Nanowrimo update.

I’m not going to win, but I never win, so that’s all good.  Congrats to everyone who broke 50K, though (or 20K or 30K or whatever your November life goal wound up being).  Here is a pony.

I offer you this pony totally sincerely, because I am happy for your accomplishments.  Really, I am.  And I’m not even the slightest bit jealous.  Because:

I wrote 11K words across a range of projects.  Did some work on the memoir, drafted a few new stories (four…so, about the same pace I’ve kept since June: a story a week).  Threw everything written in November into a Frankenstein word file and it tells me I wrote 11,371 words total.  Neat!  James and I plan to write tonight, so that’ll go up a smidgen, but I’ll probably hang out right around 12K for November.  Not the 20K I wanted, but not abysmal either (for me…for most of you prolific people that number looks a travesty, I’m sure).

I also revised four stories and got them back out into submission.  Still haven’t received more than two rejections in a day, but it’s only a matter of time, I’m sure.  I hit fifty rejections this month, a number that pleases me because it’s proof I’m finally consistently submitting.  Soon I will have one hundred!

Things I have learned from this round of failing Nano (things I mostly already knew):

1)    I do not like complicated spreadsheets.  Is time spent filling in said spreadsheet supposed to induce rapturous joy or something?  I set aside my old wordcount tracker (like my old submission file, a simple Word document) and switched over to a shiny spreadsheet my friend had built, and it just didn’t work for me.  I found it frustrating, I didn’t want to open it (so many boxes!) so I just….didn’t.  I’m returning to a simpler, stupider spreadsheet so that I can rebuild my (dropped in November) habit of monitoring daily wordcount.  Ridiculous that Nano had the opposite effect on me and actually led to my NOT tracking progress.  Bah humbug I’m a Luddite rum tum tum.

2)    I still can’t get Googledocs to read my mind and do everything I want.  The joy of Nano is mild competition, but since apparently my two compatriots in Nano-ing couldn’t see my spreadsheet and I definitely couldn’t see theirs, the entire purpose of my Nano-ing had gone down the tubes by the end of week one.  I could’ve fought to come up with another tracking model for purposes of friendly competition, but by that point parents had arrived.

3)    Which is to say, November is a rough month generally, and this year especially.  End of semester grading.  Halloween party prep.  Parents in town for two weeks.

4)    But more than anything, my goals shifted.  I realized pretty quickly that my dissertation needs thinking time WAY more than it needs me vomiting up another 50K words.  The issue with my dissertation is not and has never been a lack of material.  It’s the opposite: wrangling said material.  My MA thesis (90 pages).  50K of journaling and blog entries from the year my boyfriend killed himself.  A box full of photos and memorabilia that was in dire need of sorting (now done).  Another 150 pages of notes and newspaper articles I’ve kept over the years.  A 50-page file of possible epigrams culled from hundreds of sources.  Hilariously, 25K-ish from previous memoir Nano attempts.  And on and on.  So I started a file called Structure and a file called Timeline, and I am GETTING MY CHAOS IN ORDER DAMMNIT.  The entire of Thanksgiving Break, when I wasn’t eating or cooking or grading or writing/revising short stories, I was slogging through this mass of aggregate data, attempting to find threads and whirlpools.  Deathly dull and not conducive to high wordcount, but also utterly necessary.

My Nano goal was small: 20K and the wind at my back.  What I wound up with: more like 5K on the memoir and 6K toward some new short stories.  But.  I roped me some wind, and that’s worth far more to me than 50K words.

Man am I going to be boring for the next six months, though.  I have so much work to do…


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