This Year, the Word Was “Other”

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Yeah … so the Bear Feed has been kinda quiet for the last month, except for an odd alert about a something something with respect to an article, but that’ something for a future post.  The main reason it’s been quiet is that … well … it’s November.  November for the last five months means I was participating in the National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo).  Faithful Bear Feeders might remember this from past years, or more directly just a month ago in Let’s Talk NaNoWriMo.  The goal of this process is to write 50,000 words during the month of November in the process towards writing a full length novel.  They call reaching this goal as “Winning” because an event about words had to pick a confusing word to describe reaching the goal.

So how did I do?

I won.  Meaning I reached 50,000 words … barely.

This was my fourth attempt at NaNoWriMo that resulted in a win.  It was my latest win, and my lowest word count in a winning effort.  I left work on November 30th with almost a thousand words left to right, and questionable amount of material in my head to cross that front.  It took nearly three hours (a slow rate for me), but I got there with more than enough time to celebrate.  Here’s some data in comparison, a year by year crunch:

  • 2015 — Reached 50k on Nov 29 — Total: 50,434
  • 2016 — Reached 50k on Nov 27 — Total: 55,280
  • 2017 — Reached 50k on Nov 27 — Total: 57,109
  • 2018 — Reached 50k on Nov 30 — Total: 50,366

In more detail, 2016 I was able to reach 55k, win early, all while quitting my job and beginning my transition to come to California.  2015 was my first every ‘win’, so I was still figuring it all out … plus I had surgery.  2017 I coasted for much of the last week and still blew the number out of the water.  2018 should have been easy.

It nearly was.  I reached 40k by Nov 17th – at that rate, I was due to finish by Thanksgiving.  What happened?  Well … life.

Ask anyone who does something to create and they will tell you that creating requires your head to be in a certain mindspace.  That’s what I love about NaNo, actually.  When it’s good, you’re in that mindspace continuously, even when you are not writing.  This year, it was broken up by a number of events that I really didn’t need to let break it.  I lost a bit of my control, and I spent day after day burning up my writing time with trying to mentally deal with things that weren’t worth that time.  I got where I needed to go, but only through perseverance, following a plan, and accountability (which while good for most goals, is really tough when you are creating).

I mentioned in the prep post, I am talking way more about what I do during NaNo and sharing things from it.  Heck, I even discussed the plot with my parents … who let’s face it, aren’t the best ones to share with, especially when it has to do with dead hookers.  But I was still sharing more than I ever had.  Every couple days I shared excerpts on Facebook, on internal JPL writing group threads, and just with random people.  That created this dialog that helped me build up my confidence, something that never really wavered.  The biggest support included a good friend Rhi Rhi who was trying NaNo for her first time; but I got to say, my Monday Night Wine-In Write-In writing group who get together, swig wine, and occasionally create fancy words (I am writing this blog right now, and we are discussing how the personality of a guy changes by changing the spelling of his name from Robert to Rhobert … which is getting hilarious).

The novel isn’t finished, far from it.  It probably has another 20,000 words left in it, but it’s more in reach than any novel I gave a first try at in my NaNo history.

Since I am talking about, why don’t I talk about it.  The story is based on an interesting conversation on ‘what if’ I had about seven years ago with a fellow creative.  It went … what if we could genetically manipulate ourselves to become anthropomorphic to be part human and part animal – like part cat or part dog.  Then, what if people did it as a way to be ‘cool’. Then, what if some bad seeds spilled the lot, and those half-human-half-animals are now relegated to the a skid-row bad part of town, which just makes more bad seeds.  So this story takes place in the rough broken down time; and the main characters have to deal with the death of one of the many forgotten and downtrodden souls.  Or as I like to joke … It’s Zooptopia with Dead Hookers.

So as I sat there struggling to get out those last few words, I am writing a scene with people coming together at near the end of the novel, and I wrote:

That’s when I started laughing again. A belly laugh. The kind of laugh that starts hurting your side.
The other two looked at me and I shook my head. “He … he pisses there … he said he pisses there all the time like he couldn’t control it. He’s going to be buried in his own pee.”
The others start laughing too.
And start wiping tears away.
At some point, our arms were around each other.

The last word was my 50,000th.  It was a nice ending to a grueling last couple of days.  It was satisfying and that’s what matters.

Now the real work begins.  I have to finish this first draft, which means closing a load of plot holes.  Meanwhile, the brutal process of editing begins, which is the real work.  So, if you ask me “can we read it”, I’ll tell you “it’s not ready for you” over and over again.

…. until it will be.

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