Image: Nano Bag o' SkullsFirst things first, this image needs a good caption. Write what should be the title or caption to this picture and put it in the comments. I'm sure I'm not the only one coming to the end of NaNoWriMo with some mixed feelings.
The real story behind the bag starts with the fact that our Halloween decorations were put away rather haphazardly this year. When I went to find certain winter holiday decorations, I had to move a pile of skulls out of the way. The NaNo bag was convenient. Then I looked over and realized I had a NaNo bag full of skulls and had to take a picture.
Why mixed feelings about NaNo? It isn't NaNo in particular, but this month has made it clear just how much my writing routine has changed in the last year. This is a good thing, by the way, but still, it a dose of reality to be ingested and assimilated. Two years ago I was writing as I pleased (or not), and left bits and pieces of work in various stages all over various hard drives. Millions of words of writing, actually, and while I had the idea that 'I'll get some of it published someday' I didn't have a plan for that.
Now I do have something of a plan, and it includes 'administrative' work as well as the fun 'writing with abandon' work. I have to be more focused and efficient, planning out projects in advance, choosing what old writing needs edited and what new writing needs to be done before I can move forward. My time includes looking up markets for short stories, targeting them, submitting them, and then iterating the process as necessary. It includes taking bits and pieces of novels - all the outlines, sketched out scenes, character profiles - and crafting them into actual books. There is also staying informed with general goings on in the speculative genres, writing in my blogs ... you know it all, I'm sure.
This year's NaNoWriMo made the changes in my approach much more clear to me. Last year I wrote over 75K just on the one novel, and poked around with various other projects without too much direction. I updated my word count daily and spent a lot of time on the forums. This year I'll clear the post at just over 50K, and didn't spend as much time as I would have liked on the site. I had to split my time more efficiently. I wrote with 'some abandon' which was fun, but more controlled than last year.
Still, I met new people, finished one project and started another, and had the experience capped by being interviewed by writer and fellow blogger Maureen O'Donnell for the Columbia Patch. So my feelings are mixed, sad to see NaNo go before I could really lose myself in it, but also glad to see it go, since I do need to keep my writing schedule balanced to meet all of my goals. In any case, as of this moment, I'm planning to get involved again next year.
Image credit: Bag o' Skulls by me.