Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Ninety-Eight Percent Solution

I've participated in the madness that is NaNoWriMo for four years, since I first ran across it in October, 2008. It's always been a blast. The first year, I enjoyed the story I was writing - that, to my shame, I find I am still editing.

In Year Two (2009) I tried something I hadn't tried before - writing from multiple points of view. Three main point-of-view characters, trying to keep them all balanced in my head.

In the third year, I took one of my Goldberg Variation flash stories and expanded it into a novel. It, actually, has the potential to become a series. I knew the ending I wanted to reach, but wasn't sure I have enough novel to get there. I tried something new here also, filling out initial character studies and blocking out the main scenes (at least for the first part of the story). There was always the intent to block out more scenes during the month of November. Didn't happen.

This year, year four, something new occurred. I didn't complete the fifty thousand words in the allotted time. I got close though, 98%. Nine hundred and some words left to write, but not the time in which to write them. As it turns out, the story is huge. There're a lot more than nine hundred words left to write to tell it properly. They will be written, at a slightly more leisurely pace than what went on last night.

This was the scene last night, shortly after midnight. My right wrist was tired, my shoulders stiff and my poor pens were worn out. Given I had to write over 7,000 words in the evening, I decided I wasn't going to stop to refill any pen that ran out of ink. Happily I had enough pens to hand meet the need.

From the top left: a Sheaffer Valor - black and palladium finish, Waterman Carene - black and gold, Aurora Optima - red with gold nib, Pilot Vanishing Point - blue carbonesque finish and the Edison Urushi Herald.

All did sterling work. The vast bulk of the words during the month were written with the Sheaffer. It's been a while since I used it and t'was good to take it out for a run. The others played backup in case I needed it. And last night I did.

So, I didn't win NaNoWriMo this year. Still, getting to 98% of the goal - that's not bad by any measure.


  1. Not bad at all! :) Your pens deserve a little new ink to celebrate too.

  2. That they do, Laura. I'd already promised myself a nice deep green for my Edison pen. Now I can blame you! :-)

  3. Wow, congratulations! And you did it by HAND? My fingers are aching in sympathy... but wow! That's impressive!

    And you didn't 'lose' Nano either. Just participating means you tried something crazy and that's a good thing. I'm still editing mine too. But mine is my fourth Nano-novel (2010) and I'm a little over halfway through my first pass at revision. It's going to take a while, :) My point is, don't feel bad. It's worth taking the time to do it right.

  4. Hi ganymeder, yes - by hand, as is done the previous three. Agreed, I tried something crazy - and a very good thing it was too. The story I'm trying to tell is Huge, but I will finish it.

    Thanks for the good thoughts - and best wishes as you edit your own work.

  5. In this age of digital words and ball points, it's refreshing to see someone who still enjoys using a fountain pen :)

  6. @shahzebnajam - thank you, I very much enjoy using my "functional works of art"