Thanks for checking back with us about our progress on National Novel Writing Month. All November, we’ve been plugging away at our novels (all the while wondering why NaNoWriMo couldn’t take place in another month, when we don’t have holidays and travel and hosting…). But we made it through!
Curious to know how we did? Keep reading… and expect at least monthly updates on our novels from here on out—maybe we’ll even throw in an excerpt here and there!
How many words did you finish the month with?
So what’s your book about?
Annie and David’s marriage is falling apart. After years of parenting young children and chasing professional goals, they’ve grown distant, even unfamiliar. When David’s colleague Veronica makes advances, he strays, creating a rift in his marriage that may be irreparable. Annie is wild with jealousy and overcome by feelings of betrayal. While she struggles with whether to mend her marriage or end it, Annie learns she has only weeks to live.
From the other side, Annie observes her family navigate their grief as she searches for ways to communicate. David and the children come dangerously close to the abyss of depression, and worse, before Veronica reappears to comfort David. As this younger, shinier woman takes hold of David, he grows dependent and introduces Veronica to the kids. Annie is compelled to intervene by punishing David, sabotaging Veronica, and appealing to the children’s memory of their mother. But the family takes comfort in the faint glimpses of normalcy Veronica provides—a welcome distraction or maybe something more.
Annie must decide whether to channel her energy into holding off Veronica or acknowledge that her family is moving on without her.
Fifteen years ago, Juliana ran away from the only life she ever knew in order to protect the life growing inside her.
Now, she lives a life as a suburban mom with three kids. Although Juliana longs for adventure, she knows that this quiet existence is necessary to protect her family.
But when she’s unexpectedly called back to her old life, familiar but unexpected feelings tease her into wanting to leave her suburban bubble and go back to the life she grew up with, even though it may endanger her and the family she escaped to protect.
Juliana must choose between the life she escaped and the life she pursued. Which one represents who she truly is? This is a book about identity, about who we really are, and grapples with the question; can we ever really escape our past?
What was your writing routine, if you had one?
Evie: Three mornings a week, both my girls are in school, so I pressed pause on all the usual BS I’d do during those hours and hunkered down at a Starbucks near my daughter’s school with my laptop. Holiday flavored lattes and oatmeal were my friend :)
The problem with this situation is that I’d get super distracted by all the comings and goings at Starbucks. On the other hand, being at home offers its own set of distractions, right? So I’d listen to some kind of white noise, usually the sound of a camp fire, or music to put me in the right mood.
My book’s got some scenes that are a little heavy, so I sometimes found myself listening to music that made me feel depressed, but I was also kind of there this month. November was a tough month for me, emotionally, with the election in particular, so I was in the right frame of mind to get kind of dark with my writing. It was a good creative outlet.
Sarah: I have to write when I have nothing to distract me. I can’t just write for an hour during nap time, because when the baby wakes up, I have to stop…and I might be mid thought or mid scene. So I waited until late, late at night before I began. Most nights, it was about 9:30 when I got started. The thing about me and writing is that I have to have my mind clear of everything to work in a fictional world, so I have to wait until everything else is done.
What was the easiest thing about writing your novel?
Evie: I was worried I might have a hard time writing in long form since most of what I write is no more than 2,000 words. But I actually really enjoyed the challenge.
This was a story I had been mulling over for the last six months, so outlining was easy. I also really enjoyed coming up with some character profiles, especially finding images to represent my characters since I’m so visual.
Meet my protagonist and my antagonist:
Sarah: I have written a few novels before, (that weren’t published) and a non-fiction book that was, so I know I have the stamina to get to the word count. However, I really challenged myself to step outside my comfort zone with my plot, my characters and the events this time, and that was a big challenge!
What was the biggest challenge about reaching the 1,666 words per day goal?
Evie: The biggest challenge was letting go of all the other things I had to cut from my life: sleep, time with friends and family, yoga… I spent every spare moment writing! There was one day in particular toward the very end of the month when my husband was taking the kids to see Moana, and I reeeeeally wanted to go, but I knew I needed to stay home and write.
I decided to go anyway, since this was an arbitrary deadline I’d set for myself. Was I really going to miss out on a fun family memory just so I could check the box of having 50,000 words in 30 days? No, but it told me a lot about my priorities that I considered staying behind. I can be really intrinsically motivated, especially when it comes to personal goals, and writing is important to me.
Sarah: I had some major family events happen this month, (nothing bad, just things that required attention!) and then my daughter got sick (up all night during prime writing time) and then we had Thanksgiving. Basically, life happened, but the things that happened were not things I could ignore. My goal was to reach 25,000 words, the half way mark, and I came close. I am not as concerned about reaching the 50,000 word mark, because now that I’m about 1/3 of the way through I feel very motivated to tell the rest of Jaya’s story. Additionally, I have to do some serious research to make this book authentic, and that takes time.
Will you keep working on this novel?
Evie: Definitely! I’d say I’m about 2/3rds of the way through a first draft. I know I’ve got a lot of little holes to fill in here and there, but I’m excited about the progress I’ve made and I’d like to see this through. Even if this never gets published (which I realize it probably won’t…), it’s still powerful to know you’ve written a novel.
Sarah: Absolutely! I have missed writing in fictional worlds…I used to do it all the time. It felt so great to get some of those writing chops back that I haven’t exercised in years.
What are you taking away from NaNoWriMo?
Evie: This was a real exercise in perseverance. Most days I enjoyed working on the novel, but toward the end of the month— November 30th in particular—I was soooo ready to be done. It felt impossible to get the last thousands words out!
Sarah: I remembered how much I really love writing fiction, and how much I really want to continue working like this.
Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming :)