Home > Life, Writing > On NaNoWriMo 2013: a confession

On NaNoWriMo 2013: a confession

I first tried “winning” NaNoWriMo back in 2010. Much to my surprise, I “won” with just over 50K words. Since then, that original manuscript has doubled in size and become what I think is a pretty darn good story. It has a few plot holes and characterization issues that I’ve been beating my head against the wall trying to correct, but other than that, I’m proud of the effort.

In 2011, for no good reason other than perhaps I was simply uninspired, I started writing and crashed and burned within a week. In 2012, I once again threw caution to the wind and leaped headlong into the frenzy known as NaNoWriMo. With a good idea and a little bit of inspiration, I was typing away like mad and looking forward to another “win”. But then the phone call came on Sunday evening, November 25th. I rushed to the airport and boarded a plane to meet up with my family in Arkansas. My father was dying. NaNoWriMo came and went and I didn’t care.

And here it is, nearly a year later, and NaNoWriMo is here once again. For a few months prior to November, I was convinced I would attempt NaNoWriMo yet again. But as the winds grew cold and the skies turned gray, and as the days on the calendar inexorably found themselves inching toward the first of November, I found myself losing interest in something as mundane as a writing challenge. And now, NaNoWriMo has begun and I am nowhere to be found.

So this year, as I find myself facing the first anniversary of my father’s passing, I sit on the sidelines and watch so many of my blogging friends enjoying the frenetic pace of generating 50K words this month (all of course except for Eric who was willing to confess his disdain for the month of writing like a madman). I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I find myself missing the excitement of the challenge, of sitting in my office each night, pounding away on the keyboard until I hit the minimum word count, knowing that there are many thousands of other fellow writers around the world doing the very same thing. On the other hand, I’ve found that life so far this month has been more relaxed as the holidays approach, and, perhaps more importantly, I’ve felt at peace as I head, for the first time, toward the anniversary of the worst day of my life.

What will next November bring? I don’t know for sure … time will tell. But for now, I wish all my blog friends out there who are participating in NaNoWriMo the best of luck. Have a blast, drink plenty of coffee, and hit that 50K goal and “win”. I’m rooting for all of you.


  1. November 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm

    Dave, sorry to hear about your father. I haven’t gone back that far in your posts yet so I had no idea. It makes total sense that you’d be a little less enthused about this month than some others.

    I am doing NaNo this year, but it’s off to a very slow start. I’m exhausted from last month’s writing/publishing endeavors and just can’t bring myself to sit and write yet. I’m taking off from work most of next week so I’ll be able to get some solid work done. I’m not too concerned about winning this year though. I won last year for the first time and it felt great and I won the two camps this year so I’m not putting any pressure on myself to produce since I’ve proven three times I have the bonafides to do this. Plus, the winner’s goodies mostly don’t appeal to me. I need to rest so as not to get sick and I’ll officially begin Friday night after a nice nap (and Dracula). I just don’t feel the same enthusiasm for NaNo this year either so I get where you’re coming from.

    • November 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Thanks, Elle. Yes, it has put a damper on the month for me. I think taking it easy this month, and concentrating on some of my regular writing, is the ticket. Congrats on winning three times in a row. I know that takes a lot of work. Best of luck to you once you get into it Friday night. Sounds like you won’t have any problem winning again πŸ™‚

      BTW – hoping to start Dark Tales Volume One tonight. Looking forward to it.

      • November 7, 2013 at 6:51 pm

        Thanks for the congrats, Dave! I may not reach 50k words this month, but being 3-2 isn’t that bad (I lost back in 2010).

        Yes, relax and just focus on writing at your own pace. You don’t need one month out of the year to be productive after all. What are you planning to work on next? I’m writing one novella and one novella-length short story collection this month…yeah, writing two books – maybe not my brightest idea? Lol. Hope you enjoy Dark Tales. πŸ™‚

  2. November 6, 2013 at 9:26 pm

    A nice post! I feel for you at this bittersweet time, and I hope the anniversary of your father’s passing can be filled with the wonderful memories you have to help carry you through. It happened to me a long time ago–my dad never making it to his 50th birthday–and though time does, in fact, kind of help the healing, it never, ever completely does so. I simply remember all of the golden moments my dad and I shared in the brief time he was here, and I count my blessings that I am what I am largely because of him. Hang in there!

    As for NaNoWriMo, last year was my first, and I did, in fact, hit the 50,000 word target and that effort turned into the book I’ve been working on all summer and will plan to publish very soon. If nothing else, winning enabled me to get Scrivener at half-price, leading to taking Gwen Hernandez’s class, coming in contact with writers with similar interests, and becoming completely head-over-heels bonkers about the program!

    I’m off to a good start on this year’s challenge, but things will get a bit sticky as writing time will become constrained later in the month with Thanksgiving and a few other things I’m involved with. That’s why I’m trying to stock up as many words as I can now. The fact that I’m retired and have the luxury of being home, I have no excuses not to successfully hit the 50,000 words. To say the least, it’s fun–especially being a pantser in the first degree! I’m never really sure where my story will go when I start in the morning. Let the journey continue! All the best…Mark

    • November 7, 2013 at 5:44 pm

      Thanks, Mark. I appreciate your kind words. Can’t believe you lost your father so early. I can’t imagine that. I certainly do feel blessed to have had him around for so many years. These days memories are mostly good. This month did take a bit of a downturn.

      Congrats on your first year of NaNoWriMo. And on top of winning you’re turning it into an actual book to be published. Better than I’ve done with my first one so far πŸ™‚ I love Scrivener and can’t imaging writing without. Love Gwen Hernandez … been following her for a while. I, too, took her Scrivener class. I was even lucky enough to win an autographed copy of her Scrivener for Dummies book!

      Nice to know there’s another true pantser around. I love writing and allowing the story to take over, where you literally don’t know what’s going to happen next. I’ve painted myself into a corner a time or two, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

      Best of luck in NaNoWriMo, Mark!

  3. November 6, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    I don’t do Nano either. Thought of it. That was enough. LOL Once wrote 110 page novella in a weekend. Was fun. But terrible, really terrible. Got a certificate of merit but I still don’t know why. LOL Glad you are taking care of you. πŸ™‚

    • November 7, 2013 at 5:48 pm

      Yeah, NaNoWriMo doesn’t always promote the best of work, but it sure does push you to get some words on the page. Considering I’m a pantser, that’s not such a bad thing πŸ™‚

      Thanks for stopping by, Aurora.

  4. November 7, 2013 at 5:19 am

    Nothing wrong with relaxing before the holiday rush. I actually think November is a terrible month for NaNoWriMo; I lost in 2012 because I was busy making Christmas presents. Maybe you’d like to do a Camp NaNo session some time. They’re in the summer, and you set your own word count. You could be in my cabin! YAY!

    2010 was my first year, too. I feel like we should high-five over that, though I have no idea why.

    Anniversaries of loss are never easy. My thoughts are with you, and my prayers if you want them.

  5. November 7, 2013 at 5:39 am

    I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your father, Dave. Fortunately, I’m not a member of that club at this point in my life, but I can imagine how difficult and painful this past year has been. I have no doubt your father was proud of the man you’ve become. Hopefully you’ll find peace as time goes on.

    Funny you mentioned Eric…he’s been MIA so far this month. πŸ™‚ He must be in complete seclusion. He’s funny about NaNo. I guess he’ll come out of his cave on December 1st.

    I’ve always been a fan of NaNo. Like you, my first attempt and success was in 2010. But unlike you, that project has been sitting unfinished since early 2011. This year rather than participating, I’ve decided to focus on last year’s NaNo project. My goal is to be able to say, “it is a pretty darn good story.”

  6. November 7, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Hi Dave-
    your words just resonate right off this “page.” I feel for you- I understand the sorrow, and yet you’ve been able to give encouragement and support. You are a gifted writer – this post says it all. I wish you all the best as you face “d” day and please know, I’ll be thinking about you.

  7. November 7, 2013 at 7:33 am

    To be honest, Dave, I’m getting really annoyed with all the NaNo hype. Since this is my first year, I can kind of say that. But I’ve found that it’s not as big a deal for me personally (I realize some people have lives and commitments far greater than mine) because I already held myself to the standard of 2,000+ wpd on my own.

    Anyway, this will probably be my last NaNo. It’ll be fun to finish and say I did it, but besides that, I”ll probably turn into your friend Eric πŸ™‚

  8. November 7, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Sorry to hear about your father. I don’t blame you for not getting back in the groove yet. I’m not doing NaNo either since I actually just sent my manuscript off to an agent. So while everyone else is typing away, I’m taking a little break and trying to get some other neglected things done.

  9. November 13, 2013 at 1:07 am

    Dave, I see that you haven’t been around in a few days and I just came to check on you. I know how these milestones can knock you sideways. You have always been so kind and thoughtful to me and I wanted you to know that I am thinking of you and hope the dark clouds lift soon.
    Warm hugs, Patti

    • November 13, 2013 at 7:09 pm

      It’s so nice to be missed, Patti. Thank you for coming by and checking up on me. Yeah, as you can see, the months of October and November have been a bit down for me, but that’s to be expected I suppose. But of course you know all about that sort of stuff. You’ve expressed yourself so beautifully in your blog about your walk in life since you lost your dear husband, Paul. I hope that one day I can write about my father in a way that approaches how you’ve captured your thoughts and feelings.

      • November 13, 2013 at 9:14 pm

        Thank you, Dave and I do know how these milestones grab us. That’s why I wanted to make sure you are okay. I know your Debbie will make sure, give her a hug from me.
        When I retreat from the internet, I still journal and it helps me…

      • November 13, 2013 at 9:15 pm

        …and Dave, you already write beautifully about your dad!

      • November 14, 2013 at 8:09 pm

        You’re too kind. Thank you so much, Patti.

      • November 14, 2013 at 8:16 pm

        Dave, I just found a site that I think you will love. It has many great articles, podcasts and videos on life, death, grieving, faith and humanity. I’ve not even ventured off the front page and I have found some healing moments and awesome truths. It is called On Being. Hope you enjoy.

      • November 15, 2013 at 12:44 am

        Wow. It looks like a wonderful site. Looking forward to reading through it. Thanks so much for passing it along to me.

      • November 15, 2013 at 3:06 am

        You are very welcome.

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