Well, I've done it folks. I won NaNoWriMo! This morning I copy + pasted all ten of my short stories (including a flash fiction I threw in for fun) into the NaNo website and verified my 50,941 words written in November.
NaNoWriMo is not for everyone. It's exhausting. I can feel the tired in my bones y'all. I have read barely anything this month because I've spent all my mornings writing. I wrote during World Fantasy Con, which was an adventure, I wrote while sad and unmotivated, I wrote with exhilaration today as I pushed myself past the finish line.
I don't know if I will do NaNoWriMo again next year, but I have gotten a lot out of doing short stories instead of novels. There's something really fun in knowing that you only have to live with that story in your head for three days and then you get to let it go, even if it's unfinished or imperfect.
Here's a last excerpt from my dino story, just for you:
I hike myself up onto Darla’s back and kick her into a run. My eyes are burning with dust, my heart is a stone jostling in my chest. Faster, faster. We break the second field, planted with new corn. There’s the gate. In the distance I can see the uncultivated lands of what was once the border. Dissected plains, dark, loamy soil. I swear, urging Darla on. I try not to hear the sounds behind me, creaking wood, the roars and battle screams of dinosaurs on a rampage. I keep on, keep pushing Darla on. My flock needs me. I’ll have to find a way for us to survive until the dinosaurs are past. We’ll need food, grass is a rare commodity. We’ll rebuild. That’s what we do, humans. We survive. We’ll come back and put up more walls, I’ll breed stronger dinos.
And then I’ll go after Ambrose and put a bullet in his head myself.
It's the next-to-last day of NaNoWriMo and this is the first year I've come this close to finishing on time. I'm looking forward to celebrating tomorrow after I pass the finish line.
Today I wrote 2,579 words on my last story, DINO APOCALYPSE. (That just sounds cool doesn't it.) It's pretty fun trying out different ideas in this way. I'm forcing myself to finish each draft, even if I'm not necessarily happy with the outcome. But since I move on to the next story so quickly, it's a great feeling because I don't have to look back yet.
Ready for Revision December yet? <_>
Here's an excerpt from today's writing:
Ambrose snakes a freckled arm around my shoulders and I let him, just for the warmth of him, and also because it’s been a long time since I felt someone warm against me. We stand like that for a moment, watching the darkness and the stars coming out one by one. Are there more dinosaurs up there in the stars, waiting to come back to earth? I’d rather not think about it right now. I just want to think about Ambrose’s warm skin, his lips grazing my neck, the heavy feeling of sleep coming on my body.
I interrupt your regularly scheduled NaNoWriMo updates to bring you this interview I did with The Daily Author podcast over at Wooden Pants Network. I had a good time chatting about writing outside the box during NaNoWriMo and my writing process.
We know NaNoWriMo as a month for novel writers, but I'm here to say that you can break the rules and write anything in November, as long as you're meeting word count goals.
It's day 28 of NaNoWriMo! My word count for today was 2104. I'm trying to boost my word count in these last few days so I can make my goal. I'm about 5k away, but I think that's doable!
I've been enjoying NaNoWriMo a lot more this year since I've been writing short stories. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever have the gumption to finish a complete novel. Working at a fast pace like this has it's limits but in the end it's been terribly enjoyable.
Here's an excerpt of Story #10:
I’m not concerned with all that though. The past is in the past. Right now I’m concerned with a hot cup of chicory and washing the green blood of a just-hatched Riojasaurus off my hands. I leave the baby to her mother and walk back up to the house. The girl, Carmen, is sitting in the little storefront I concocted by building out the porch, thrumming her fingers.
“Girl, stop that thrumming,” I snap. I can’t stand idle hands, not in this time we’re living in. Going to the little sink and little camp stove, I bring a pot to boil and drop two chicory roots in. They look a bit like the wilted teeth of a dino. I’ve got lizard on the brain.
Day 21 of NaNoWriMo and I'm on Story #7 with 1624 words today. I need to play catchup this week but I keep hitting a wall. However, I will persevere!
Day 20 of NaNoWriMo and I've broken 30k! Woohoo! I'm on Story #7 now, which is about personality transplants. It's a nice change to work on a solidly SF story for a while after my rather difficult historical fiction short story.
1925 words today!
He blinks, looks down at the wood. “I don’t know,” he murmurs, and brushes the soft strands away from the knife edge. “If you hadn’t come in I don’t know if I’d even have known what I was doing. I came in here because I needed to get out of the house—to smell the air. And the wood was just sitting there and I got the idea then that there was something in the wood—an animal. So I decided to cut it out.” He smooths the knife over the wood and I can see the beginnings of a snout there.
Day 19 of NaNoWriMo and I've written 1189 words on Story #6. I'm technically supposed to be working on Story #7 but I am behind because this is another historical story with a lot of research to be done. Spent most of the day studying the letters and journals of Virginia Woolf in an attempt to get caught up.
Here's an excerpt:
Inside that strange reflection there was something else with her—the ghost of herself. Ghost Virginia moved behind her, smiling with a comfortable ease. Ghost Virginia is beastlike, furry-faced, with great wings. The real girl went from room to room, finding Ghost Virginia in the windows, in the glass, in the pools of water from a fresh rain in the morning. Ghost Virginia would not have let herself be caught in bed in the morning. Ghost Virginia would not have let herself be lifted onto the slab outside the dining room door. Ghost Virginia would have slapped away his wriggling fingers, like snakes under her ghostly shroud, she would have bit off their heads.
I'm a bit behind on this, but I wanted to shout out to two reviewers who reviewed my story "The Joy of Baking," which appeared in Luna Station Quarterly. It's so lovely to read responses to my work!
The first is from Sara L. Uckelman at SFF Reviews:
Whether purgatory is a waiting place before the ultimate destination, or simply a waiting place before moving on to the next life, a place one will come back to again and again, there is something comforting in thinking that perhaps it is a place where the waiting souls are fed and loved and comforted, where they may rest as long as they need, and where the caretakers have all the time in the world to perfect their baking skills...
Read the whole review
This story also received a review from Lady Business:
A jaundiced alcoholic begins the healing process. Cake is the universal healer; both a physical comfort and a metaphor for the careful act of rebuilding a soul. It's a real feel good story, and a light, lovely joy to read...
Read the whole review
Day 18 of NaNoWriMo. I'm working on Story #6, which is a historical fiction about Virginia Woolf. Only 733 words so far today. I'm not sure if I'll be able to come back and add more, but I did some good research too so that's fine.
Here's a snippet for you:
We are seeking a barrel grinder. Not the ornate, decorated kind. That would not do. For our love we require a squinty-eyed man with a skinny girl doing the work of drawing in a crowd, the man’s long fingers wrapping around the handle and cranking away, the girl with a too-bright smile and her hands flung open to the sky. We require the music of London—street criers and a man selling vegetables and another hawking sandwiches.
I took a brief break from updating for a week or so to clear my head, but I'm going to try to get my posts updated, if only for my own sake :) Today I managed 2,476 words.
Here's an excerpt:
I don’t say that Zara suffered from migraines and hyper-stimulation syndrome. She gained forty pounds in mere weeks. She lost hair, chunks of her glorious hair clogging up the drain and I’d clean it out, on my hands and knees next to the shower, convincing myself this is what I wanted in life. She was constantly thirsty, I’d bring her tap water with no ice, because anything made her feel full, and she’d vomit it up, just pure water and stomach acid. Zara’s skin went hard and dry, and once she cracked a joke about how now she was turning to rock. That’s when I knew it was time to give up trying.
Holly Lyn Walrath is a freelance editor and author of poetry, flash fiction, and short fiction. Find her on Twitter @HollyLynWalrath
I run a monthly e-newsletter with writing prompts, editing tips, writing music, and more. Click below to sign up!