Happy to be back! Yes, it’s been a month since I posted on the blog. Well, November was the NaNoWriMo month and I am particularly bad at multitasking. But the good news is that you have a NaNoWriMo Winner here. Yes, I completed the 50k count on the 26th of November but since there is still more to the story, I will continue with the first draft for few more days. At 53,000 plus at the time of writing this post, I hope to wind up the first draft in the next ten days with another 15,000 words approximately.
This was my first ever attempt at NaNoWriMo and also the first at a full-length manuscript. As a survivor, I decided to put down my experience of this month-long journey. But first, here is a little poem that I wrote on the day I decided to take the plunge.
- I discovered a writing group in the month of October- A writing group of four that I discovered in the month of October helped me prepare for NaNoWriMo. In retrospect, I can comfortably claim that had I not attended the preparatory sessions and had I not been motivated by the energy of this group, I may not have sailed through this phase with so much ease. Like-minded writing companions can make your seemingly lonely writing pursuit so much fun. (You can follow my peers Rashmi and Bhavna on Twitter at @Thrivingwordss and @wordseamstress). In the same breath, I would like to mention about the WRIMO INDIA group on Facebook, spearheaded by Sonia Rao, Shail Raghuvanshi and Prakash Hegde, which conducted regular writing sprints with prompts to motivate the writers.
- ‘ Be at your table every single day’- Yes, life happens and it is likely to nag you most when you don’t want it to. Besides regular stuff at work and at home, I had the launch of a much-awaited anthology (co-edited and compiled) by yours truly, at Shimla on 14 November. This entailed travelling plans from 12-15 November. Irrespective of that, I made sure to get my daily count of 1667 words on those days as well. (I grabbed a cup of coffee and stayed up late or made it early morning but told myself to be at my writing table every single day). The launch of the book was a mega event. It is a collection of short stories written by children, as part of a story-writing competition, organized by the Keekli Charitable Trust and is titled ’51 Scintillating Tales’.
- I used social media to propel myself- I have always believed that making yourself accountable puts the onus on you to work hard to achieve your goals. While some people like to work in silence, this time in particular, I made all my NaNoWriMo announcements on social media, and made good use of Twitter to update and talk about my progress. As a happy coincidence, a reporter from TOI noticed those tweets and I got to share some of my experience in an article she was doing. What did I gain from this? It spurred me on in my journey and I became more determined to reach my goal.
- ‘It is only the first draft’- In the middle of all the writing, I would sometimes feel that I wasn’t doing my best. At times the characters would start acting weird. Because it was my first attempt and I wasn’t sure of completing the word count, for the sake of convenience I had divided my draft into three parts, tracing the journey of the three characters separately. I had fixed a certain number of words for each one of them. But the second protagonist unexpectedly decided to change her course of action and took on a few extra thousands. Believe me, it was certainly beyond my control. But I can say that the strategy worked well for a first-timer. The point I am trying to make is that despite the urge to judge my own writing several times, I kept surging ahead simply by telling myself that ‘it is only the first draft’.
- Making a note of the plot holes and other aberrations- There was missing research, some plot holes and lots of places where I could fix a few things. But the mantra was to keep moving. I simply made a note of all the points, to look them up during the next draft. As James Thurber pointed it out, ‘Don’t get it right. Get it written.’
- Discovering unknown facets about my writing- The best part was discovering certain bits about my writing that were unknown even to me. Like I so enjoyed writing the romance sequences, a genre I hadn’t explored well even in my short stories!
- Is it over as yet? No, certainly not. This draft will be read and scanned, there will be parts that will have to be rewritten and a lot of it might just get chopped. There is much work left. I like to take it a day at a time. It will be an ongoing process for some time at least, maybe a few months, a year? Can’t say. All I can say is, I will not let go. I will go by what I was told by a friend recently, Trust the process.
Thank you to each one who cheered me on during the last one month. It has been a phenomenally enjoyable journey. I know one thing for sure, I love writing! How about editing? You would ask. Well, a few months down the line I’d like to talk about that too.
Today is also the IWSG Day. It is a wonderful resource group for writers that meets every once a month to share their doubts, their successes and offer encouragement to each other. I have enjoyed my time at IWSG and if you wish to meet some wonderful authors and writers you can join the group here.
I am skipping this month’s question but if you would like to answer, here it is for you!
In your writing, what stresses you the most? What delights you? Do let me know in the comments below.
If you would like to read stories by children, for children, do look up ’51 Scintillating Tales’ at Amazon!
Thank you for being here!