good morning, cyberspace!
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I suppose I should have seen this coming, since nothing I plan ever goes quite like how I want it to, but I can’t say as though I’m disappointed with the very sudden turn of events my life–most specifically my writing life–has taken.
Do you guys remember how I mentioned very recently how The Plan for Camp NaNoWriMo 2021 was to finish the first draft of Project Goblin? A draft which I was already upwards of 30,000 words into? The draft of which I was confident I could finish within a single month?
Lol. Yeah, that plan flew out the window towards Neverland and hasn’t been seen since.
So, as it turns out, I’ve been struggling with writing this book for a couple months now. As a Plantser, I never truly know where the story is taking me until we get there–that’s part of the fun and mystery of writing for me–but I am familiar with the gut feeling that what I’m writing is wrong. Somehow, inexplicably, I can feel when what I’m writing isn’t what’s supposed to be written, and this division between my conscious and subconscious completely stalls the process.
And for the past two months or so, I’ve been feeling this exact phenomena. Day after day I’ve sat down to write, only to find myself staring at a page half-filled with words which don’t feel true to the story I’m trying to tell. And day after day I’ve wondered if perhaps there was something about this story that I’m missing. But the stubborn writer inside of me decided that this was just a phase–that if I just kept pressing forward, I would eventually hit the rhythm that I’ve been searching for.
Unfortunately, I can now report that this did not happen. I did, however, find something a little bit better.
I found an epiphany.
I don’t have these rare moments of brilliance often. In fact, I’ll confess that I typically only have one true moment of complete genius per book–if, of course, I even have one at all–but every so often, usually at the peak of frustration, all the pieces I’ve been struggling to fit into place finally click together. Suddenly, everything that was once foggy and uncooperative is perfectly clear. And that is precisely what happened with my smol trash gremlin, Project Goblin.
I was sitting at Pizza Hut, scribbling down a list of the story’s main cast members in a tiny notebook with a garish pink pen, when all of a sudden I had this beautiful, mind-boggling epiphany. An epiphany so shiny and perfect and new that I immediately began scribbling down ideas for it, completely ruining my linear character chart and ignoring my sad slice of pizza as it sat steaming on the plate in front of me.
All thoughts of food were gone; there was only room in my head for a single thought.
“they’re off to see the wizard”
Except it isn’t a wizard they’re off to see, but a goblin. And they weren’t going to ask for something they never had, but what was once stolen from them.
Despite the fact that “they’re off to see the wizard” really has absolutely nothing to do with the new direction of my book at this point, it still serves as the main epiphany moment, and is therefore my battlecry as I set off on this brand new reinvention of the story before me. 30,000 words of Draft Zero were stuffed away in a separate drawer–potentially never to be seen again–and I am now working from a brand new document, titled Project Goblin 2021. (I’m very clever with naming things, you see.) I’m about 2 and a half chapters in, my main character is finally (oh my WORD IT’S HAPPENING) starting to act like an actual human, rather than a cardboard cutout that just sort of wobbles around the world I’m building from scratch, and–best thing of all the things–I’m finally excited about this story again. That thing I thought was missing has finally been found, and I no longer have to question whether or not I should press forward or head back. I have direction. I have inspiration.
I finally have hope for this mess of a book.
And in honor of the fact that I
completely ditched everything I’ve written for the past five months lolololololol finally have direction, I thought it’d be fun to finally reveal everything inside of my NaNoWriMo survival kit! Because I promised if I got around to it, I’d share that with you all, and I figure this will be a NaNo quite desiring of a survival kit if ever there was one before. (my sanity ditched me like five days ago and hasn’t since returned, so.)
kenzie’s camp nanowrimo survival kit — 2021 edition
Some of you may know this, others may not–my laptop’s name is Greg.
I do not, despite popular belief, tote around a singular man named Greg where’ere I go for writing inspiration. If, however, your name is Greg and you would like to apply for the position of part-time writing assistant, the fact that your name is Greg will probably (not) give you an edge on your application.
ii. usb drive
I haven’t backed up my novel in about five months. This is actually a terrible decision, and I wholeheartedly recommend NOT doing this if you’re planning on making any considerable sized dent in your manuscript this month. XD
Please, please–if you have any sort of consideration for your novel and time at all–buy a good (emphasis on GOOD) USB drive and backup your novel. Frequently. Once a day is good, but TWICE a day is better, especially if you’re writing a lot.
Many years ago I went through this phase of using adorable animal-shaped USB drives, and every single time my novel got corrupted and I lost thousands of words.
It was awful. I soon despised that penguin and octopus, let me tell you. So while the dark, stick-shaped drives at Best Buy might SEEM boring and unassuming, sometimes that’s precisely what you need in order to make sure your manuscript is safe.
Don’t trust your book to an octopus, friend. I beg of you.
iii. story-themed notebooks
Even though I tend to write my books on my laptop, it doesn’t feel like I’m actually writing a book until I have a story notebook to go along with it. everlost had a bunch of wide-ruled school notebooks–bits and pieces of story and plot bunnies scribbled out across them to the point where finding what I was actually looking for was somewhat of an impossibility. Project Sunset had a single squatty journal purchased specifically for that project. (the theme color for the story was yellow, and therefore I obviously needed a yellow notebook) And Project Goblin has an adorably wonky looking thing which I got from one of my coworkers as a birthday/parting gift when I left my last job. So, in order for this month to be a success–or, at the very least, survivable–I’m keeping this notebook close at hand for any moment when writing on a screen just won’t cut it.
Sometimes you just need a good stack of paper and a pen in order for the thoughts to start flowing, and when that time comes, it’s a lot easier to have a notebook already squared away for that exact purpose than to start asking random strangers in the restaurant for their napkins and half-chewed pens.
iv. pens & pencils
To go along with the notebooks, you always need a fresh assortment of pens and pencils to keep your creativity flowing during a high-stress month such as this. In fact, I would highly recommend beginning your collection of favorite writing instruments sooner rather than later, because those things have a nasty habit of disappearing right when you need them most.
v. project playlists
I recently got Spotify Premium with my family–hello, no ads!–and oh my goodness, I’m obsessed with making playlists! Most of them are for my drives to work or actual work (we get to play our own playlists over the speakers. it’s phenomenal), but quite a fair few in my dragon hoard are handcrafted playlists perfectly tailored for my books. The ones I’ll be using the most this month are for The Girl and The Goblin King and Project Sunset, since those are the stories I’m currently working on, but blogospherical is another well-loved music set which will be used quite frequently. XD
vi. my writerly muse
a.k.a. my smol bird friend, Durachi. I think the majority of you know by now that I have a cockatiel, but I think I fail to mention just how integral he is to my writing life. Durachi is incredibly helpful during the drafting process. He’s very patient with me when I start daydreaming during play-time, and exceedingly helpful with choosing which pens and pencils to use.
The scary ones, of course, get thrown away. (my hunch is that he can sense when they have no creativity left inside them, and therefore that makes them frightening. which, I mean, same. XD)
vii. my kindle
Since I’m going to be reading and taking notes on Project Sunset this month, I kind of need something to read it on. And since reading it on my laptop will only make me want to go in immediately with a red pen and edit All Of The Things, I’m going to read it on my kindle instead. This way, I can train my brain to see it in actual ebook format, rather than “writing” mode, and the only remaining danger is accidentally setting my entire kindle on fire out of sheer embarrassment and having to buy a new one from Amazon!
viii. reading material (for when I’m stuck)
I recently stopped at the library and picked up an embarrassingly large stack of tomes to read when I get creatively stuck, so hopefully these will get me through those annoyingly depressing dry spells….
(and also I hope I can renew these because there’s NO way I’m gonna read them all in two weeks….)
ix. an assortment of snacks (for when I’m hungry)
Aside from the typical chocolates and candies, I’m also going to start squirreling away tea and Dr. Pepper. Because sometimes you really just need a caffeinated boost to get you through the writing day, and there is truly no caffeine boost like that of the Dr. Pepper…
(I also work at a coffee shop, so for the most part I’m set on tea. In fact, I should probably stop drinking so much of it when I’m there. XD)
x. a good dose of dedication, persistence, and just a singular ounce of sanity
To be fair, I usually don’t have a whole lot of either of these at any given time, but I’ve learned that if I’m very, very careful, I can typically find a little bit of each if I try hard enough.
The sanity is entirely hit or miss, though. I never know if I’m going to have my head when I wake up in the morning, but by golly, I’m officially getting good at going throughout my day headless. At this point, I should probably move to Sleepy Hollow or something.
talk to me, peasants!
And that, my friends, is my Camp NaNoWriMo update/what’s inside my survival kit! For all my fellow Wrimos out there, what sorts of things do YOU put inside your survival kit? have your camp nanowrimo plans altered at all since the start of the event? and have you ever had an epiphany so wonderful and huge that it made it physically impossible for you to eat pizza? (this was a first for me, and I’m genuinely curious if it happens to anyone else.)
As always, let’s talk about All Of The Things down in the comments below, and until next time…
*flings cookies in the air and disappears*