NaNoWriMo 2013

I hit 50,000 words around 9pm last night, procrastinated a bit a lot, then finally finished out the story around 6am and validated it on the website at 53,220 words. Fewer words than the last two years, but hey, it’s still a finished story, and I did finish early again.

NaNoWriMo 2013 Winner!

This year was really different in a lot of ways though.

For one, my NaNoWriMo ~*Death Match*~ partner Keely (@mefasaur, formerly @mefloraine) decided last minute that she wouldn’t be participating this year because she wanted to focus on The Witch Protectorate of the West, her serial web novel. (Even though she totally didn’t post any new chapters all November! Shame!) This was kind of upsetting because our obnoxious rivalry was a huge motivating factor for me the last two years, and I was worried I wouldn’t be able to write nearly as much without beating Keely (or even just keeping up with her) as a side goal. I’m just petty like that.

For another, after waffling all October about what I wanted to write this year, I decided late Halloween night that I was going to write fanfiction.

In ten previous years of NaNoWriMo, I’d never written fanfiction. I’d actually never even considered it, though certainly I’ve written fanfics before, outside of NaNo (I hope that’s not a surprise or anything, ’cause come on). A long time ago, I wrote a 113,578 word epic Digimon fanfic. It took me two years to finish and it’s pretty damn awful, but it stands as the longest single piece of fiction I’ve ever written, and I’m still pretty proud I saw it through. It was a huge pain in the ass though, and I told myself after finishing it that I wasn’t ever going to write another fanfic that long again. I was only going to write oneshots. Oneshots are good and simple and easy and don’t take two years to do. So fanfiction for NaNoWriMo wasn’t going to be a thing for me.

But this year! This year my prospective projects for NaNoWriMo were:

  • Lehelle. Again. AGAIN. Though it’s been under a variety of working titles, Lehelle and related side stories have been my project for NaNoWriMo 2010, Camp NaNo 2011, Camp NaNo 2012, NaNoWriMo 2012, and Camp NaNo 2013. NaNoWriMo 2011 also took place in the same universe and timeline as Lehelle. Lehelle is that hallmark personal project I’ve obsessed over on and off for over a decade, but which I’d been especially fixated on for the last three. I wrote another outline (and changed a bunch of stuff again) for the main story in October, and it remained my mostly likely choice of project this year up until the last few days.
  • Shoot the Moon. This was my 2006 NaNoWriMo project and my first NaNo win. I want to revisit the story. I still like the idea and the characters, and it’s been a while now since I’ve written werewolves. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much of a plan regarding its rewrite and only had scattered pieces of a new outline in the final days of October, and I figured if I was going to rewrite it, I should plan it out properly first, so this wasn’t as strong a contender.
  • Wing It. I’ve “pantsed” through NaNoWriMo a few times, and it was enough times to figure out that I’m a planner and not a pantser. The only year I wrote without much of a plan and actually finished was 2009. Still, with all sane advice pointing to “take a damn break!” for Lehelle, I seriously considered another year of pantsing it because it was probably better than beating my head against the wall with round three (or more, depending on how you’re counting) of the same story.
  • Free! fanfic. Specifically, a Free! band AU fanfic, because Xib gave me the idea and it wouldn’t go away, and because fandom is scary and my fangirl problem seems to reach new heights every year. Was it bad last year when I drew nothing but Loki for three months? This is arguably worse. Or maybe it just feels worse because I’m still sitting in the middle of it? I’d never actually written an AU fic before and didn’t have a very concrete plot in mind for the idea, but it being an AU was some assurance that I’d have enough material to play around with to make it to at least 50k, so. It was an option.

And in the end, I choose fanfiction because NaNoWriMo has given me five original 50k+ manuscripts and none of them have ever made it through the editing phase, so maybe it’s time for a change of pace. After every NaNo victory, I’ve said I’ll edit it, I’ll edit it, this year for sure, I’ll edit it! And it hasn’t happened yet. All my insecurities regarding original work come to head and the words collect metaphorical dust on my hard drives. But hey, fanfiction.

Fanfiction is “just” fanfiction. It isn’t expected to be good, right? It isn’t expected to be respectable. It’s a guilty pleasure. We’re a self-depreciating lot, fanfic writers. We know perfectly well that there’s a ton of talent in our ranks and that the community produces some damn fine work, but there’s no denying, either, that there’s plenty of trash. So even we have the perspective that fanfiction is “just” fanfiction. And it’s okay for it to be bad.

You give yourself a lot of allowance when something is allowed to be bad though. So with that in mind, I kind of hoped that writing a fanfic for NaNoWriMo would let me actually make it through the editing phase and actually, gasp, share it with people?

NaNoWriMo progress chart 2013

If I had gone with Lehelle or a pantsed project this year, my goal would have been 75,000 words again, but while I figured I would be able to come up with enough stuff to fill 50,000 words of AU fic, I didn’t think I’d have enough for 75k, so once I picked my project, the word goal got revised down.

kiriskaI didn’t write much the first day because I was still figuring out a lot of stuff in my head regarding what I wanted to do with the AU idea. I didn’t really write an outline, but I did scribble out some basic plots and subplots I wanted to cover on the 1st in lieu of getting much actual writing in. On the second day, I had Jet City Comic Show (con report pending). The next few days, I made up for lost time and tried to get some buffer in before a house guest arrived to stay from November 6th through the 10th.

My pace was pretty similar to last year, even if my word goal was lower, with some heavy writing days here and there and occasional two to three day stretches where I don’t write at all. I didn’t have a specific rival to push me, but I did still try to keep myself ahead of most of my other writing buddies. This year had one of the tamest Week Two of Crushing Despairs ever though. I think choosing to write a fanfic helped mitigate motivation problems I would have otherwise had, in part because I had a large cast of characters to work with which I was already familiar with. For almost all of my personal projects, I fall into the trap of having two or three main characters I know well and a lot of secondary characters I don’t know well at all, and not knowing them paradoxically keeps me from wanting to write them — so when I get sick of writing my main characters, I get sick of writing, period. With Free!’s ensemble cast, I was able to change up POVs a lot, and that kept things fresh for me.

Most years, a majority of my writing comes out of word sprints where I time myself for 10-15 stretches and write as much as possible in that time. It goes back to gaming the competitive side of me, as I try to beat out my own word counts per session. (The record stands at 692 words in 15 minutes, which I managed in 2010.) This year, I didn’t do many sprints at all. Fandom is a good enough fuel on its own, it seems.

I like how these things always make it obvious who the main characters are.

I like how these things always make it obvious who the main characters are, though wow, Nagisa, how did you wheedle you way up to such a huge name? (via Wordle)

So yeah, I finished the fic. I feel okay about it. It isn’t the best fic I’ve ever written, but I think its length automatically means there are more things I don’t like about it.

I’m again intimidated by the number of things I want to edit already, but I’m still hoping that it being “just” fanfiction means I’ll be able to power through and edit it anyway. And I’m going to edit in December. No more of this putting it off until January thing, because obviously that hasn’t worked for me in previous years either. I gotta ride this fandom high while I can, too. Finishing early means I have these few days of buffer where I can take a break from thinking about it, at least.

I’ll aim to have a first chapter online around New Years (conveniently a Wednesday…) with subsequent chapters posted weekly on Wednesdays ’cause I’ve been missing Free! Wednesdays since the show ended in September, and I know the rest of the fandom has too. :P Hopefully editing will work out. It’d be a first, and then maybe next year I can knuckle down with Lehelle again or Shoot the Moon and do it right or something. Wish me luck. o_o

NaNoWriMo 2013 Badges

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