Its December 1. Pens down. Time's up. Advent calendar has been opened. NaNoWriMo is over for another year ...
So how was it for you? For me ... well, it was a success inasmuch that I finished (and finished several days before the deadline). To put that in perspective, this is the fourth year that I've partaken in NaNo and only the 2nd time I've won, thus raising my success rate from 33% to 50%.
What did I do differently this year? Well ... my first year (2009) was all very exciting and new and fresh challenge and all that jazz. I had several days without internet access which really, really helped (yes, I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to denying myself things - which is why I cannot diet). I wanted to prove to myself that I could really write. So, I won. Comfortably. With a story based off a short story I'd already written (and incorporated into the novel).
Year Two - no dice. Official word count shockingly poor. It was to be a continuation of something I'd already started (erotic retro space opera). Zero inspiration. Zero motivation.
Year Three - 11,113 words. Most of those pre-existing. This was an attempt to turn two existing ideas into two shorter novellas of c.25,000 words each (one was the leftover from the previous year, and the other was an expansion of the Mara stories that I have here on dA). A repeat of the previous year. Nothing. Nada.
So then summer 2012 rolled around and the idea of doing NaNo again was mooted by a friend. Was I enthusiastic? Meh. Did I have a good reason not to do it? Not really, only the experience of the previous two years to either drag me down or stumble over. Fast forward a few months and I decided to throttle the shit out of NaNo by doing a collection of erotic short stories, 26 in all, with each character taking its name from a letter of the alphabet (ergo the fairly uninspired title Gay-to-Zed). I had no reason to have to finish each story, or even write them in order, only make sure that the word count was there.
Just over half way through the month (maybe week 3) I became utterly disheartened with the word "cock" and had become totally de-sexed. This had never happened to me before. Ever. I wrote about 3,000 words in a 6 day period, and there was more than one day where I wrote zero words ...
But ... I finished. Yep, there's dross there. No, not all of it is sexy. In fact, that's probably my biggest self-criticism about the stories - too much back story. Take the story that I wrote for X. Its (unfinished) length is a bit shy of 2,000 words. The first 417 words is a guy reminiscing and making his way to the beach. No mention of anything in any way romantic, let alone erotic. Its at least another 1,200 words before anything other than a small amount of beachfront ogling takes place, and then its only a small comment.
Then there are the stories that take ... unexpected twists. Take the story I wrote for K. The titular character is a cock-hound after some action. Simple as that. Meets a young guy in a club. Back to the hotel. Oh baby, yeah. Then ... twist ... Little Boy Lost comes out with a comment that completely floors me, let alone the guy he's with:
"Throughout it all Keelan and Rod's eyes were locked together. Something was happening and Keelan had no idea what it was."
That's a story that deserves to be more than just a fuck in a hotel room.
I think I've lost the thread of what I was saying and the point I was trying to make ... Yes, there were swings and roundabouts with the stories. Some are barely more than 500 words and those I wrote with my teeth gritted. A forced sex scene? Awful. (Oh, I mean forcing yourself to write a scene about sex, not writing a scene about forced sex.) There's always swings and roundabouts with any writing, but in a one-story novel it can be spread about.
Yes, I won. Yes, I wrote over 50,000 words. Am I suffused with the inner glow of pride and accomplishment? Meh. Not so much. Am I castigating myself over not writing something truly literary and delightful? Meh. Not so much.
Will I be doing it again next year?