On 'losing' NaNoWriMo for my own good.


I love National Novel Writing Month. My first participation and my first ‘’win was in November 2010 when I wrote the development draft of a novel then called “After Africa” which became “As Long As She Lives” and my debut novel. I haven’t done NaNo every year — last November I was deep in editing and learning what I needed to about self-publishing — but every year I don’t do it I envy those who are. It’s wonderful to experience having colleagues from all over the world, and colleagues who are filled with unadulterated optimism and determination to succeed. For a whole month the forum is your workplace water-cooler and everyone is talking about getting those words down and finding those story solutions. I was particularly looking forward to participating this year. In the three months since launching As Long As She Lives, I’ve struggled to prioritize time for writing/developing my next project over learning about marketing a self-published book (and finding it rather trying to my soul — blog post coming) and dealing with some extreme fatigue and chronic pain I couldn’t pin-point and so in true Aussie style dismissed as a need to ‘just get my act together’. I decided NaNo would be the catalyst for ‘pulling my socks up’— I’d set aside everything else for the month, focus properly and delve in to my new project once and for all.

On October 28th I committed to NaNo and ‘created my novel’on the NaNo site. On October 30th I learned that in fact my fatigue and my pain was very real and I was booked in to have surgery 14 days later. My main concern? Could I still I finish NaNo?

Over the next two weeks I took it easy, promising myself that if I could ‘just’ create that ‘perfect opening scene’ it would be a spring-board from which all cause and effect with unroll with ease after I had my surgery.


It’s now 12:05 am on November 15th, about 30 hours after surgery and I’m back home, propped in my reading chair instead of my bed, because getting into bed after having had four probes inserted into your abdomen and an organ removed through one of those holes is excrutiating without motorized folding matresses. My brain is blurring in and out of lucidity thanks to the pain killers I’ve been sent home with and I’m thinking that maybe, just maybe, it’s okay to ‘lose’ NaNo this year.

I’m still determined to begin my new project by the end of the year, in fact starting it on New Year’s Eve would be symbolic to the work itself, but I can do that without going hell-for-leather through November. Instead, I’ll take it slowly as I recover over the next weeks, quietly building my foundation for my next project (which you may have gathered is not a standard novel and which I’m excited to share with you as soon as I can) and spend the rest of my NaNo being a support for my fellow writers and wishing you all ‘ganbatte’ for your NaNo with all of my heart.

So, ganbatte and love to you all.