• E.R. Donaldson

NaNoWriMo 2020

Last week I made a brief mention of NaNoWriMo. This week, I’m devoting the entire post to it. So, here’s the story:

What’s NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. Every year, in November, writers all over the world stock up on coffee (or booze… no judgement) and take to their keyboards to pound out a novel-length work. According to the rules of the program, this is a work that is 50,000 words in length or more. That works out to roughly 1,667 words per day, every day, all month long.

How I got involved. I’ve heard about NaNoWriMo ever since I was scribbling stories in spiral-bound notebooks back in high school. Don’t judge – the early 2000s weren’t advanced enough for us all to have laptops and tablets at our desks back then, so we did what we could. I hadn’t given thought to NaNoWriMo from 2006 to 2017 as I went off to college and pursued my career.

Then something happened in 2017: I changed careers. Though I left my job because of the stupid amount of stress and the ridiculous number of hours I was working, a strange thing happened: I had free time. I had just finished up my MBA, and I had gotten used to using all hours of the day and night for productive time. But, having finished my second graduate degree, I’d found a newfound interest in completing challenges. So, what did I decide would be my next goal? I think you can guess the answer.

Wait, that was three years ago. What’s happened since then? This is a legitimate questions. I’m aiming to have my first novel published next January. What’s happened since then?

I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo – and won – every year since 2017. My first work was a book called Harvest of Souls, which was set in the Nethra Universe and even featured the same characters as my current work. However, there was a problem. Like most people’s first novels, it was terrible.

After three re-writes over the next year, I finally accepted this work was unsalvageable. However, I thought there were some interesting points from the original concept that I could work with. This is where I started a concept called Vandal, which would be a story set with the same characters in the same universe, that would take on a much different trajectory.

Vandal left me inspired. I felt like I was on to something, but I couldn’t encapsulate the concept in a 50,000, 100,000 or even 200,000 word work. This is how the Chronicles of Nethra was truly birthed. I worked my way through the architecture of the story. In its original conception, this was a dense and rushed three-volume sage.

Then 2019 rolled around. I still didn’t think what I had was good enough to publish, so I started again. This was where Star Spire was born. I had a new architecture for the story, a slightly more experienced hand at storytelling, and the determination to make this work. This was the time that I felt like I’d generated something I could work with.

So, what about this year? In the month that followed NaNoWriMo 2019, I continued to work on the series. Star Spire had now FINISHED the editorial process, and is set for publication in January 2021. I’ve also scheduled drafts of Shadows of Minos and Darkest Hearts for revisions early next year. That leads me to this year. This year, my project is book four: Stardust Grave.

I’ve included a snap from my NaNoWriMo profile in case anyone wants to look me up. Note, it’s under my real name, not my pen name. (Only using the pen name because I’m published in academic literature under my real one. Don’t want anyone to get confused.)

Are any of y’all doing NaNoWriMo? If so, good luck this month!

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