Hallelujah! Camp NaNoWriMo for April of 2021 is complete, and with a final check-in of 52,781 words, I’ve officially won my first event.
It’s been 4 years since I began building the world for my story, Ray of Sunshine. It all began with one moment. I was driving down the highway by my childhood home, and I passed a bright yellow Ford F-100. I loved the retro look of the truck, and instantly fell in love. In the cab was two people: A tall stocky man in his late twenties driving, and a girl who looked a little younger in a backwards baseball cap over long blonde hair. From this image, the drive to my friends house an hour away was spent coming up with a story for these two people and their bright yellow truck.
A Home For a Story
The novel format wasn’t the original one that this story was written for. At the time, I was learning to draw, and Sunshine was meant to be a graphic novel. However, I never got very good with the drawing arts, so it became more of a frustration. Then it became an expense combined with frustration when I went to work with an artist on the project.
I was able to get the drawing above of my main girl, Laney. I fell in love. But it took a year to actually get the drawing in my hand due to delays, and this wasn’t the final product. I ended up getting a refund from the artist, which discouraged me for a long time, but I kept fantasizing about the world, and everything going on.
Next, I dug into my roots as a filmmaker. (I graduated with a degree in Filmmaking from Montclair State University, and promptly did nothing with my degree). I started work on a script for a Ray of Sunshine movie. I did research on real life locations for the settings, and even did screen tests for Laney’s powers in After Effects. (The results were meh, and I’ve long since lost those files.)
The realization that it would be damn near impossible to get funding and time for such a project was the next bit of discouragement I needed to take matters into my own hands. If I was going to get this story told, it would be in my own hands the best way I knew how. Written word.
I had never written a book prior, besides the small book from my childhood summer camp, so it was a daunting task, but there was something I had always heard of, but never looked into around the corner….
November is a big month for two important parts of my identity: NaNoWriMo for the storyteller in me, and AWS Re:Invent for the software/DevOps engineer in me. And 2018 was an even bigger year in my life than I anticipated.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is the event where storytellers of all kinds rush to meet the goal of 50k words in a month. At that point, you have the minimum amount of content for a work to be considered a “novel,” but importantly for this post, it’s a “just barely” approach. The important part is that it’s attainable in a month span, no matter the life circumstances.
AWS Re:Invent is Amazon’s conference for developers and systems engineers to revel in the new releases of Amazon Web Service’s offerings. The event is a days long string of workshops, keynotes, and plenty of corporate sponsorships dotting the vendor floor and selling their services.
In 2018, I attempted both of them in the same month. That was a different lifetime for me, as you can tell by this section’s photo. This was the final months of a horrible, borderline abusive relationship that urged me to get back on the right road for my life. But that’s a different story.
Needless to say, the stress of work, a bad relationship, and dysphoria was enough to cause me to fail that challenge miserably. I think I got two shoddy chapters in before giving up under the stress of life. And to be honest, I made every excuse in the book, but the ultimate blocker was me. Just me saying no to doing something for me, as I had been for years at that point.
One of the really nice things about the two things coinciding was that Re:Invent takes place in Las Vegas. And guess where my book takes place…? You guessed it. Free, company paid book research! Hell yeah! Even though I didn’t get my goal, I still came out of things a little stronger for it, and got to feel my world’s locale. It really helped out this time around.
The Road to 90k
So what now? Well, 50k isn’t nearly enough for a YA Sci-Fi novel. Not in the slightest. Gonna need to tack another 30-40k on there to really wrap this story up.
As far as structure goes, Completing 50k got me to the end of Part 2 of the outlined book, so I’m going to need to add extra content to both Parts 1 & 2, on top of finishing up Part 3. The nice thing about being done with NaNo now is that I can really take this at my own pace, and sit down to edit what I have.
Is it a good idea to edit while still writing? Probably not, according to blog posts and videos I’ve read, but I’m probably going to do it anyway. Not because I’m self-sabotaging, but because I already have a strong idea of where the story is headed, and writing as a “plantser” has opened up story holes and new information that needs addressing. I already know I’ll be rewriting large sections of the story, so I might as well sort out my plot issues now rather than later.
Despite taking this at my own pace, I still set up a goal counter for 90k by the end of May, but this time, I don’t care if I hit it or not. It’s just there to push me along, and give me hints on how much I “should” be writing per day. Thankfully, my income doesn’t rely on my writing, so I’m pretty happy with that structure for now.
Next Time on NaNoWriMo!
Will I be doing NaNo in July? In November? Well… Probably! July will probably be my true second draft edit for Ray of Sunshine, and I’ll probably be doing NaNo in November for a completely different story.
I don’t want to say I’ll focus on Book 2 of The Oblivion Singularity Saga, because I want some air to breath for this world. I also know I have tons of concepts and ideas to explore, most of which can’t be addressed in a world where society has collapsed (or can it… hmmm).
That’s not to say I haven’t been thinking about Book 2. I definitely know where this story is headed… vaguely. And I want to really sit down and see where I can take it, *cough Unity City cough* but…
Yeah, let’s not use this blog post to talk myself into a bad idea. I’m going to come up with an awesome November story, just you wait.
And this time, I’ll be ready to win again!