November 6, 2009


I am having a hard time finding the will to DRAFT. This is reasonable, because I HATE drafting. You don’t see me springing out of bed all eager to clean out my garage, either. One day in late October, I started working out, and I said to myself, SELF, I said, The front part of the book is in pretty good shape. It is TIME. Today! I draft. In a little. First I will finish my work out. BUT...I shall DRAFT as SOON as I am done.

I worked out for two and a half solid hours.

I would think, “Go draft, or 40 more push-ups?” Then I would choose the push-ups. I finally did go work on the book and drafted a thousand words, but the NEXT day I was SO sore I just decided I couldn’t possibly lift my arms to draft. You see how I am?

It’s not like I have stopped WORKING. I open my novel file, virtuously, and several hours later I find I am still tinkering around in, say, the back half of chapter two, trying to get the voice perfect, and not forging ahead. Noodling. Unraveling and re-raveling are MUCH more fun than the part where you have to do the initial RAVEL. This is the part I LIKE....Oh how I LIKE to revise. I like to revise so much it is probably unholy.

SO, I thought I would sign up for NaNoWriMo. The idea is, you write a 50K novel in a month. You are not supposed to start until November one...oops. That said, if I GET 50K I am claiming winnerness and marching about triumphantly lofting pompons and hooting.

I signed up under a secret name because, er, I am CHEATING. I am a big old stinkly cheater who cheats. By cheat, I mean I already have the front chapters written. NaNo has rules, and you can go read them and they will tell you that beginning your NaNo book before November is cheating.

I think it is fine to cheat as long as I man up that I am cheating. More than that; I shall cheat with aplomb and glorious pride. Panache, even. If I can use NaNo as a carrot---or a stick----to get THROUGH the part of the book I do not like doing (drafting) so I can get to the part that makes my little red boat bob up and down all happy in the water (revising) then hellzya I am going to cheat, and I will Sleep. Just. Fine.

NaNo is a tool for writers---not a contest. I am not taking anything away from anyone else by cheating. The only prize for winning is crowing that you won. If I get 50K drafted I will crow like a glorious rooster on fire with hen-love at dawn of the first day of the new millennium. I will also crow that I cheated, that I had already started the book. Larlarlar.

I think I am fine with it because I see NaNo as a tool. You USE tools to accomplish things. In this case, my goal is making a novel. My goal is not “using this tool correctly.” Maybe with POWER tools you have to follow the manual or risk cutting off your thumbs but in THIS metaphor it is more screwdriver. And I use screwdrivers to whang the side of tight jam jar lids so they will unscrew. Which is not what it is technically FOR, but if it WORKS, I get jam.

And everyone likes jam.

But I still want to WIN, really really win even though the book is not fresh, so I will not count those PRE-November words. Instead I will try to draft 50K words here in November. I already have 4,444. (I have claimed 4,445 on my NaNo page because the REAL number word count gave me seemed so IMPROBABLE.) Some of my NaNo friends list are barely pushing 3K. Of course, some are at 13K or even 15K, but I am pretending not to see them.

My friend Thomas was at 3,875 yesterday, while I was at 3,550. When I got to 4,444 I sent him a loving little note that said, “I AM AT 4,444 SUCK ON THAT,” or something equally ladylike and charming. Then I went smugly off to sleep.

I am SO competitive, NaNo may actually work. I woke up this morning just NOT IN THE FRICKEN MOOD to draft. (No shock there.) I was front lining excuses, saying to myself, SELF you could draft but you REALLY need to get a jump start on Christmas shopping, when this little Thomas-Bomb email landed in my in-box.

“Excuse me while I clear my throat... ahhhhhem....5,546. BOO-YAH!!!”

I would love to discuss NaNo some more with you, Oh best beloveds. But I have to go draft. 6K or DIE, Thomas, and oh yeah, this is ON.

Posted by joshilyn at November 6, 2009 7:58 AM

If I was at 6000 by the end of the day, I might do a few pelvic thrusts out in my front yard. Because I am having a hard time pinning my words down with this novel. Ugh.

But good for you! Woohoo! Yay, cheating!!

Posted by: Heather at November 6, 2009 9:18 AM

-- thank you for contributing to my growing collection of exclamatory words (hellzya, Larlarlar)!

-- brilliant to sign up under a SECRET name. That is way more cool than signing up under a pen name or a pseudonym.

-- I think that the masterminds at NaNo came up with that word count bar as a psychological cattle prod to the competitive part of the brain. I now care only about making that bar fill up with blue.

Posted by: Michelle at November 6, 2009 9:43 AM

Yes! Competition with friends is the lifeblood of Nano, and communication about same is essential (the snarkier the better). I myself am hovering just above 4K but that is because I edit for pay and must complete my editing work on a document by 8 p.m. tonight that consists of 30 pages of riveting prose like (I kid you not): "By continuity and monotonicity of functions, such scalars exist and are unique. X partitions the interval X into two subsets: for all X, the corresponding scalars satisfy X." Feel my pain.

Posted by: JMyersbook at November 6, 2009 10:43 AM

@JMyersbook: You are a saint and I bow to your agony. What the FRAK are you editing???

And I just knew that the competition side of NaNoWriMo would get another book draft out of our wonderful hostess!

Posted by: Beth R at November 6, 2009 11:15 AM

Are you drafting TOMS for this? If it will get us a new Joss book faster I will cheer you on and even take notes while you do those 40 push ups just to help you get it done faster. June is JUST WAY to far away to wait for Backseat Saints. There is just no other way to say it. But we love you just the same.

Posted by: Linda J at November 6, 2009 11:16 AM

That is not cheating, that is SMART. I would put my money on you (if I had any) to get to 50K before the end of the month.

Posted by: Aimee at November 6, 2009 11:40 AM

What you said about Nano. I'm not cheating, only because I was so behind I didn't even think of an outline (or, if truth be told, the exact nature of the conflict but-we-shall-not-dwell-on-that) before Nov. 1 was upon us and my wordcount deficit started to expand. Kind of like my waist has been.
So, I'm determined to win anyway, and have been submitting myself to the tortuous ministrations of Dr. Wicked.
Now, if I'd thought of excercise as a way to procrastinate on drafting, well, my waist would be shrinking. Much like my wordcount deficit.

Posted by: JulieB at November 6, 2009 3:13 PM

I'm Nano-ing - my first attempt at a novel. Since a first novel is usually a throwaway, I figured I'd invest only 30 days of my life instead of a year or two.

Posted by: cheryl at November 6, 2009 8:02 PM

I was feeling pretty good and snarky myself about my 7,000+ words yesterday - especially since this is my first Nano. And then I saw the word count on one of my writing buddies at 20,000 - GAH! Now, mind you, I don't even know this person. I just saw a post of hers that I liked and decided to "buddy up." Now I'm regretting it because of the inferiority complex she's giving me!

Posted by: Kitty at November 6, 2009 8:55 PM

Pffft. That's not really cheating. As long as you only count the words that you write in November. Plenty of people work on previous projects. Plenty.

And I'm even an ML and I'm saying this. Whooo-hooo! Nano! Speaking of - I must go and write 900 words so I break 10,000 tonight.

Posted by: Courtney Leigh at November 6, 2009 10:01 PM

Yay for all you NaNoers! 50K is 50K, no matter where you start, so cheat on, Joss! I will cheer you all on from the sidelines, where I am painstakingly proof-reading, line by excrutiating line, my dearest's Masters Thesis ... politics in policing, and let's go back and dissect the historical political philosophies of the last 20 centuries while we're at it. My brain is mush, I can't even write a coherent tweet, let alone a blog post.

So Yay for all the rest of you! NaNo On!

Posted by: PattiH at November 6, 2009 11:08 PM

At least you chose pushups as your alternative. I probably would have been like, "Go eat some cake or draft?" Draft doesn't even have a chance in that combination, and the cake would undo all the workout I just did. At least you will have toned arms, even if very little drafting happens...

Posted by: Haley at November 7, 2009 11:00 AM

@JMyerbook: Ow! Ow! OW!!

@Joss: Your love of editing is a mystery to me. Most of what I have written in the past was papers for college (including my grad research thesis on personality disorders) unpublished (and possibly dreadful) poetry, and (also possibly dreadful)short stories. I HATE editing. I took an extra semester to finish my grad thesis, partly because some people with personality disorders do not care to be studied but mostly because I avoid editing until the last possible moment.

Posted by: JMixx at November 7, 2009 9:57 PM

I ALWAYS cheat at NaNo. Use it to complete a half-done manuscript or whatever I need to work on. I couldnt' care less about the rules, just really find that little coloured status bar very motivating (wish I had one for EVERYTHING IN LIFE). So, go you, and no worries about cheating!!

Posted by: TrudyJ at November 7, 2009 11:01 PM

I'm with you on drafting vs revising. So weird...wouldn't you think the raw imagining part would be the fun one? But no...only way I make it work is by sitting down the same time every day, tricking myself by editing what I wrote the day before and pretending that's what I'm doing all day. Then, to my horror, I find that I have nothing left to do but draft. And I'm not allowed to eat lunch until I have 1,000 new words.

I have a friend who doesn't let herself pee until she's hit her goal for the day. How the hell do you concentrate with a full bladder?

Posted by: Ellen Booraem at November 8, 2009 5:34 PM

JMyersbooks -- Bless your heart! Reminds me of my days editing a Chinese grad student's work in the Robotics lab at UT. Not only could I not understand what he had written (his English), I couldn't understand what the heck he was trying to write (the engineering). It was painful. I don't remember why on earth I got that job other than the fact that my husband (fiance at the time) was getting his masters out of the same lab. I used to stop by all the time and when they found out I was a communications major, they just assumed I could whip this guy's research articles into shape. Oh the things we do for love...

Posted by: Lori B. at November 9, 2009 10:38 AM

Fellow Nano'er and I think that having the higher word count of your writing buddies is THE BEST motivation!! Sadly, I had a wonderful work count cushion that deflated when the kiddies got sick all last week-no writing for momma :(
Back on track now at 15K, that is until midnight when i will then again be behind.
And did you know that your link to Nanowrimo is wrong? Thought I would mention it just in case it slipped your mind.

Posted by: kimby at November 10, 2009 8:04 PM