NaNoWriMo mug

NaNoWriMo Halfway Point

Heading to a Berkeley cafe to write after voting.
It's November 15th today. Halfway through November, meaning it's also halfway through National Novel Writing Month / NaNoWriMo.

I turned in the next Jaya Jones novel to my editor in October, so while she reads it this month, I'm using NaNoWriMo to experiment with a new project. I don't know yet if I'm succeeding, but I've got close to 30,000 words of a story. That puts me slightly ahead of schedule to reach 50,000 words by November 30.

Yes, 50,000 words isn't a full novel, but it's the number of words in the NaNoWriMo challenge, and it's a great number for a first draft!

I know a lot of people don't get it. If I'm a writer, why can't I write whenever I want to? I know a lot of writers can do that every day of the year, but that's not me. And it's not just because I have a day job. I love my day job, so it doesn't sap energy from me. But it takes a lot of focused work to write a good novel. The collective energy of NaNoWriMo gives me the staying-power to throw myself into the difficult stages of a new project and write every day, even when it's tough. Once this messy draft is done, then I can work at a more sustainable pace to turn it into something good.

I learned something else a few years ago. Even with my own study at my house, I can't write at home. I know it's psychological, so every so often I give it a shot. Last weekend, I sat down at my desk to write... and promptly got up to cook a delicious winter squash soup and chilled lentil cucumber salad. Sigh.

Green smoothie in my NaNoWriMo "Novelist Fuel" mug.

Luckily, I've got a lot of local friends who will meet me at a cafe to get a couple solid hours of writing done with minimal chit-chat. 

And when my friends aren't free, there are NaNoWriMo write-ins. The gatherings are listed by region on the NaNoWriMo site. I've gone to a few of them this year, and I've never left with fewer than 2,500 words, not to mention having had some inspiring conversations—though never too much talking, because we're there to write!

A NaNoWriMo "write-in."
Now it's time for me to sign off and get back to writing. If you're doing NaNoWriMo yourself, don't worry about how many words you've got right now. Just keep going!

Writing and Gardening

This month, I've taken a step back from my the frantic pace I was keeping in anticipation of my first novel coming out at the end of the summer.

At the start of the year, one of my biggest resolutions was to keep writing fun. I've done a good job at sticking to that, but stress began to creep up on me as my "to do" list grew longer and longer. There's a long list of logistical set-up and an endless amount of promotion you can do for a novel. I had to take a step back and remind myself what I want to get out of writing. It's not optimizing sales. It's having fun writing good stories.

It's been almost a year since my cancer diagnosis turned my life upside down, a long enough time that it's easy to slip into old habits, such as working through lunch or stressing about getting the right reviews. But you know what? I'm no good at being stressed out. It's the antithesis of my personality. I'm done worrying about getting everything "right" with book promo. I'm back on track enjoying life's moments.

I'm still working hard, but I'm choosing to focus on things that are also fun, such as a joint writing project with two fantastic authors, and doing a photo shoot for an author pal who's updating her website. And I'm spending more time enjoying the garden (to be fair, it's the husband who does the gardening; I just keep him company and take photos of his work!). Here are a few garden photos.

Below, my NaNoWriMo mug with a green smoothie made in part with veggies from the garden: kale and cucumber with avocado, green apple, and cacao flakes for sweetness and caffeinated kick. Yum. (Seriously, YUM.)