I have been participating in #Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month) since 2012, at which time I started a novel with the working title of You Can’t Go Home Again. I promptly finished that novel in November….of 2014. (Hey, they didn’t say it had to be November of the same year, did they?) At that point, the damn thing was a 176,000 word first draft, so I put it in for Nano credit because damnit, I deserved something after writing that long of a first fucking draft.
Subsequent efforts at Nano-ing have not met with great success, although I usually conclude that I got more writing done than I normally do in a month, so I accomplished something. To be fair, although I have not actually written an entire novel in a month, I have definitely written 50,000 words in a month. This seems to only really happen right after I get fired, though.
In 2014, the hellhole (retail store) I worked at finally closed on November 15. As much as I needed the lousy $10.25/hr pittance I was making there, I was so fucking happy to see that store close. I mean, it wouldn’t have been such a bad job if it wasn’t for the customers. In fact, it was an idiot customer who inspired the world for one of my books.
In February of this year, I lost a job I liked—well, okay, I really just liked the money, but still, I liked it a hell of a lot more than retail—and was replaced by a couple interns. That was on February 12, two days before my birthday, because nothing says happy fucking birthday like a termination letter, but anyway, I did a sort of mini-Nanowrimo after that. I had about 20,000 words on the novel I was plodding through at the time, so after I got kicked to the curb I said, “Fuck it, I’m going to finish my book.”
I did finish Fail to the Chief on March 4th, and my first draft was 72,222 words. (I learned my lesson with that book two years ago. No more obese first drafts for me. Do you know how long it takes to edit a 176,000 word first draft? Too fucking long for me.) So technically I kind of did my own Nanowrimo there, and although I feel like I’ve already done my Nano for the year, I guess I’m doing it again.
Why do I do Nano? The same reason I write the rest of the year, I guess. To express myself. To say all the sarcastic shit I couldn’t say when I worked in hell (retail) because I needed the lousy $10.25/hr. As an outlet for all the stress and frustration I feel, as an unemployed, two-time college graduate and epic failure who lives with her parents and still struggles to pay her bills every month while trying to earn something resembling a living as an internet reseller. Because I’ve been running in socks with holes in them since last year, I’ve been shaving my legs with the same disposable razor for even longer, I’ve never been able to afford a real vacation as an adult, and I live in fear of a car repair ruining me financially, but damnit, I can 50,000 words in 30 days and not everyone can do that, so maybe I can be proud of something for five minutes. (Unfortunately, I can’t my bills in pride, but whatever.)
My time in hell (retail) also inspired my current Nano project, a book about a parallel universe. (You know I’m right if you ever worked in retail.) I actually began writing this book six years ago, while still working in hell, after a particularly long and frustrating day during the back-to-school season, when a customer let her SIX bratty kids throw merchandise at me and didn’t ONCE tell them to stop. (Please, PLEASE, don’t have that many kids if you’re not going to make one ounce of effort to discipline them. Seriously, either commit to teaching them acceptable social behavior or get your tubes tied. Don’t let them throw shit at a cashier and stand by doing NOTHING.)
So, anyway, I started writing this short story about a bratty kid who gets abducted by aliens during the back-to-school rush at a store. I never knew how to finish it, so I didn’t. Earlier this year, I came across that story on my hard drive, and thought about finishing it. I didn’t do much more than think for a while, until one day I remembered I’d always wanted to write a parallel universe story, and then I had an idea for finishing the story without the alien abduction. Instead, our miserable cashier gets transported to a parallel universe, where she no longer has to put up with unruly brats and their worse-behaved parents.
So here I am, plodding along and trying to get to 50,000 words by the end of November. I had almost exactly 10,000 when I started, so I figure if I write 50,000 I should be finished with the book, or pretty close to being done. (Like I said, no more 176,000 word monsters. Never doing that again.)
What inspired your #Nanowrimo novel?
W. T. Fallon is the author of Fail to the Chief, a political satire in which the presidential election is carried out via reality show, which is almost as bizarre and far-fetched as our current reality.