Monday, November 22, 2010

Nano Guest: Ann Arbaugh

Nano-part2010Welcome to Ann Arbaugh, my third guest here to talk about her Nanowrimo experience! Ann is a first year Wrimo.

Welcome Ann!
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Several years ago, a friend told me about NaNoWriMo. I wasn’t ready for the challenge. I almost joined last year. There was a story that kept resurfacing in my consciousness. Again, I didn’t feel I was ready to work on a novel. Never mind that I already had a full-time job.

I’m new to novels, but not to writing. I’ve worked with one state writers group for years and I’m serving as a Board member on two groups this year. Most of my writing is poetry at the University, business writing, or features writing for a local community organization.

A friend told me about an online novel course she was teaching this past February. I decided to take it and see what would happen with the novel. By mid-April, I’d written 9,500 words of the story. I averaged 250-500 words a day, writing in 15-30 minute sessions during lunch. Although it wasn’t much, I was happy that I’d started on the project.

The next week, a close friend had a health scare and the wind went out of my sails. I couldn’t write. The next month, while traveling in Western Maryland, another idea came to me. I sat down and filled four regular sheets of paper in a very short time. The muse was not a steady worker.

Then everything changed. In July, I had a heart attack. At 48 years old. Once home, I was off for two months before I returned to work. I had all this time but the creative spark wasn’t there. I sat at the computer and tried to write. There was nothing. Yet, I could write emails to friends and family to share updates about my recuperation. In one night, through several messages, I wrote 3500 words to one person. Why? I was upset about something.

It was ironic. I couldn’t create, but I could write my story. I posted this on the Classic Romance Revival loop. I asked my e-friends to explain this to me. I said it was like trying to ride and rein in a wild horse. They all agreed that I should write whatever wanted to come out.

In mid-October, I was walking in the neighborhood and my muse whispered a “what if” about a car that drove by. I was thrilled. My spark was starting to flicker. I noticed a couple sparks in the days to follow. My writer friends on Facebook started asking each other if they were doing NaNo this year. This time, I went to the website and checked it out. After an hour of reading, I made my decision. Why not?

Why not try NaNo? I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I signed up on October 23 and waited. The muse decided to start early. Two days early. I woke up with a story in my head. By 9:15 that morning, I’d written 1,800 words on a new story. I was ecstatic. I decided that nobody would fault me for the early start.

I found that I have “writer’s A.D.D.”, at least that’s what I’m calling it. The muse is sending me ideas faster than I can get them written. I decided not to worry about working on a single story. It was more important to keep writing. On November 15, the halfway point, I’d hit the halfway mark – 25,000 words before I’d retired for the night. I was amazed.

Last week, I needed to concentrate on a personal project and didn’t spend much time writing. I was playing catch-up this weekend. As I write this, my total word count has reached 30,470. My total for the day – 4,464. It’s all because my muse and I are taking this ride together. Thanks to her cooperation, I have eleven stories and one non-fiction piece. The non-fiction piece is a Heart journal, addressing all the problems and changes the heart attack brought to my life. The fact that I’ve written this much, and have daily totals like this, is astounding to me. It’s a personal best.

What am I writing? Most of it is Romance. Some are Christian, some are dramatic. I was writing on Sunday and got caught up in one of the stories. Our heroine rescues a young girl and a handsome man from a car wreck caused by a drive-by shooting on a highway. They’ve been taken to the hospital. While there, the heroine finds out that the cop that’s questioning her isn’t a real cop. She has to protect herself and the child. If I told you the rest of the story, I’d have to shoot you.

How has this helped me? Aside from realizing that I can produce, I’ve learned to squeeze time for writing into my day. I bring my laptop to work, arriving early enough to write and using my lunch break to add more words. I take breaks from writing, not coffee breaks. I’ve taken a 90-minute hike at a local park, a two hour horseback trail ride, and attended a day-long writer’s conference. I’ll celebrate the holiday and watch a friend get married. After NaNo, I’ll set up a monthly word count that’s a little easier to manage.

I’m on vacation all this week and I’ll catch up to the daily cumulative count. I will finish with 50,000 words before November 30. Why? Why Not!

My NaNo page:

I’ll be setting up a blog by the end of the year.

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Thank you, Ann! Best of luck with the rest of November and your future ventures!


Unknown said...

Hi--if you write a ms like you write a blog, you should do very well. I enjoyed reading about your journey. Someday I'll try NaNoWriMo. If you can do it, I can to! Thanks for sharing--Celia

Amanda Borenstadt said...

Super post! :)
I loved reading about your journey to NaNo. Happy Writing!

Keena Kincaid said...

I enjoyed your blog and learning more about your NaNo journey.

Sometimes writing is like renovating your home. You have to get rid of all the clutter first, then you can really get down to the task at hand. So enjoy the ADD. Your muse will settle down soon enough.

Good luck on reaching 50K.

aarbaugh said...

Celia - Thanks for the compliment. You're so sweet. Yes, this is very much like the stories. I'll say my prayers & cross my fingers.

Amanda - Glad you liked it. Thanks for stopping by.

Keena - I like the analogy. I'll keep this in mind as she's running me ragged right now.

Kara Hartz said...

I admire how you've stuck with the writing through the tough times, and been willing to go with it where it takes you. I'm just learning to do that instead of fighting where I thought I wanted it to go.

LK Hunsaker said...

Celia, I agree, and I look forward to Ann's blog!

Amanda, hello! How is your Nano project coming along?

Keena, agreed, and I think getting it out and clearing the clutter also helps in non-writing tasks because it's not still badgering you to get it down. :-)

Kara, that's a huge factor in Nano, I think - learning not to fight your story. Such a creative rush, isn't it?

Christi Barth said...

You've created a GREAT habit - one that will last long after NaNo and keep you writing. Congratulations on making that change!

Maggie Toussaint said...

Hi Ann,

You sound like you are doing well with your NaNo project. And better yet, you are learning to work to your strengths, something that is very important for any writer to learn.

Wishing you all the best!

Maggie Toussaint
who spent nearly 30 years in Maryland, but now lives in Georgia

aarbaugh said...

Kara - I guess the tough times were enough to really get me going. It's a wonderful rush.

Christi - Thanks. It's nice to have my MRW friends behind me!

Maggie - I didn't realize I had it in me. Thanks for the good wishes.

LK Hunsaker said...

Christi and Maggie, thanks for coming by!

Ann, so glad you participated in my Nano guest fest this month!

Sharon Buchbinder, Romance Author said...

Go out, hunt the muse down and club her! You can do it! Keep writing, Ann.


aarbaugh said...

Thanks for inviting me, Loraine. I enjoyed the visit.

Sharon - I found the muse and we made a deal. Result: over 3000 words today. My total is now 36,567! All it took was some gingerbread pancakes and a big cup of hot cocoa. I knew there would be some chocolate involved.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Pocket Muse said...

OOoohhHH! Good bribe, those gingerbread pancakes. I'll have to remember that next NaNoWriMo! =)

Congrats and best wishes with your writing!

aarbaugh said...

Pocket Muse - They were wonderful. Next year, I think I'll make some good food ahead and freeze it. Should make life a little easier.