If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you know that I participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) every November. Every year since 2008 (14 years)! I wrote about it here in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
And holy fish nuggets, I’m wondering where the heck this year has gone, much less this month. Here we are (nearly) halfway through November. And I haven’t written one blog post about NaNoWriMo 2021!
As I’ve said before, I’m a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants. No planning, no outlining. This year, I started off with a sliver of an idea. An inkling really. An inkling that came from two sources. The first source is my favorite genre.
I read a lot. And I read across the spectrum of genres from poetry and non-fiction to epic fantasy and even some horror. But my favorite genre is fantasy. Specifically, paranormal urban fantasy.
(I define that as a book featuring characters like werewolves, shifters, vampires, fae, mages, etc. but set in a realistic, contemporary setting like Atlanta, Chicago, or the Tri-Cities, Washington as compared to fictional worlds such as Middle Earth, Whoville, or Asgard.)
Anyway, many of the fantasy/urban fantasy/paranormal books that have come my way lately all seem to feature a teenager or young adult (>25 years old) protagonist. I’m not opposed to a good YA (young adult) fantasy story but (1) I find that many are not all that well-written; (2) my tolerance for teenage angst and drama is limited; and (3) I get annoyed with the ever-present teen romance aspect (doubly so if it’s a love triangle). No offense to YA writers, but I’m over the teen drama and hijinx. I need to see more of my aged people in the main role. Not merely cast as the overbearing or missing or villainous mother/aunt/older female character.
My second source is my idea for a bookstore speakeasy.
I love a good speakeasy. There were two in Alexandria, Virginia where I used to live. One had no sign, just a pirate flag in the upstairs window. You had to make a reservation, know where the door and the doorbell were located, and then give your name at the door to be allowed entrance. The second one had a hidden slide door inside a donut shop. You had to know where the door was and knock to gain entrance. Both were really cool.
I also love the idea of owning a home with a hidden library. So I had this idea for a bookstore that had a bar in it so you could get your whiskey or favorite cocktail while perusing books (no overpriced lattes at my bookstore). And then I thought, hey, what if the bar was the obvious part of the building, and the bookstore was hidden behind a secret door? So you walk into a traditional Irish pub and then you have to say the code word or knock on the hidden door to get to the speakeasy part, but a speakeasy with books instead of booze. A bookstore speakeasy.
Brilliant, right? I’d totally go there. Pub, books, what more could you ask for?
So of course, my protagonist owns this bar/bookstore speakeasy, which is tentatively called The Hidden Sanctum. And oh yeah, she is also middle-aged, rides a motorcycle (because she can), has a fat orange cat named Cheesit, and generally doesn’t put up with much nonsense.
And did I mention the bar/bookstore caters to the paranormal community? Because of course werewolves, vampires, fae, and the like all want to read in a comfortable pub-like atmosphere with their beverage of choice too.
Does that sound like something you’d read? I certainly would. That’s why I’m writing it.
So today is day 14. Coming into today, I have 30,030 words!
Yep, I already hit 30K, well ahead of schedule. NaNo’s recommended daily goal to reach 50K by 30 November is 1,667 words per day. So on Day 13, you should be at 21,671 words to stay on track.
As you can see by the graph, I started out hitting or nearly hitting that 1,667 daily goal. But then I zoomed ahead! The story is almost writing itself.
I’m pretty psyched about my word count.
But. . .
Well, the downside to being a pantser is the story sometimes goes in unexpected directions. What I’ve realized is that (1) my story has taken a life of its own, (2) my story is somewhat disjointed and chaotic, and (3) I‘ve already made notes on how I want to edit it.
But I can’t edit it yet because that would take away from my word count (50K is the goal!) and editing would also defeat the purpose of NaNoWriMo. The main goal is to get the story on the page. Get words written, in whatever order, not caring for grammar or specific details or any of that fine-tune and polishing that goes into the editing process. This month is all about simply writing. And that’s what I’m focusing on. Writing, writing, writing.
Oh, that’s not to say I haven’t scribbled notes to research things to get certain details correct. I’ve jotted down how I want to edit the parts that went a bit off course. I’ve made comments on how I want to reorganize and restructure the chapters. But I have not actually worked on any of that. I am focused on getting the words on the page.
(Or in this case, words on the virtual page since I’m using Scrivener on my laptop.)
So I keep writing. I aim to get to 50,000 words by next Sunday. Fingers crossed I can meet that goal!
Although hitting 50K doesn’t mean the story has ended. 50K is just the NaNoWriMo goal based on the average word count of a typical paperback novel. We’ll see where my novel goes and how many words I have to type to get to the end of the story.
And maybe, maybe if you check back in like a week or a month or some unknown time in the future, I might, just might post a snippet of my 2021 NaNo story.