Picture Book Month and NaNoWriMo

Poor November! When people decide they should use a month to honor something, to do something, or just to get ready for December, they seem to pick November.

It’s already got that fabulous holiday Thanksgiving, and Veteran’s Day as well — almost the only holiday left that hasn’t gotten pushed to Monday, and thus the one it’s common for schools not to celebrate. My son’s school doesn’t. Instead they have this coming Monday and Tuesday off (when I will have to work) for teacher work days at the end of first quarter.

Even FlyLady, who is so wonderful about teaching you are not behind; you do not need to catch up, has you already preparing for Christmas in November.

Now, one I can really support is Picture Book Month. Their website is going to feature a post by a picture book author every day of the month — definitely worth checking out! In a related story, this manifesto written by several picture book authors is positively awesome! I would love to post a picture book review every day of November, but, alas! There are so many other things going on…

Like NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo is a fabulous idea that has really taken off. It’s a challenge for writers everywhere to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November. And since everyone’s doing it together, you can post your wordcount online and encourage one another.

I love the idea of NaNoWriMo. I wish someone had thought of it back before I worked full-time. I thought I’d give it a go this year. It seemed perfect, since I’m at a good place to start a new novel, and that’s one of the requirements. However, there are some problems for me.

1. I’m in this for the long haul; I want a sustainable goal.
It looks like I could get the 50,000 words written in 30 days if I were willing to spend two hours per day. I could probably spend two hours a day if I were willing to let everything else go — no blog posts, no reading, no hiking, no cleaning, no game-playing, no “fluff” whatsoever. Then when the month was over I could crash in relief and try to put my life back together. I greatly prefer the goal from the book The Weekend Novelist to write — and revise — your novel in a year. Then you’re actually done at the end of the process, not just with a big fat pile of words that needs to be pruned.

2. I’ve always preferred time goals to quantity goals.
I’ve memorized large quantities of Scripture in my life, and I fully believe that the key is that I set my goals by time not quantity. Some passages are harder to learn than others, so if you set a goal of a certain number of verses, you have no idea how long that will take, and you might have trouble meeting your goal. So with writing. The phrase “Writing is rewriting” is so old, it’s a truism. Using a word count goal doesn’t give you any credit when you cut an entire page and then write it better and shorter. I also find I write much better if I spend a little time planning — writing about my writing. But a word count goal doesn’t take that into account. For the last couple years, I’ve been semi-consistently writing at least a half-hour every day. If I don’t worry about quantity, that seems to go very well.

3. I would prefer to have the novel all done in a year than have the first draft finished in a big messy pile in a month and then be tired of it.

With these things in mind, here are my writing goals, in order of priority, for the upcoming month and onward:

1. Get enough SLEEP!

I had a stroke three months ago. And I was healing nicely when a couple of weeks ago I had a setback and was back to feeling light-headed whenever I stand or walk for more than a minute or so. The fact is, I need to get enough sleep if I’m going to function. I would really like to stop taking Sick Leave, though that may mean that some days I will have to go straight to bed after work. That has got to be my first priority, and is a big part of why I’m not going to do NaNoWriMo by the group rules.

2. Send one query per week to agents about my completed young adult novel, The Mystical Mantle.

If I get an offer for representation on this novel or any sort of request for revision, then it will be time to drop the new novel and work on getting my already-written book published. Whether it’s the middle of NaNoWriMo or not.

3. Spend at least 30 minutes per day writing the first draft of my new novel.

But this time can include planning. At this rate, I will hope to finish the first draft by February or March, but it’s fine whenever it happens. My goal will be to WRITE it. I will hope to completely finish it by the end of 2012. By that time, if I haven’t yet sold The Mystical Mantle, it will be time to market the new book.

4. Finish posting reviews of all the books I’ve read in 2011 before the end of the year.

This is one of the things I’m not willing to give up in order to blitz NaNoWriMo. I just got caught up writing the reviews, but I’m still quite a bit behind on posting them.

5. Finish posting about my vacation and other trips on my Sonderjourneys blog.

My last post was the middle of vacation, and I still haven’t blogged about the awesome wedding with ALL 12 of my brothers and sisters and me there.

So, I think I’ll still post my word count on the NaNoWriMo site, because I am starting a new first draft of a novel. But I’m not going to be daunted when November ends and I haven’t finished. Like I said, I’m in this for the long haul. I’m going to write another book. This new one will be my fourth book and my third novel, and I am determined to finish it. I am determined to cultivate a lifestyle of being a writer, not just a one-month sprinter.

Here goes! Write on!


I already explained why I couldn’t really participate in NaNoWriMo this year. My son pointed out an acronym invented by John Green that does tell what I’m trying to do: NaFADOYBIMSCOM, which stands for National Finish A Draft Of Your Book, I Mean, Seriously, Come On Month.

To help feel like I’m accomplishing something, I am keeping track of the words I write on my book and on my blogs. My stats as of yesterday, the 12th day of NaFADOYBIMSCOM, are 15,293 words. I have gotten through the revision part of working on my book and am now trying to rewrite the ending. So far, I’m having a lot of trouble deciding about how some details should go. I took out the happy ending, and basically want the main characters to escape together but for the bad guy to seem to win — but the two find each other and you know they’re going to win out in the end. But I’m trying to decide how to make that work. Maybe I should go back to my happy ending, but let the bad guy escape, so you know he’s going to cause trouble in the future…. Anyway, I’m working on it and do hope to at least finish a draft this month.

I’m staying busy, giving my attorney different papers to get ready for divorce court in a week. But I got some great news to cheer me up: I’m going to be reinstated as a librarian!

Basically, one of the county’s librarians retired, and I am on the top of the re-employment list. So I don’t have to interview. They will just transfer me to a different department, but keep my pay exactly the same — just like they did when I had to leave the library.

I am very, very happy about this. Although my temp job was fairly interesting and had great hours and wonderful co-workers, it was mainly about keeping bureaucracy running smoothly. And while that’s all very well and good, and somebody needs to do it, I would rather it was not me.

I do think it’s ridiculous that a Management Analyst I is the same pay grade as a Librarian I. In fact, since the job just got re-classed, now it’s one pay grade higher. This is ridiculous. As Youth Services Manager, I supervised two people, planned the library programs, managed the youth services collection, and provided reference services. All those things are far more responsibility than I had as a Management Analyst. What’s more, being a Librarian requires a Master’s degree, but being a Management Analyst does not.

However, we love the Librarian job so much, we’ll do it and be happy to do it, even though the pay is not what it should be. Same with the awful hours. (I’ll be working at least two nights a week until 9:00.)

The position I’m stepping into is not a Youth Services Manager, but just an Information Services Librarian. I also think it’s a mistake that Youth Services Manager for a Community Library is not a higher pay grade, but actually it will be nice to have a little bit less responsibility for awhile. I won’t have to do children’s programs, but I will get to serve customers of all ages at the Information desk.

Today I volunteered at my old library for a couple hours, and I was reminded again how much I love it. Library customers are mostly very very nice (and I didn’t get even one of the other kind today). I got to help some kids find books to read, showed a mom how our data bases worked so she could help her son do a science project on chewing gum, helped a man figure out how to translate from English to Farsi on the internet, and several other interesting things.

I have come to believe in Libraries. They do people good. With teaching, you are helping people who don’t necessarily want to be taught (at least the general ed classes). But at the library, you get to help people teach themselves, and they want the information. I am very proud to be a librarian.

So that started with NaFADOYBIMSCOM, and worked around to Libraries. It’s a big month for me — The divorce finally going to court. The 5-year anniversary of my husband telling me he wanted a divorce. Getting to spend Thanksgiving with my extended family for the first time in 20 years. Going back to the Library. And — maybe — finally finishing my book!

NaNoWriMo 2010

Today begins NaNoWriMo 2010 — National Novel Writing Month.

I’m actually not going to participate this year, but I did think it would be a good month to set a goal for my writing. I will record how many words I write on my novel and my blogs, but I didn’t want to focus on a new novel this year. The fact is, I am getting very very close to having my work-in-progress ready to send out to agents and/or editors. Now, the rewriting process is not one that causes a high word count, so I will probably not come close to 50,000 words.

However, here is my goal for the month of November:

Finish revising and rewriting my middle grade fantasy novel, The Mystical Mantle and have it ready to send out.

It would also be nice to get more than 36,000 words written this month on my book and my blogs and set a new monthly record. However, it might be difficult to do that, since my divorce case is this month, and if our lawyers can’t reach an agreement, I’ll need to spend most of my free time for a couple weeks compiling the papers for the court case. I’m also hoping to maybe visit my family in California over Thanksgiving.

So — it’s not a good month for getting a lot of writing done, but on the other hand, nothing would boost my spirits more than finally finishing my book. (And I think it’s already much better than anything I’ve sent out before — maybe it’s finally my turn to get published…)

Even if I don’t meet my goal of finishing, I hope to be mighty close, and that will make me happy.

Write on!