Wrestling with my Nanowrimo Project

Nanowrimo has my official initial participation date as being the November of 2007, making this my seventh attempt. The truth is, I’ve been joining the throngs of crazed writers during the month of November since I first read about it in a newspaper. (You remember those don’t you? They were large folded, rolled, and stuffed into a plastic tube archaic items that used to bring the news of the day into our homes.)

Nobody knew about my participation of course. I was a closet writer. I don’t even think I had a computer, just scribbled longhand on spiral notebooks, the ink pen housed in the curly wire banding the pages together. I’d stuff the whole thing in the magazine rack or under a sofa cushion when anyone entered the room.

On days I wasn’t inspired to write or had reached a section I wasn’t savvy enough to press through, I’d count the words, jotting them at the bottom of each page with a slash between the total for the page and the running total.

By December I’d usually have half to two-thirds of the required 50,000. Eventually, I informed my family of my decision to join up , and with accountability, came close that first year.

I learned the importance of preplanning a couple of years in. And once I began to achieve the goal, I upped the challenge to writing in a new (to me) genre each November.

Friendships, love stories, paranormal, intrigue, mystery – it’s all accompanied me through past Novembers. Last year the big challenge was young adult. Although it was new and different, resulting in words no twelve year old boy would likely use (sluice for example), it came together nicely and frankly, was much better than I expected it to be.

This year I’ve been wrestling with the story knocking feverishly at my brain. I have been refusing it entry.

No, I will not, I answer.

But it has pushed every other thought out of my head, possessing my creative muse, crossing its arms over its chest, smirking through pursed lips. It defies me not to listen. It has wrapped its long fingers around the neck of every other idea, choking the life out of its possibility of existence.

Yes, you can and you will, it answers back.

So, here I am. It is November. I signed up for Nanowrimo 2013 weeks ago. I must write something.

Memoir writing is a strict discipline. It has to be handled carefully and thoughtfully, though not as strictly as one might when calling such a thing an autobiography. It is about the subject’s memories, feelings, and impressions, understanding that two people can share an experience and come away with wildly different perspectives of what happened.

But when suicide and mysterious accidents run through the family line as inherently as blue eyes and straight teeth, there has to be fallout. Although I would rather not free-fall into the abyss, I have already discovered something new and important. Perhaps the only way to break the dark clouds is to push insistently through them.

I’ll try to keep you updated. I’ve added a widget to the blog to show my progress. If I’m absent for a while you can at least see that I am writing something.

Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

Renee Johnson is the author of Acquisition, and The Haunting of William Gray.  She is currently working on a Young Adult novel, while editing a suspense novel which has international flair–an homage to her love of travel and foreign food.  She lives on a farm in North Carolina with her husband, Tony Johnson, and one very spoiled German shepherd named Gretel.   

About reneejohnsonwrites

I have recently returned from University of Iowa's Novel-Writing Intensive during their Summer Writing Festival. Other credits include two stints at The Essoyes School in France, two terms at a writer's residency at Noepe Center for Literary Arts on Martha's Vineyard, and a retreat in Italy. Join me in 'writing the world.' -- Renee Canter Johnson, author of "Herald Angels", "The Haunting of William Gray", and "Acquisition" published by The Wild Rose Press. Coming soon--an international intrigue set in Venice, Italy--where adventure and danger are as masked as the characters.
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31 Responses to Wrestling with my Nanowrimo Project

  1. aFrankAngle says:

    Cheers to your persistence. Good luck!

  2. Good Luck!

    You have more energy and spunk than me 🙂 Xx

  3. Elyse says:

    Good, good luck!

  4. Best wishes on pushing through it! Our thoughts will be with you and will look forward to your next post when you’re ready.

  5. Once those whispers become nagging shrieks, you might as well sit down and write them – you will be constantly distracted and redirected by them until you do. Shuffling and kicking through the fog eventually clears the path – even if you never do anything but write it down and put it away. Just write and breathe. You can do it!

  6. rangewriter says:

    Your subject sounds consuming and daunting. I certainly wish you luck as you delve into the mysteries of the past. I found that the only way I could take the memoir I was working on seriously was to fictionalize it. I simply could not navigate through all the detritus of those whose lives were entangled in the story and would either be hurt by or scoff at my very personal perceptions of reality.

    • I know what you mean. And I probably would not consider offering this one for publication. But the time is right. Things I’ve discovered have already cleared up one person’s path and another is starting to become a lot less foggy.

  7. Patty B says:

    It is a big challenge, but one I know you are up to – wow 7 yrs doing this. Prayers for your success!

  8. TBM says:

    I do wish you luck and it sounds like you have an emotional task.

  9. You have my admiration for even attempting this. People often say I should write a book/memoir but, like you, there are things that have happened that can open up a world of hurt for other people and I have alway shied away from doing that. I wish you all good things as you attempt to do this.

  10. megtraveling says:

    You can do it and I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress!

  11. I am impressed. But I think resistance and resilience is the only way for a writer. Keep up the spirit – and good luck!

  12. Always an inspiration to see someone following their passion. Thank you for the recent generous thoughts on my comment section. Today, it my fundraising day- last Soccer fall game with my son. Could hardly sleep, not sure if from excitement or from still thinking about the Philippines. My son thought about sharing Legos and created spinners and costume troopers. So happy and proud that he is passionate to help. He went home to the Philippines last year and had an amazing time with his cousins. He felt for himself why after 11 years in America, part of me stayed in my country of birth. It is up for us parents to teach our kids to care, share and give to those in need around the world. No matter how small, our children sees our positive example. Thanks and God bless.

  13. Sheila says:

    Good for you that you’re pursuing (or maybe being pursued?) writing this story! I’m not sure I’m disciplined enough for this type of endeavor, especially in the month of November! I’m always impressed by your account of the struggle to meet the word count…think this is my third year to follow your progress. Wishing you success, by whatever measure you interpret that mark! And maybe one day we’ll get to read your memoir! ~ Sheila

  14. Clearly you are passionate about NANOWRIMO. I can see your persistence growing out of this passion. I wonder however why you use the word, ‘struggle’. To me passion is all about the journey, never about the destination. How can the journey make you struggle?


    • Thank you for the comment Shakti. To answer your intriguing question, I can only say most journeys of self-improvement involve a bit of struggle. It can be uncomfortable. Just like climbing a mountain peak, if it was easy, we wouldn’t learn much from the process. My son’s coach used to discover which exercise each of his players liked least, and then assign it. He said the thing we are least fond of is the thing we need most. We call it getting out of our comfort zone.

  15. Ursula says:

    My dear Renee, today is December, 3. Just sayin’…

    Assuming you haven’t typed your finger tips to the bare bone and the paper tiger hasn’t torn you apart, the pencil sharpener having given up the will to live, I take it your next post is in the making. That was a roundabout way of saying that I miss your musings.

    Advent greetings,

  16. dearrosie says:

    Hi Renee,
    I see from the banner at the top that you did it! Congratulations! I’m really really really impressed.

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