Last November, I started my Nano novel with only a bare idea of what I would write. I wanted to do a home front novel, old-fashioned, sweet, simple. A couple of days before Nanowrimo was to start, I came up with two characters, Abraham and Maura, and thought about them a bit as I went through my daily activities. I decided Abraham would volunteer for war duty and I’d start the story as he was leaving. He would be quiet, hard-working, responsible, and able. He would also be an artist of some kind, since the arts feature in all of my books.
Maura was harder to pin down. In fact, I wasn’t sure who she was going to be when I started writing on the 1st. I did know she would stay home and would have to take care of things, mainly on her own.
That was how I started last year’s quest to write a new novel in one month. Never before had I actually finished a first draft during November. I tend to write long. But I was determined to do that, to make it a quick story, first draft complete during November, and then go back to rewrite and edit in March when I join in a related challenge, to either do another 50K words of writing, or to choose how much of a project you want to rewrite. I rewrote the whole thing that month. All that was left was edits. Funny, several of my readers have said that quick novel is their favorite so far. It’s called Protect The Heart.
This year’s novel I’ve been planning for a while. I’ve had a lot of comments about the main supporting character in Off The Moon (which released during Nanowrimo last year and included every other day guest blogging in support at the same time I was writing the new one). Daws is a no-nonsense, highly intelligent, very capable, burly bodyguard for Ryan, my pop star hero. He nearly stole the story at times, so I decided he should have his own book, another quick write, mostly for my fans who wanted more of him. Thirty days to bring out his background and show how he met the love of his life? No problem. I’ve done a couple of Off The Moon related short stories about Daws and Deanna and figured I’d grab the scenes from those and then tie them up into a full novella. An easy Nano project I could do at the same time I keep working on the third book of the Rehearsal series.
It isn’t working out that way.
There’s something amazing that happens when you write a novel and simply let it go where it wants to go. You find so many things hidden deep within yourself that are just bursting to come out.
The story of Daws and Deanna is far from a quick, simple write. It’s becoming emotionally purging. I knew part way through Off The Moon that Daws was ex military, although Ryan doesn’t know he is or that he has a connection with Ryan’s father. I didn’t know until planning this year’s Nano novel that he’s also a Desert Storm vet with a history of being on his own and fending for himself while looking out for those around him. I knew Deanna was a feisty, independent NYC girl who had a lot of misadventures with men she’d trusted. I didn’t know she would end up finding out what it’s like to be the main emotional support for a soldier and have to figure out how to survive in that world.
This is much harder to write than I expected. So many experiences of my past as an Army spouse are making their way into this book. Last year’s quick tribute to the military and those who stay home to take care of everything else didn’t go deep enough to purge all of those events and struggles. This one is diving too far down. It’s becoming rough water.
I do think, if I can keep wading through it, it could become one of my most worthy writes, though, even if it’s only as personal therapy.
Even if you have no plan to become an author or even tell anyone you write anything, give noveling a shot just once. You’ll be amazed at what you find out about yourself.
On this Veteran’s Day, I’d like to thank all service members past, present, and future. I will keep up the fight to support you during your service and after.
God Bless and Hooah!
My Nanowrimo page is HERE if you’re there, also, and would like to become a buddy, or if you want to track my progress. (I haven’t updated every day.) There’s also a counter on the sidebar of my blog that shows my current word count.
My current Nano novel is available in its first draft form, separated into each day’s work HERE. (Never mind typos and such. Editing isn’t allowed during November!)