Nanowrimo 2021

It’s been a whole year since I have finished the first draft of my first YA Fantasy. And it’s been a whole year and counting since I have revisited it. I had hoped to start the editing process in January of 2021, but with the pandemic changing everything, it enabled my family to move to a new home in December of 2020, so life got a bit too turbulent for me with all the change (and excitement of being able to hang out with people again especially in our new home!) to settle back into a writing/editing routine. Excuses. I know! I hear it.

Here we are, one year later, and I’m excited to start my 4th Nanowrimo. I don’t get to 50k words every year. I usually get to 25-40, but I have no regrets, because hey, it’s always better than zero words! Last year I finished my novel during Nanowrimo. L

With a first draft begging to be re-read and edited, I am still unsure about what to do with my Nanowrimo time. Do I dare start a new story when the last one was such a epic mountain to climb and has yet to even be turned into a masterpiece? Or do I use this time to explore other ideas and create something new, now that the pressure of finishing a book is finally off the table?

With these questions swimming around in my head the last few weeks, I have decided to spend this week exploring new options, all the while sharing my thoughts, findings, and words every day here in this space. And hopefully coming up with 1500 words a day. Here are what I see as my options over the next thirty days:

1) Edit my YA Fantasy. I re-read it, and then spend time cutting out the icky parts and replacing them with the good stuff. Or just cutting them out altogether. I think this option will be tricky because I am really not sure how I would trace my word count. But I do know that somewhere in the middle of the story I have a gigantically monstrous gap with some lazy line that says *description of game goes here.* I didn’t want to waste more time dreaming up a new Quidditch game for my book instead of just finishing the thing. I figured I would have more time for that sort of contemplating in the editing process, and if not, I would just cut it completely. I don’t remember it was necessary to the plot, but I like to think that Editing Emily will figure that out and make it work. She’s so smart. And industrious.

2) Write a story live in this space. Every day, I would add 1500 words and some sort of plot to make a story, totally pantsing it and making it up as I go. The tale might change, it might have a course, a plot, a plan, a strategy, or it might just be what I want to happen to my main character that day. Is she having a good day too? Or is she miserable and stuck in a bind and we will just have to wait and see how she fixes it the next day? Maybe it will take a few days to play out. I like the idea that this also could be a space where I just write and practice getting ideas, plots, and characters out of my head and onto the page without worry about editing myself…or them. It feels like a scary option, because what if I change my mind halfway through and wish my main character had the established ability to be invisible and that’s what the story needs to be more interesting and keep moving. Alas, it feels just as scary as Option 1 and trying to edit a project during Nanowrimo.

3) Outside of Emily the Author world, is Emily the Interior Designer.  Both of these parts of me share a love of creating and experiencing different worlds, spaces, and realities.I think it is why I travel as much as possible, feeling that deep pull to see all the places I have never been before and experiencing that desperate feeling that there just isn’t enough time in my life to do it all. Thank God for books and stories!

I love all kinds of magic, weird sci-fi planets, and cozy small towns that you’d love to hate to live in. I even love getting lost in the realities and thoughts of a deeply complex character and her ticks and systems. I’ve lived in Hogwarts, sea communities, steampunk cities, southern small towns with vampires, Mexican gothic mansions, spaceships and stations, African villages full of voodoo, forests full of folklore, and remote islands with Demigods. Amazing. There is no way I could experience all these places without having stories too take me to them.

It’s my favorite thing about Fantasy and Sci-Fi authors. The way they create worlds and allow those reading to join in and escape into their vivid imaginations. It’s so vulnerable. It’s like, “hey strangers, please enjoy these weird ideas I have about how a world could be or could not be.” A big thanks to you all who continue to have new ideas and the courage to share them with the rest of us!

I love how diving  deeps into someone else’s world is one of the best ways to develop your empathy and gain such a diverse amount of perspectives. This keeps you open-minded and allows you to enjoy all the rich fullness and amazing-ness of everything, without bring your preconceived small world-mindedness to the table.

As an interior designer, I’m in love with the way a room or space can give you a whole new experience. Like walking through the gates into Disney World. It is truly like no place on Earth. And without gobs of money and the ability to withstand crowds, crying children, and obnoxious parents, we don’t get to experience cool places like it very often. As an interior designer, I want to create small spaces that we can enjoy like that. My favorites right now are hotels and restaurants. Especially their bars and bathrooms.

When designed well, they transport you to an intentional feeling, time, place, idea, etc. The good ones allow the food to be center of attention for sure, but the lighting, the fabric on the curtains, the seats, the floor, or the wall coverings, the beautiful furniture pieces, the carefully selected table accents or bar glasses change the atmosphere and prepare you for what’s to come. The tiles that glimmer in the sconce’s glow, or the unique, unforgettable crystal chandeliers you tell your friends about the next day contribute to the overall experience, which would sorely lacking without them. Imagine trying to enjoy the same meal in a barn. Or in a noisy warehouse that echoed every time you put your fork down.

Some spaces even go as far as to take you somewhere specific, like a forest, or a country, or a castle to evoke a specific experience. For example, I n a seafood restaurant all the elements of the room might have wavy lines or rounded shapes, or similarly, a hotel by the sea might include a beach palette of colors and incorporate driftwood or sand into the design. A Mexican restaurant will adorn the walls and furniture in dark cherry woods and bright wall coverings to evoke the feeling of their culture.

Interior design details don’t work singularly, the way white candles don’t automatically mean you are at a wedding. But all together – mixed in with intention, design, and planning – details and setting of a space can tell a story.

For this option, I would spend the month of November exploring world building, in writing and in interior design. This would include visiting new spaces and writing about them, working on my visual storytelling and world -building, figuring out a way to make them both more intentional and impactful just by practice.

This is obviously my favorite idea of the three, and one that I think will give me the most opportunity to play and learn and grow. I think I might even weave a bit of Option 2 in there if I feel moved and start a few stories based on the spaces I visit.

Oh that’s it! I will make up a story for all of my most favorite spaces I visit over the next month. I’ll visit at least two each week, and give the room/space/city/whatever a story that is pulled from the details of the whole experience. What a fun study and exercise, especially since I’m headed to New York tomorrow! By the end of Nanowrimo, I will have a better understanding of telling a story with interior design, and a better practice and grasp of descriptive world-building. I will have eight different stories (at a minimum), and hopefully…50k words.

Awesome. Thanks for joining me on this journey and swimming with me through my stream-of-consciousness while trying to figure out what to do with my writing and creativity over the next month!