The Journey

Friday Night Clam Bake – #35: It’s Almost the Time of Year When I Do That Questionable Thing That Confuses Most People

I know what you’re thinking: I do questionable things all the time. What makes this day any different? But this one is legit. Well, sort of.

When dawn breaks on the first day of November, I will be embarking on my seventh voyage with NaNoWriMo (for those who recognize the lingo), otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month (for those who prefer that I spell things out and not use those wretched social-media abbreviations and acronyms that are ruining the literary skills of most of the planet). The goal of said adventure is to madly scribble 50,000 words for your latest writing project, in the span of thirty days. (For those who get giddy about math, this breaks down to 1,667 words a day.)

It’s most assuredly a challenge, and a frenetic one at that. Some folks do not thrive in such an environment, and they should understandably stay far away from this project. And I’ll admit that I struggled with my virgin attempt. (Don’t we all?) I’m someone who is very specific about my wording, wanting things to align just so. (I can spend hours on a single paragraph, true story.) But you can’t do that when the clock is ticking, day after day. And that’s really the point of the whole project; it’s not “get it right”, it’s “get it out”.

The goal is to throw off the instinctive editing-shackles and just keep typing, capturing whatever falls out of your brain, without any regard for structure, plot, or, really, coherency. And once you’re able to achieve a free-association mindset, the floodgates open. (At least for me. As mentioned, this exercise is not for everyone.) I don’t limit what’s coming out. If I’m working on a particular passage in the story and it happens to trigger a memory of something unrelated to the story, I run with it until that memory is captured and then I go back to the plot.

End result, as November finally wanes? I have hundreds of pages crammed with ideas, disparate and diverse, random sidebars that often don’t contribute to the book I’m working on but provide fuel for future literary fires. It’s a massive download of crazed creativity that (hopefully) can germinate and grow. Many of the stories you see on Bonnywood are the gestated results of past November conceptions, in one form or another.

Okay, let’s shove all my writer-geek passions aside and get to the point that most of you are actually concerned about: What does my submersion into NaNoWriMo mean for you, dear reader?

Well, not really all that much. I plan to keep posting with some degree of regularity, so there should be something to poke a stick at when you visit. Things will all balance in the end, and we’ll get back to regular programming at some point, but there will definitely be days when tumbleweeds are blowing across the Bonnywood pages, possibly leading to you feeling a bit unsettled about our relationship. It’s not you, it’s me. Just hang tight until December 1. [Cue Diana Ross and the Supremes (or Jimmy Sommerville!) singing “Someday We’ll Be Together” on the soundtrack for this post.]


Note: The opening photo is a snap I took at Partner’s nephew’s wedding LAST November. Said ceremony was at one of those “country chic” rustic marriage venues. I don’t know what this building was all about, off to the side and avoided like it was, but it certainly looks like a place wherein I would sequester myself during NaNoWriMo, if I only could. Instead, I NaNo in a boring backroom at Bonnywood. Not exactly a Writer’s Retreat, but it will have to do…

P.S. If you happen to be a fellow NaNoWriMo enthusiast, you can hook up with me here, if you so desire:

45 replies »

  1. Oh my. I wouldn’t have the strength, so I greatly admire that you’re able to do this, Brian. Put your feet up on Sunday (even though it’s Halloween), enjoy a chocolate or two and good luck on Monday. May you get off to a smooth and productive start that sustains you throughout the month. We’ll be here when you’re finished.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Lynette. I do plan to have a rather non-strenuous Sunday as preparation, with the only distraction being a quick Sunday Fun Day gathering with some of the Hidden Valley Ranch folks. A drink or two and then we’re back home, ready to hand out goodies to door-knocking neighborhood urchins…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I always think I’m going to NaNo… Always mean to do it… If only it wasn’t in November. Somehow, every year or at least every November, life happens. Roofs leak, pipes burst, teeth give out, people and pets succumb to their mortality, the wrong people win elections. Life. And yet I start each November with those 1667 daily words beckoning. So good luck to us all. I’ll see you on the other side. Or December, whichever comes first.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think we’ve chatted about this before. You DO seem to go through some rather unsatisfying Novembers, so perhaps it’s best not to tempt fate. As for me, I can’t help myself. Despite the harried rush and tediousness toward the end, I love the finished product, a massive jumble of words that I can then prune and harvest throughout the next year…

      Liked by 1 person

    • It certainly IS time to start thinking about what I might be doing concerning the village this time around. Some years it’s a massive layout, other years the population of Bonnywood Village is very sparse, with just a few houses and a small sprinkle of fake snow. We’ll see what my mood is in the next few weeks…

      Liked by 1 person

    • I have been thinking about The Village lately, and it has been many years since I did the entire extravaganza. It makes me giddy when I do the full spread, but it takes a LOT of work. And then there’s that mess about “metabolism going to hell” as we age with clumsy grace. I just don’t have the energy for a lot of things, anymore. But I still love Christmas. So, who knows…


  3. Given those constraints on quality control, maybe it should be called National Shite-Writing Month? But as I’m not in the US I have an inbuilt excuse not to take part in this ‘National’ event. That, and natural indolence…

    Liked by 2 people

    • Oh, I can confirm that there’s a lot of shite. A big chunk of my 50,000 words will never be seen again, messy and tossed aside. But there will be plenty of good seeds to cultivate, and I will definitely harvest such in some way…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hopefully some of those words will find themselves edited into the basis of blog posts, even if you consign the novel to the waste bin of history. Good luck with it – I’d never try it!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Sounds far too wild and impulsive- but let the Brian mind run free-wheelingly where it will. Because, well… doesn’t it anyway? Enjoy.
    (That unsound tin-pot shack would be no writers retreat in a hailstorm though.)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I am very bad under pressure. I do well on my own schedule without the clock ticking like a time bomb behind my neck. However I know others excel under such an environment. I wish you have a great time there and may words pouring out of your mind into your typing finger tips. I would love to read whatever you have to say.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not really a fan of pressure, either, as I had plenty of that in my career with Verizon. But in the last several years I’ve been a bit lazy with my book projects, so when NaNoWriMo rolls around every year, it reminds me that I haven’t published in quite some time and I’d best get to work, so I do. So NaNoWriMo, at least for me, is both a writing experience and a much-needed therapy session… 😉


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