Following All the Cool Kids

After publishing my first full-length novel just two weeks ago, I foolishly thought I’d immediately get into the plotting and writing of my next book. I was so wrong. Instead, I’ve been trying to re-incorporate back into my life the things I’ve neglected while trying to finish my novel, such as managing my stock portfolio, exercising regularly, and improving on my broken Spanish. My brokerage accounts, terrible posture, and my Spanish-speaking husband deserve better attention!

As I’m starting to plot Book 2 halfway through “Preptober,” it makes sense that I participate in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, this November. The objective of these thirty days is to write 50,000 words, which works out to be approximately 1667 words a day. Writers all over the world join with the goal of hitting that crazy word count, and those who’ve been doing it religiously for years insist it’s super fun.

I participated in NaNo once before fifteen or sixteen years ago (I think I signed up, but I’m not sure). I wrote about 300 words of what I thought would be an amazing idea—until I saw that it was going to be major garbage. I didn’t think the premise through nor did I plot it out. I knew nothing about writing a book back then, and I was far from being mentally ready to write 50K on anything.

Despite that half-baked attempt, I consider myself a NaNo Novice, a new kid on the block. I don’t know what to expect other than logging in my daily word count. I don’t know how NaNo writers interact with each other, but I hope to meet other writers of contemporary fiction in this process and maybe make some new friends. That’s one of my aims. The second is to write more than I ever have in such a short amount of time. And the third is to log on social media my progress, not just to be publicly accountable, but to get over my awkwardness of social media. I’m not an anxious person at all; in fact, you could diagnose me as an outrageous extrovert who prefers an introverted life. But I am socially reluctant around posting on FB and Instagram. I want to get over that, and maybe even become good at it as I also try to become a faster and better writer.

A typical novel will have around 80K words (Book 1 was 83K). I hope to have some of Book 2 written by the time I start NaNo so that I’ll have completed my first full draft by the end of it. We shall see. I might only write 20K after all is said and done. I’m not giving myself a way out before I even get started, but I know how life works. Shit can happen, but the point is to have a goal and try to make it happen regardless.

At the start of this year, I was looking for a book agent. As I waited for agent replies, I watched and listened to indie authors, and then changed my trajectory. Because I decided to self-publish, I published the second edition of my financial book, a novella, the first book of my series, and now I’m about to start the second book of the series. If I was still waiting around for an agent, my writing portfolio would be at a standstill, forever stuck at a partially edited draft of my novel. And now I’m joining NaNoWriMo to work on my fourth book this year, with all the cool, die-hard writers, because why not? No one but me is telling me what to do and who knows where something like this will lead me? All I know is that trying something new can show you that you’re capable of doing much more than if you never tried at all.

Author: Donna Fernandez

Author of contemporary fiction.