Happy Halloween, everyone! And wow, long time no post! The last month has been a little crazy and a lot busy. But I know that’s not a great excuse, so I’ll just apologize and get on with it. From now on, I’ll be back to my usual posting schedule, starting with a few book reviews that will be up soon. But before I jump into this tag, I just want to briefly explain that when I created this blog, I named it Pen & Pages because I fully intended to make posts related to writing alongside the book ones. Clearly, I haven’t done that. However, tomorrow, November 1st, marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).
If you don’t know what I’m referring to, you can get a full explanation here. I thought it would be fun to do little updates throughout the month as I attempt to write my novel, and I’m starting with this tag as a way to explain my NaNo history. I love NaNoWriMo, and I think this blog will be a great way for me to express my daily or weekly thoughts/feelings/wins/frustrations/inspirations. I know many people do NaNo daily vlogging or blogging, and I’ve always wanted to do something similar because I think it would help me get to the finish line. So let’s get to it, shall we? Here’s my NaNoWriMo history in the form of this tag created by booktuber Kristina Horner.
1. How many times have you done NaNoWriMo?
This year will mark my 6th year of participation. Yep, that means I’ve been stuck with my 15 year old self’s embarrassing username this whole time. (Add me as a writing buddy to see my name!) There really should be an option to change that because I don’t want to have all my novel info separated with two different accounts. Also, when I say this is my 6th year, I mean it’s my 6th November since I’ve never done any of the Camp NaNoWriMo months.
2. How did you first find out about NaNoWriMo?
My memory is a bit rusty on this one, but I think I found out about it through an internet friend. Either that or through Tumblr. I honestly can’t remember, but I know I found out a few days into November, so I got a late start. But I still managed to win that year!
3. What was the name of the first novel you attempted with NaNo?
My first NaNo novel is titled “The Second Layer.” It was an extremely unrealistic fantasy that I mostly just wrote for fun. I haven’t looked at it in ages, but I’m sure I’d now find it funny (and cringe-worthy).
4. Give us a 1 sentence summary of what you’re writing this year.
Oh man, okay. Here goes: Tentatively titled “Altered Minds” (VERY likely to change), my NaNo novel this year is an urban fantasy/supernatural about an annoying man who thinks he’s someone he’s not, a girl who is mysteriously always forgetting everything (especially when it comes to murders), and a boy who has to do more than he signed up for for someone he would rather never see again. Vague, I know. Weird? Probably a little.
5. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given?
I’ve heard a lot of advice from a lot of different people who consider themselves writers. Most of it is easy for me to take and use, but there’s one piece of advice that’s not so simple (at least for me), and this to not get discouraged when your novel feels impossible to write and to trust in the process even if it takes years. Let me explain. I’m the type of writer who finds it extremely hard to get to the end of a novel because I always get halfway through and realize that I’m not into it anymore or I hate the direction I’ve gone or I simply just don’t like my story. When this happens, I usually give up. I put the story aside and start a new one or, in some cases, I’ll scratch everything I’d written and start over from square one. After awhile I start feeling like I’m just wasting time and that I’ll never actually finish a novel ever. One day, my college had an author signing which I went to, and during the Q & A part she talked about how long it took her to complete the novel because she kept throwing out long drafts. I’m talking Word documents of 100 pages plus. She said that once she finally started the draft that would later be edited instead of thrown out, it had felt right and almost easy. She said that even though it took her years to write that novel, at some point the writing process turned from frustrating to necessary. She also explained that thinking a novel will take you a couple months to write and that you’ll be satisfied with it is a possible phenomenon, but it’s also okay if it doesn’t happen that way. That it’s okay to take breaks from novels or to leave novels left unfinished and to just keep writing and writing and writing until one day something clicks. You just have to trust in the process and trust that eventually the novel you were meant to write will get written in the way it’s supposed to. Sometimes that takes a few months. Sometimes that takes a few years, and sometimes that takes more than a few years. Don’t let that discourage you. I try very hard not to anymore.
6. Did you ever take a year of of NaNo? Why?
I considered taking this year off, actually. I was struggling with coming up with something to write, and I didn’t want to do the same novel I worked on the past two NaNos. That novel is in the “I need a break from you” file right now. I came up with a plot eventually but didn’t know if I had enough to make a novel from. But then came the characters. They came to me out of nowhere, and it’s been a long time since I’ve come up with characters I adore so much. I decided I have to write, even if my plot is lacking, for the sake of these characters. Other than this almost no-go, I’ve never missed a year since starting.
7. What’s your biggest inspiration when figuring out what to write?
I find inspiration from a lot of things but especially from music. Sometimes the tone or mood of a song is enough to inspire something, and a lot of times a single line will give me ideas. I have several writing playlists full of songs that help me get in a certain mindset or remind me of characters. I listen to them repeatedly when I need inspiration. I also get inspired, mainly for genre, from other novels or TV shows.
8. Tell us the first sentence from one of your novels.
All of my novels are on my laptop that is currently not with me. However, I do remember one first line from memory. This comes from last year’s NaNo story.
“I sometimes thought that the universe had a bad sense of humor.”
9. Why do you love writing?
What a question. I think I love writing because I love reading. I love how words and stories have the power to affect people so deeply. I love that writing takes you away from reality, yet is still often grounded in aspects of real life. Some might say events that happen in books affect me more than certain things that happen in real life, which might sound weird, but it’s true. Books and written words get emotional responses from me in a way that little else can. I want to be able to do that too. Writing also helps me release emotion. I feel what my characters feel. It’s difficult to really explain in full why I love writing besides what I’ve already said, and I think you have to be a writer to get what I mean. Writing can be hard. But it’s so very rewarding. You learn about the world and yourself in the process. I can’t imagine myself not loving to write.
Alright, that wraps up this tag! I hope you learned a little bit about me and you find yourself inspired to do NaNoWriMo if you don’t already plan to. It’s fun. It’s stressful. It’s crazy. It’s not for the faint of heart. But it’s worth it.
Until next time, keep reading a writing! – Veronica