Monday, October 17, 2016

Announcing My Novel for NaNoWriMo 2016

So there's this novel that I've been blogging about writing since literally June 2013 - over three freaking years ago. In fact, as of right now, I have blogged about it exactly 16 times, including for the first time I participated in NaNoWriMo.

Pictured: too many rewrites.
Yet, in all of those posts, I only mention the title three times (most recently in January 2014), and that's not even the title I've been working with for the past couple years. Additionally, if you searched through all of my blog posts talking about the novel, or even read its synopsis in my 2013 NaNoWriMo, you'd have trouble articulating exactly what it's about. Sure, I revealed a few details here and there, but those were back before the massive amount of rewrites I did. Even then, all the details I had released online amounted to nothing more than "some college girl sleeps with a married man and then something complicated happens."

Well, a lot has happened since I last posted about that novel, and as a result, I'm willing to reveal its title and synopsis.

Here's exactly what happened:

The Long, Painful Journey of Realizing I'm Doing It Wrong

Sometime early this year, after three years of planning, writing, and rewriting, I finished the first draft of that novel. Just a month later, I took to rewriting it almost completely from scratch, but as the year wore on I began to lose faith in the story as a whole, going so far as to almost completely throw it out and move on to some other project.

I admit now that I was going about the rewrite all wrong by starting from scratch without even going back to look at the first draft; I was so hard on myself for what I perceived as the shortcomings that they clouded my vision and I failed to see any of the genuinely good-quality writing that was hidden within the original draft. I was so clouded, in fact, that I was determined to remove what I would later realize were key, quality, entertaining scenes.

As should be expected, it was someone else who set me straight.

I was having lunch one day with my talented poet friend, Kathrine Yets, whose delightful works have been featured in the likes of StraylightWoodland Pattern Book CenterRiver & South Review, and Blue Heron Review, when we inevitably got around to talking about my novel. You see, Kathrine and I have been friends since college, where we bonded in large part due to our mutual interest in raw, unfiltered, honest writing. Because of this and the fact that we're always genuinely eager and interested in each other's work, Kathrine has been my go-to person whenever I need advice, critique, or someone to brag to about an accomplishment or new idea in my writing. While she doesn't know absolutely everything about my novel, she's read the original short story, seen the first outline, and read and helped me to shape large portions of the first draft (and I can't thank her enough for all of that).

So we were sitting there, eating our overstuffed pita pockets while talking about my novel. I told her that I was incredibly dissatisfied with how the second draft was going, that I hated the first draft, and that I wanted to change this character and that scene.

"You're getting rid of that?" she asked, eyes wide with disbelief. "I loved that part!"

I was immediately caught off-guard. The only person I'd been consulting on the quality of my own writing for several months had been myself, and I was not a fan. However, hearing someone else be honestly upset at my artistic decision was only the beginning of her slapping some sense into me, because shortly afterwards she dropped this wisdom bomb on me:

"Never listen to your inner critic; that’s what other people are for."
-Kathrine Yets
This phrase stuck with me more than similar sentiments from dozens of other people had, because not only was it the solid advice I'd heard before but never really believed ("you're too hard on yourself") but because that part was immediately accompanied by the comforting notion that this is not solely my burden to bear. The immediate sensation upon hearing these words (after a moment of dumbfounded silence) was that of the cliché elephant being lifted off my shoulders.

Shortly after this meeting, I was able to look back at my first draft (a feat in and of itself) in a whole new light, unburdened by my inner critic. I was able to see the moments of real quality writing, and more importantly I was able to shrug off the muddy bits that had been obscuring my vision for almost an entire year.

As November approached, I realized what I had to do:

NaNoWriMo 2016

working cover designed by myself for NaNoWriMo
This year for National Novel Writing Month, I am pleased to announce that I will be completing the second draft of my novel, titled Nothing But The Boots.

Nothing But The Boots follows Mandy, a neurotic college girl in a casual sexual relationship with a married man, as she begins to fall in love with his wife.

The book is a continuation of a short story I wrote in college, titled "The Other Woman," which featured Mandy narrating from a closet, where she was forced to hide completely naked to avoid being discovered by her boyfriend's wife. In the novelization, free-spirited, boot-loving Mandy pursues her romantic interest in the wife of the man she's sleeping with, completely unabated by the social stigma and traditional rules of relationships. In doing so, she deals with the repercussions of going against the grain as she fights for what she believes is her right as a human; to pursue true happiness in whatever form it takes.

To prepare for this year's massive 50,000 word challenge, I've uploaded the original draft to my e-reader and have been steadily reading through it during my lunch breaks to find what worked and use that as a foundation.

Aside from the 50,000 words in a month thing, the goal is to develop a coherent second draft worthy of sending to agents and publishers.

Wish me luck!