So much for that idea ...

As you've probably figured out by now, my November didn't exactly go as planned. That's not to say I haven't been writing. As a matter of fact, I've been working very hard on this manuscript. It's been going in stages, though, because it's a revision rather than a from-scratch, start at the beginning and write until it's finished project.

So, we'll start with the bad news. There's no way I'm going to be able to say with any degree of legitimacy that I wrote 50,000 words in 30 days. I won't "win" NaNoWriMo this year.

The good news? Where do I begin?

What's in a name? For starters, this book finally has a title. Yay. My illustrious critique partner and Wonder Twin has this thing about titles - she says she can't write a book unless it has a title first. And her titles are undeniably fabulous - four of the six are her originals (as you may or may not know, the title an author gives a book may not necessarily be the one the publisher sends to press). I'm more subscribed to the school of thought that a title can be added after the fact - although admittedly it gives me a better sense of direction if I can establish a title that fits the story. I usually come up with a title that works for me when I have the bare bones of the story down.

To say that I admire Shakespeare would be a gross miscarriage of justice. The Bard fascinates me. While I am woefully lacking in any scholarly knowledge of the man or his works, I still love to read him for the simple joy of the language. And the more I read, the more I learn, so maybe someday I'll be able to amend the above disclaimer. For now, what I take away from his works are snippets of genius that provide me with the titles for my books. Some writers have title patterns (e.g., John Sandford's Prey series, Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum novels - even John Grisham's books, with a few notable exceptions, have a common title theme). I am one of those writers - at least until my future publisher (whoever that may be) decides to accept or reject my theory. No Evil Lost is from The Comedy of Errors. The new book's title - One Sweet Kiss - is taken from Master Will's poem Venus and Adonis. One of the lovely ladies in our critique group gets credit for steering me in that direction (thanks, Dingo!).

The gist of it. During the first week of NaNoWriMo, Harlequin sponsored a program called "So You Think You Can Write?" on their blog - a five-day workshop on writing romance; how-to tips, advice from HQ writers and editors, and daily challenges where they invited writers to submit first chapters, query letters, and questions. The Final Challenge was to submit a first chapter and synopsis. Encouraged, prodded and generally kicked in the seat by my critique group, I submitted my entry. Which meant I had to write a full synopsis of the book. Which meant I had to really nail down what it was about and what would happen over the course of the story. Most of it was in my head, tumbling around without a finite sense of order, but getting it on paper really helped me focus on the details. By that point I'd not accomplished very much toward the total word count, but at least I'd accomplished something to build on. And build I did.

Higher math. Word count is a tricky thing. No, I did not write 50,000 this month. I did, however, delete about that much from the previous version of the manuscript. More importantly, I added 18,251 words of almost entirely original material - er, meaning, of course, that I re-used some of what I'd written before.

No excuses. I didn't accomplish what I set out to accomplish at the beginning of this month. I could list myriad reasons why ... day job, illness, laziness, Thanksgiving (14 people at the house for the day), and a bazillion other distractions. But there are no real excuses. When you're a writer, you make time to write. You just ... write.

What I did do was to accomplish a lot more than just slapping words on a page to reach a goal that might not mean much in the long run. What I did was to make real progress on this manuscript, and we're in a far better place now than we were when this madness started.

For my own sense of self-worth, it's not the win that counts, it's how you run the race. And I'm still running.

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