Best of Lists and NaNoWriMo

So the end of the year is approaching, and everybody’s coming out with their best of the year lists.

I have to admit that I hate that!  How can you say what were the best books of 2009 when 2009 isn’t over yet?  And of course that would be to admit defeat — to admit that I will not, in fact, finish reading all those great books that are piled at the foot of my bed clamoring to be read.

So, I make my Sonderbooks Standouts lists in the following year.  The years that I was really on top of things, I printed my list on January 1st.  But that was awhile back! 

For my list of the best books I read in 2006, I decided to copy the Newbery Medal and call the list the 2007 Sonderbooks Standouts, since I was making the list in 2007, and I didn’t want it to sound horribly out of date.  Besides, 2007 was practically over by the time I got that list made!  So my list of Standouts goes from 2001 to 2009, but it looks like 2006 is missing whereas really 2009 is missing — does that make any sense?

Anyway, NaNoWriMo is almost done, and I got just slightly slightly more caught up on books I’ve read and want to review.  At the start of the month, there were 35 books waiting to be reviewed, and this morning, there were 30, so I made a tiny bit of headway.  At this moment, there are 31, and I think by the time I go to sleep there may be 33, so it’s not actually great progress.

I did not get very close to the 50,000 word goal for the first draft of a novel.  However, I did experiment with the reckless, brash way of writing through a first draft.  I think I work better with more of a plan — The Weekend Novelist approach of writing key scenes first.  However, with the particular book I was working on this month, I had tried that approach and reached a dead end.  This was like a month of brainstorming that gave it new life.  I think I will spend the next two days printing out what I produced and write out a scenario of what I’ve got, and I think I can come up with a plan for writing that I can really get excited about.

I’m happy that I did NaNoWriMo.  It shook me up.  Reminded me that writing is fun, and that creative juices flow better if you spend more than 15 minutes at a time.

For 2009, I had a New Year’s resolution of writing for at least 15 minutes every single day, and I kept it almost perfectly.  Probably only missed about a week’s worth of days (actually more days this last month, when I had that nasty headache — but I was writing a lot more on the other days, so it was okay).  But I was getting in kind of a rut with that.  I was revising a book I finished a long time ago, and it was getting kind of mechanical, a bit of a drudgery.  I’m hoping I can get back to that book with a bit more excitement now.

So, here are my goals now:

I’ll still keep a word count for the last two days of November.  Let’s see.  For writing plus blogging, I’m up to 30,772.  Think I can write 10,000 words on each of the next two days?  Hmm.  I’m not so sure!  So that won’t be part of the goals.  Here are the goals:

1)  Write up a scenario for the novel I worked on for NaNoWriMo.  All the writing I did got a little incoherent, but some things were coming together.  I’m going to write it up so I can come back to it after December.

For December:

2)  Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!  I want to review all the books I read in 2009 so that I can make my Sonderbooks Standouts lists right at the start of January.  It would be nice to scoop the Newbery and the Printz!

3)  For December, I am going to experiment with a goal of writing on my book for 30 minutes a day, instead of the 15 minutes a day goal I had for 2009.  If it seems do-able, that will be my new goal for 2010.

4)  I want to finish rewriting my earlier book by the end of December!

And then start looking for an agent!  It’s time to SELL that book!  (The Mystical Mantle is a middle grade novel about a princess whose father offers her hand in marriage to the person who wins a quest to gain the Mystical Mantle of Meteorology from the Obstreperous Ogre.  She decides to win the quest herself so she doesn’t have to be a prize.)

I now have four books in different stages of completion.  Unicorn Wings, my first novel, is sitting in a drawer, chalked up to experience.  The Mystical Mantle is being rewritten.  A retelling of One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes is in first draft, and my NaNoWriMo novel is in early shaping stages.

But, see, NaNoWriMo got me to that place.  Before I was slowly, slowly revising The Mystical Mantle, so some day I was going to get back to Duet’s Story. (“One Eye, Two Eyes, Three Eyes” is an awfully long name.)  NaNoWriMo at least showed me the charm of working on one project for a specified period of time!

So, here goes!

And I’m also getting satisfaction out of reporting my progress in this blog.  I always did get a kick out of checking things off, and it has that sort of feel to it.  🙂

So, two days left in November.  I have both days off.  In those days my plan is to somehow consolidate what I’ve written on Dear Diary, my NaNoWriMo novel, so that I can come back to it after I’ve finished rewriting The Mystical Mantle.  I also hope to get as many reviews written as I can and try to get the to-be-reviewed number down to less than 30.

Oh, one other lovely thing about NaNoWriMo is that it transformed what was potentially an awful month into an actually good one!  This is my seventeenth straight day with a headache.  In my worst moments, I’d like them to just hook me up to an IV and make me sleep through them.  Now, mind you since Thanksgiving it’s mostly been a lot less severe.  But still.  This has given me something to be very interested in, something to remind me that life is very very much worth living.  Life is good!  That’s what writing does for me.  And NaNoWriMo reminded me of that.

1 comment

  1. Thanks for telling us about how many books you have in various stages, I’d been wanting to ask about that. And you’ve tried to sell Unicorn Wings before, right? I know it’s completely normal for authors not to be able to sell their first novel. I’m really hoping that won’t be the case for mine, The Miller’s Granddaughter, because I love it so much, but we’ll see. It’s in revision. It’s a Rumpelstiltskin continuation. And there is one other novel I started on first, it’s just that The Miller’s Granddaughter is the first I finished. So maybe that will help.

    Good luck with The Mystical Mantle!

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