I’m all done!! And with two days to spare!!

Wow. I wrote a novel. A whole freakin novel. WHhhAaaa?? How is that even possible?

To be honest, I haven’t the slightest idea. I had no idea what was going on most of the time. The only thing that I did was that I kept consistent with writing every day.

You might say, “well that’s not good that you’ve basically been unconscious the whole time you’ve been writing this thing.” Someone quoted Anne Lamott to me a little while ago, saying that this was completely normal. I think she said something to the effect that, writing a novel was a bit like driving at night while it’s super foggy, and you can only see a few feet in front of you.

I think this is such a beautiful description of writing. The best thing that you can do when you’re writing is to focus on the moment that you are writing about, and write your little heart out. Things will become clearer once you continue writing, and you can always return to things that don’t make sense. Hence the mercy of editing.

I’d also like to share another bit of advice that I gleaned from the November/December issue of Writer’s Digest that I picked up before November began. The issue focuses a great deal on NaNoWriMo, and includes an article with a bit of writing inspiration for every day of the novel writing month. I want to highlight an article that Michael James Ploof wrote that’s listed for today and tomorrow’s advice. His insight into noveling is:

Entice your muse with whatever will make the process enjoyable. Think of yourself as a conduit for your story.

In February 2014 I finished the fourth book of my Amazon bestselling series Whill of Agora. I’d been tossing around another story idea and was eager to start the project.

I wanted to try to write the book in 30 days. My plan was 2,000 words a day minimum, and February was a great month to attempt such a feat, as it can reach -20 degrees here in northern New York. I outlined my ideas (most of which never made it in–my work tends to take on a life of its own and not conform to my plans) and made myself comfortable at the kitchen table with my laptop and Bob Marley playlist.

That first week I drank 21 coffees and wrote over 26,000 words, averaging 3,800 a day. The following week I wrote another 24,000 words, averaging 3,400 a day. By now the plot was getting thick, as were my character worksheet folders. I was writing 6-10 hours a day, getting up early so I could do most of my writing while my daughter was in school. (If I work too much while family is around I feel like I’m neglecting them, even though I write full-time.) When I started to lose steam, it would keep me going to log onto the Kindle author boards’ ‘2,000 words a day club’ to find (and offer) motivation.

I finished the book in 18 days at 70,000 words–not a heavyweight, but a good size for my genre. I self-published The Windwalker Archive, Book 1, Talon, on May 7, 2014. As I write this it is No. 4 in Amazon’s Children’s Coming of Age Fantasy Books Kindle store.

My advice: Lure your muse out with some chocolate and pinot noir, grab a hold of her, and tie her to your desk until you are done. Show up every day with your goal in mind and do not leave until you’ve surpassed it. Don’t try to create the story-listen, and let it be told through you. When you take the responsibility of creating the story out of the equation, it becomes quite easy. You are simply a conduit.”

Immediately after reading this, I looked up the definition of “conduit” on Google, and it reads, “a channel for conveying water or other fluid” (because ok, yes, for that moment, I completely forgot what that word meant. And yes, I did graduate as an English major and therefore I should know every word, but that’s besides the point. I’m going to come to the point now before I lose you guys).

If we let our writing flow through us like water, the story will come together. We shouldn’t try to take charge of the characters, but should simply let the story write itself. We are merely the typists.

And now if I may, I would like to make the briefest (briefest? Most brief??) analogy to loving others, as a fellow follower of Christ. If we are truly Christ-loving and consciously live in the spirit, then love too will flow like water through us to others. The concept is really that simple, even though it can be hard at times. Just like writing!

Anyway, I’m going to leave the briefest (again, briefest or most brief?? Who knows, who knows) analogy right there. And that’s not just because that’s the biggest point I can make (that’s some of the idea), but also because I am so tired, I just can no longer form a coherent thought (that’s the biggest reason). I was up late last night due to Black Friday shopping and some more unconscious writing, so yeah, there’s that.

Oh, and just to prove that I am officially a novelist, here’s a picture of my official certificate to show that I really officially did it! Officially!!

NaNoWriMo '14 Winner Certificate

Oh yeah, it’s real! It’s real weird, but it’s real!

So yeah! I still can’t believe I actually did it, and I’m in such a state of shock right now, I might just go and eat an apple with peanut butter. And then maybe I’ll also eat some leftover apple crumble. Who knows! The world is my oyster, and my, do I love pearls!

…ok, that was just plain weird. Aaaaand I’m out!


10 thoughts on “I’m all done!! And with two days to spare!!

  1. Kristi

    Congrats on your win! What you shared about writing is true. I never really thought of it that way. I have definitely learned over the years that I cannot force the story where I want it to go. Or maybe it’s that I shouldn’t, because it’s better if I don’t. Either way, the point still stands. Grats again!

    1. valebaile Post author

      Thank you so much!! And yeah, I had never thought about it before either. I definitely agree! Sometimes when I was writing, I would come up with some ideas of things I would do, but would never end up doing them! And I definitely feel too like the story is in a way, a living being that we have given life to. It does need a leash at first when we are writing it, but then we can go back and edit it like crazy afterwards. And something that Anne Lamott said, was something along the lines of letting your story romp around for a little, and then going back to check it later. So yeah, thanks again for reading and for your comment! What kind of writing do you like to do?

      1. Kristi

        I have had a very specific ending to this story planned for years. From when I tried to write this in 2009, before I edited the fictional world so much I had to completely rewrite it. But I knew the ending would be mostly the same, because it was spectacular and exciting and brilliant. But when I wrote the last few pages last night, it just…didn’t lead toward that ending. I tried to go back and edit it before it veered too far off, but it meant deleting an exchange between my main characters that I loved as soon as it flowed out of me. All of that basically just to say that I always know I have to allow for the story to go where it wants to, but I often have specific things in mind I want to include. Sometimes I even have to let those go. Those are the hardest.

        It’s kind of hard to say what kind of writing I like to do. Not to give a long, complicated answer, but I’m writing fantasy/speculative fiction because it’s what I have lots of ideas for and can’t seem to move on from. But it’s not a specific preference. Sometimes I think writing real-world fiction of some sort would be fun…but so far, I’ve done little more in that realm than a few Christian short stories.

      2. valebaile Post author

        Oh wow, yeah I can definitely relate to that! That can be really difficult! And that’s cool that you had been planning on doing this story for a while! I too wrote this story based off of a character that I created a while ago, and my story definitely went in a completely different way than what I had intended.

        And that’s so cool! Yeah, you’re interested in that genre for a reason, so definitely pursue that! And I’ve always thought it would be cool to try to write like C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien! Maybe some day, just maybe…

    1. valebaile Post author

      Thank you so much!! And congratulations to you too! AHHH I know, it’s so crazy, isn’t it??! I’m pretty sure I did a little happy dance too 🙂 … and then I already started looking it over… haha! And it almost feels surreal! Is this your first time making it to the winner’s circle too? And thank you for reading and for your comment!

      1. valebaile Post author

        Awesome! Congrats again!! It’s my first time making it the whole way too! And you definitely should! I think I’m going to wait a little to do that, but I think I will eventually!

      2. valebaile Post author

        Ah definitely! That sounds like a great plan! And haha yes!! The editing and hacking, should definitely be fun! Thanks, you too! 🙂

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