by: Seleste deLaney
I did my first NaNoWriMo in 2007 (aka--very pre-published). I started with a bang, finished with a whimper, then took the next 10+ months to finish the draft. NaNo 2008 (still pre-published) was more of a slow and steady thing. Finished, won, completed the draft in December (I did eventually sell this one as well, under my other pen-name). NaNo 2009 (still pre-published) was like chewing off body parts to finish. I loved the idea, hated the manuscript, but I won anyway. Shelved the manuscript for a few months, then completely re-wrote it and sold it in early 2010. (It was Badlands, for those who care about such things.)
I went into NaNo 2010 as a published author, but at the time I only had one short story (Of Course I Try) out. I had a couple other holidays shorts coming in December and Badlands in February, but I wasn't on deadlines and didn't have a ton of things going. (Badlands was done on my end, and the others were short enough that edits weren't killer.) This year, my NaNoNovel soared and finished up pretty quickly. Granted, I took a year to tweak it and sub it, but that's when Kiss of Death happened.
By NaNo 2011, I had a backlist, I'd won a couple little awards. I was starting to think I was a big deal. So I took that year to write a book that I loved but I knew might be unpublishable because of the plot. (I've let it sit for a year, but I do plan to go back to it and look again.) But once again, I wasn't on deadlines. Everything was easy.
Now, in 2012, I feel like I'm finally doing NaNo as a published author. The lead up to November involved releases in August and September. I have another holiday short coming out in December. And I had a submission due in the middle of November... that I didn't have drafted until the end of October. Uh... this is when the panic-heavy music should be cued. Because of all that, I barely had an outline for Kiss of Life when November 1 hit.
I do not advise doing NaNo this way (published or not)--especially when dealing with a sequel. However, I digress...
I wrote on Kiss of Life for the first week of November and really floundered. I mean hard-core, thought I was going to drown in the suckitude. Then the second week, I took the book I finished in October and spent a week revising it. Once it was subbed, I looked at Kiss of Life and actually groaned. I'd had such a hard time staying on target the first week, the I couldn't fathom how I was possibly going to catch up from missing a week.
It's weird how I have a bunch of contracts for books sitting in the filing cabinet next to me, but this makes me feel like a real author. The pressure, the deadlines, more than one of them... and busting ass to make sure they happen.
Am I certain this version of Kiss of Life is worth the time I put in? Nope. But that's what I have my awesome beta reader, Janelle, for. She's volunteered to look at the early draft and kick me if I'm way off-base. That means come December 1, I'm sending her what I have and taking a much-needed (and recently ordered) break. Said break doesn't mean I won't be writing, but I'm going to write something for me for a week or so while I wait on Janelle's feedback. Because that's the other thing this year's NaNoWriMo has taught me--that sometimes an author has to write what they want rather than what they should.
Because that, my friends, is what makes it fun and magical and keeps me coming back for more. It's time to re-discover the magic, if only for a little while.
Then it's back to work, because I have the best damn job in the whole world. <3