What NaNo taught me
I’m not nanoing this year but I hear from some new-to-Nanoers who are having trouble keeping up with the pace. My friends are going bald. So I thought I’d offer a bit of advice to help those who are stressing over Nano keep their lovely hair and sanity by talking about my first Nano experience and what I got out of it.
When I did nano for the first time, and only one to date, I chose to let the characters lead me, tell me who they were and what their story was. I didn’t plot before hand, didn’t try to think up a story or characters. Okay, being a complete pantser had a lot to do with that. These days I have transformed into a plotser- I plot a little, still write by the seat of my pants a lot.
On Nov 1, 2006 I sat and wrote whatever came to me, no matter what it turned out like. Every day I started as soon as my last daughter in school was gone for the day. A fresh, new story, not one I’d been thinking about beforehand. I got the surprise of my life when it turned out to be a paranormal—something I never had attempted or even imagined myself writing as a strictly contemporary writer. I rarely read anything different than what I wrote back then. Nora Robert’s Key Trilogy was the most paranormal-y thing I think I’d read in ages, in fact.
At the end of each day I would do one of two things. One, we aren’t supposed to do but I was just doing well not to edit during the writing process each day, so I went back and read my day’s progress, fleshed it out a bit to see what I had and who my characters were turning out to be… or two, I wrote on one of my current wips and put nano away until the next day.
That seemed to help me get through the month. I did finish my nano challenge out. I didn’t let it stress me. I had fun. It shouldn’t be a chore to do what we love. Write. We’re supposed to have fun and learn to turn off the internal editor and just write, nothing more. I accomplished that even if my word count came in under the wire by several thousand words. December is for fleshing out and edits. November I wrote. I don’t think there’s been one month since that I can say “I wrote every day this month.” I miss Nano. But it seems like each year when the contest rolls around I’ve either just begun a new story, and for nano you need one never started other than primary plotting, or I was in edits. This year? I’m trying to finish a story for a specific project with my publisher. Last year? I had a request from Harlequin-Mills & Boon for a full manuscript (ms) that wasn’t written to completion and only had two months to write it, to be complete by the end of November.
So what happened to that single Nano ms from 2006? Check out the excerpt below and tell me what you think.
Setup: Working title- In the Mist of the Mind; Dray Corbeau’s subconscious keeps calling out for help and Chelcie Miles has picked up on his distress. After two conflicting meetings in the minds she is determined to discover who he is and what he wants from her. Chelcie has decided to risk contacting Dray by telepathy, after her aunt/guardian, a powerful mind manipulator, has warned her not to.
“Are you there?” Chelcie spoke aloud to break the silence then waited to the count of ten. She hadn’t had a lot of practice calling, though it was a basic gift for some, and wasn’t sure if she was doing it right.
When she heard nothing in response she closed her eyes, not giving up. Face raised to the sky, hands lifted high with palms upward, she exhaled slowly, calling on the Spirit element to guide her mind. With a swift breath she sucked the cool, wet spring air deep into her lungs, and let the moment draw her in as she waved her fingers before gradually curling her hands into loose fists. Her very being was drawn into mind as she focused. In an instant she felt her mind drift from her body.
“I need to speak to you.” With breath held, she waited, but only briefly this time.
“What do you want, Ma Petit?” The French words came across soft and slightly hesitant, as though he was holding back in preparation for retreat.
She let her breath go slowly and opened her eyes, but she didn’t see the garden around her. Her gaze focused within a warm mist. “You mistrust me.” After he’d invaded her sleep and did such sinful things to her, he didn’t trust her. What a farce!
Fallyn would be furious beyond compare if she knew Chelcie had not been swayed from contacting the stranger. The pain of being caught still rested on the verge of her conscious mind. And yet, did that excruciating experience stop her from allowing him back inside? Not at all. And how else could he invade her sleep unless she had allowed it?
Not only had she allowed him inside, she had welcomed his caresses. Worst of all was letting him seduce her and get information in doing so. It was as though he’d silenced her until she couldn’t speak so she had to use her gift to communicate…
Had that been his intention all along? Had she been drawn to him by trickery?
It was possible he didn’t know her enough to get what he needed, but Chelcie had volunteered a small tidbit of herself, therefore opening the door for him to enter, and to take freely whatever he desired.
“With good reason,” his voice broke in to suggest. “You very nearly crippled me the last time we spoke. It left me no alternative but to slip in unawares. Much the way you tried to do to me, don’t you agree?” So the yanking had been as painful for him as it had for her.
And, he had a point, but she was loath to admit it to him as she set the blocks in place. He would not get more than she was willing to offer. In sleep, or awake.
“It was a rotten thing you did. I was sleeping unprotected.”
“I wouldn’t harm you, Little One. Not without a very good reason. You were completely safe with me,” he promised. “But, you already know that, Ma Petit Familiar,” he added in soft allure.
“Why do you call me little one when you know my name?” The version of the pet name he used suggested intimate familiarity between them. It brought back vivid memories of the dream he’d created for her. Almost pleasant memories. She shook that thought from her head.
“You said you need me.” He failed to answer her question.
“I said I needed to speak to you.” She corrected with a secret pleasure that he was playing with her, being as seductive as a lover. A lover whose name she did not know, and was hesitant to ask should it open her up to him more.
“So, we will meet,” he said with confidence that worried and excited her. The continuing softness of his voice teased her senses and she knew an instant of panic. He could destroy her with his mind alone.
“Yes,” she breathed.
I wrote two characters I still adore and that was important to me. This is the very first time anyone will taste a sample of that NaNoWriMo project. It’s my hidden ‘baby.’ So what do you think of it?
And should it be delegated to a box under the bed/in the closet/lost file? Or should I finish and submit? I really do want to know what you think.