. “You are blogging about NaNo right now.”  To those people I say, this doesn’t count.  It is still October.

9.  I have a current novel to promote

We have established that my schedule is tight.  Well, Dissolution of Peace needs to sell.  And it won’t sell with out someone marketing it.  That someone is me.  My October sales have slowed drastically, and I hope to kick it into high gear for November and December.  That means more free time used to find reviewers, advertising, and self marketing.  Maybe even trying to set up a book signing or two.  That all takes time.  So rather then starting a third novel (just yet), I need to market the first one.

10. I have nothing to wear.

You heard me correctly.  No one wants to see me sitting around naked in my office writing a novel.  What does one wear to a virtual writing gathering anyway?  Is it a virtual black tie?  Or is virtual business casual okay?  Perhaps a virtual suit is sufficient.  That’s the thing, I simply don’t know.  And to save myself the embarrassment, I simply won’t attend.  Besides, I heard it was a Sadie Hawkins event and no one has asked me.

NaNoWriMo is a good thing

Sure, I am not attending.  But NaNoWriMo is a great event.  And perhaps one year I will be able to do it.  But that year is not 2012.  If you have time and want to do it, I suggest you check out the website.  There is no better way to stimulate your writing glands and put together something great.  If you are stalling to start writing, but just haven’t done it, NaNoWriMo is a great way to jump in.  At the very least, check it out.  Every year I do.  And as I said before, one year I will do it.

Perhaps I will have my own personal NaNoWriMo.  Who says November has to be the only month you write a novel in?  If you are like me, perhaps you make January your month, or even July.  And even though I joked about the NaNoWriMo related blogs, I tend to learn a lot more about writing when NaNo is going on than I do other times of year.  Authors are always willing to help each other out.  So even if you don’t participate, you are bound to learn something this November.

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