Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cheating on NaNoWriMo, Again

by Sabra Wineteer

I am going to cheat on NaNoWriMo. Again. I've done it before. Two years ago when I needed to take an editing break from a work-in-progress novel and switch gears like the best of us.

Last time, I got a fair way into a novel that has yet come to nothing. There is sometimes a point in a writer's development in which ambition outweighs ability. This was the case with this "cheater" novel. I kept bringing in elements, not small little things that are quirky, interesting, and help to flesh out a character, but premise bending sorts of elements. Not to say that the novel's a mess, but it's got a lot of plates spinning, has a wonderful riff about London and the English language sort of thing. Bill Clegg would love it. But I didn't or probably still don't have the ability to pull together so many themes. I also fell out of love with it and have moved on.

This time, I'm cheating the same way I did last time. I'm not starting from scratch. Words are drafted. Thousands of words. Scenes are noted. I've invested in copious amounts of books to learn more about the world my characters will inhabit. According to the NaNoWriMo guidelines, this is a sort of cheating. Worse, I'm starting early. This week I have finished final edits (at least before an agent and/or editor gets hold of it) on a social realism novel. My speculative dystopian novel, now moves up in the world, becomes my work-in-progress novel. And for weeks this novel has been in the back of my mind, scenes coming to me while I walk the dog or take a bath or at night when I dream. I'm going to love on it now. This is early for NaNoWriMo. This is cheating on NaNoWriMo. Worst, I've already "workshopped" this novel. At least the first part of the first chapter. I've already edited it instead of doing a full on drafting blitz. NaNoWriMo is a drafting orgy.

 And I don't care that I'm cheating on NaNoWriMo. This novel has been crying out for attention for far too long for me to ignore it for another two weeks. So I won't. Call me cheater, cheater pumpkin eater. Or become my writing buddy and we'll cheer each other on, cheating or not. And let me know if you've ever done NaNoWriMo, especially if you've cheated on it.

*NOTE about my user name- dorcasweed- on NaNoWriMo. Dorcas Weed is such a bad name it's not just good, it's great. Dorcas Weed is also my oldest American female ancestor. At least that I've discovered. She was born in 1640 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. Wethersfield was a new Puritan colony founded by her parents, parents-in-law, and others.

Photo by Curt Richter
Sabra Wineteer grew up in Moss Bluff, Louisiana. She has since lived in England, New Zealand, Germany, Missouri, Tennessee, Texas, and currently lives in rural Pennsylvania with her husband and their three tweens. Her work has appeared in TWINS Magazine, storySouth, The Rumpus, 7X20, and the anthology 140 And Counting. She has workshopped her fiction with Antonya Nelson, Charles D'Ambrosio, and Margaret Atwood. She is the 2012 Joyce Horton Johnson Fiction Award recipient and founder of Talking Shop, an upcoming online literary community. She's shopping a social realism novel and drafting her next- a speculative dystopian literary novel.

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