How #NaNoWriMo led to becoming a published author

Posted 4 October, 2015 by DLWhite in Writers Write 0 Comments

It’s October, much to the joy of all the people I know who love sweaters and boots and pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING. For writers, October marks the crescendo of rumblings about preparing for November and the annual writing event National Novel Writing Month.

Interested in joining millions of writers for a month of mad writing? Sign up at http://nanowrimo.org/.

I know, I know. Pubbed authors think Nano is stupid, pointless and could really mess up a good manuscript. Agents and editors cringe and a feeling of dread overcomes them as they anticipate the glut of unedited 50K word novels that are about to hit their collective inboxes. To them I say… ram it. #sorrynotsorry. I see far more benefit to participating in NaNoWriMo than drawbacks. It’s one month of concentrated writing. I simply refuse to see the negative there… so save it.

I said all that to say… Nano could be a huge stepping stone for a fledgling writer. The goal is to write. To WIN, you must reach 50,000 words. Whether or not that is a COMPLETE draft is up to the writer, but all you have to do to win is write. The goal is difficult enough that all you’re thinking about is hitting that goal. Not if the words jump off the page, not if the prose is too purple, not if you should name your planet Valeria or Valouse… those are details that you tell yourself you can fix in editing, because YOU DO NOT HAVE TIME TO MESS AROUND.

That’s the whole point.

In 2009, I decided I was going to do Nano. I had an idea for a project from a memory of watching a movie with my mom. At the time I was heavy into fanfiction, so my Nano project that year was a romance/drama called Same Time Next Week where two people– one a former celebrity, one a woman on the run– meet up once a week for fun, erotic dates. When he ‘catches feelings’ it causes problems for her because she has a past that she doesn’t want him to know about.

I DID win Nano that year. I hit 50K words rather quickly, around the end of week two. I am verbose (I end up cutting a lot when I edit, but I’d rather cut than add) and word count has never been an issue for me.  However I did not FINISH this novel until about a year and a half later. I had written myself into a corner, solved all of my conflict before the end of the story and had to go back and UNDO some things and go at it again.

The resulting story is something I’ve come to be quite proud of. It was a big hit at the fanfic archive and I was told, by several people, that I should revamp it into a novel. I was flattered, but wasn’t sure how that would work. So I shelved it for years.

I went back to a project I had been working on for years… Brunch at Ruby’s. I was stuck stuck STUCK on that novel.  I wanted it DONE by my 40th birthday, so I hunkered down for another November, tore the book apart, started over from another POV and wrote, wrote, wrote. I did WIN Nano that year… but again I did not FINISH that novel until the following year.  I did complete it by my 40th birthday. :)  And on my 41st birthday, I published it!

After Ruby’s came out (and I saw much more success with it than I expected) my mind once again turned to my first Nano project. I wanted a back list and I wanted to pub an Interracial romance. I’ll be honest, the genre is HOT and I wanted IN on it. I had a story already written, it just needed some finesse. So I took it apart, made a character Afro Cuban, cut cut CUT a lot, added some elements and pubbed it in July 2015.  It is SPICY… but I love it.

This month, the fanfic archive where my writing career begain has bestowed a MOST AMAZING HONOR by making Same Time Next Week- the original NaNoWriMo version- story of the month for October. I am honored, floored, flattered, BLESSED to always be a part of this amazing community. I am hoping that some of my counterparts and writer friends at NSYNC-fiction see this post and are encouraged and inspired by it. It started with a germ of an idea and blossomed into much more than I ever could have imagined.

SOME OF YOU are aching to step out past fanfiction. DO IT.

In 2009, if you would have told me that I would have two books (and one short story) in publication, that I would be a published author, that I would be DAILY making my dreams come true, I would have called you a LIAR. But here I am. And here YOU could be as well.


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