Writing a novel is difficult. You know what’s easier? Writing about writing a novel. I’m all about finding the path of least resistance, at least during the month of November. More turkey legs, please! Don’t stint on the sparkling apple cider. Are those mashed potatoes or quick-dry cement? Who ate all the stuffing?
Mmm. OK, getting back on track. I’m going to attempt to keep a journal for the duration of NaNoWriMo 2022 so I can look back fondly on this hurricane of creativity. Without further ado, let’s go!
The previous two days are empty. Why? Because I only just decided to keep a journal, numbskull! I’m not going to retroactively add two days’ worth of entries. That would be wrong! Against the rules! And extra work.
OK, OK. I’ll just write “Nada” and “Zip” for the first two days and call it good. Happy now?
So. Today is off to a lousy start. I discovered that Pages “ate” or lost 560 words from yesterday’s final writing session. Cue the frantic Google search for how to recover lost drafts on Apple devices! Apple’s help topic described a setting under the “more” button to browse system backups. I opened the “more” menu but couldn’t find the backups option. Unless I’m blind, Pages for iPad and iPhone does not have this feature. Instead, I powered up Pages for Mac and found the feature lurking inside the File menu under “Revert to an earlier draft.”
Thanks for the lousy directions, Apple. After about a minute of waiting, a Time Machine-esque window appeared and provided a visual timeline of backups for me to browse. The most recent backup was timestamped at Tuesday, 9:27 p.m. I remember staying up writing until at least 10:30 p.m. because Erica walked out of the shower and asked me to feed Olivia. A husband tends to remember his wife wearing only a towel, hair freshly washed and skin glistening. Ahem!
Right. Where was I? Oh yes, the First Great Literary Loss of NaNoWriMo 2022.
Part of the issue is that I enjoy writing across three devices: my phone, my tablet, and my computer. Apple’s iCloud service is responsible for keeping my files synchronized. Sadly, it drops the ball more than half the time. Today’s loss was due to writing on my phone the previous night and trying to resume on my tablet this morning. The tablet had an earlier draft, which overwrote the copy on my phone, which hadn’t actually been saved yet because… because the autosave feature took a coffee break, I guess.
It’s 2022, people! It’s lovely that autosave saves automatically, but is it too much to ask that you include a “save” button? I save my work incessantly on my computer. It’s muscle-memory at this point, built into my left thumb and middle finger. Command + S! Done. Easy-peasy. Why take away a valuable feature?
And another thing! If Apple’s going to tout its awesome auto-syncing feature across multiple devices, at least check to see which open draft is most recent! If there’s any doubt, give folks the chance to choose which draft to keep and which to discard.*
* Editor’s note: Since writing this, I’ve found that Pages for Mac will ask which version I want to keep; still not seeing the option on iPhone or iPad.
Argh. This seems to happen every year. In 2020, I wrote my novel exclusively on my MacBook Pro and still nearly lost my entire story thanks to a hiccup with Pages. Luckily I printed hard copies. Unluckily, my printer ran out of ink halfway through but still managed to ruin dozens of pieces of paper with random smears and splatters.
Double argh. Don’t get me started on the frustration of accidentally deleting whole paragraphs in Apple Notes! I have lost so much work using Apple Notes, only to see the auto-save timestamp update immediately after the purge. They don’t even provide an undo button!
As great as technology can be, I really do loathe it sometimes. The NaNoWriMo website is a hot mess of inconsistencies. When I started this year’s project, it deleted all of last year’s data and used last year’s book cover as a placeholder. What in the world? So I deleted it, effectively erasing proof of my participation in 2021. Lovely.
OK, I feel better now that I’ve ranted. The scene I lost involves two Russian soldiers in Siberia who discover a meteorite fragment. It was a delightfully weird scene filled with language jokes, but alas that draft is toast. Here’s hoping the next draft is still fun.*
* Editor’s note: Although I rewrote the scene beat for beat, it doesn’t carry the same comical rhythm.
No entry, apart from this statement, which I suppose counts as an entry.
Ah, the weekend. Time to catch up on those remaining words. I always imagine this is going to be easier because I’m not working from 7:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m. (or until 7 p.m. as is often the case). I have total access to my phone, tablet, and laptop. But the truth is that I spend time more liberally on the weekends than during the week. I’m less regimented because I think I’ve got mountains of time and can do some writing whenever I desire. It’s like that saying about finances—when you have less money, you spend less. When you have more, you spend more.
I did manage to catch up and surpass today’s quota. That’s a good feeling.
Yesterday was Thanksgiving, so I wrote like a fiend in the morning. I’m about 10k behind. I feel confident that I can maintain my current pace of 1,500 words daily, so I expect to reach 40k by the end of the month. Then I’ll keep writing into December or beyond until I’ve wrapped up the story. My mistake last year was stopping cold turkey when the month ended (Thanksgiving pun not intended).
What a rush! November has got to be the worst possible month for this challenge. I did succeed in reaching 40k words last night before 10 p.m., at which point my brain stopped functioning.
I was sitting at the dining room table, typing away, trying to read back what I had written in an effort to stay awake. Sadly, it didn’t make any sense. My brain was incapable of stringing words together. That’s when I decided I should probably go to bed.
Monica had been over that afternoon and offered to watch Olivia for us. We were only too eager to send off our little bundle of joy into grandma’s arms! Our baby has been… what’s the word? She’s been exploding lately—new ideas, new words, learning to walk and trying to run. Her sleep pattern has been like a Rorschach test. A year ago, Olivia was just this tiny little bundle of blankets! She woke up a lot, but she slept a lot. OK, enough whining.
NaNoWriMo is done for 2022, and I’m a bit sad. There’s a palpable excitement writing when you know thousands of other authors are doing likewise. For a month, I feel like I’ve joined an enormous family of creatives who are half insane, typing like frantic monkeys to write a novel. It’s a difficult challenge but an awesome challenge. I love it.
The beginning of the journey is filled with wonderment. Anything can happen! Fifty thousand words feels like it’s lightyears away. No need to worry about wrapping up threads, landing the ending, resolving character arcs and all that. Just total freedom to stretch out my arms and scribble. I’m sure this would be a nightmare for many people. For me, it’s joyful delirium, an escape from life’s responsibilities. Vacation for the brain, if you like.
As mentioned earlier, I’m going to keep working on “The TALENT” throughout December and into January, or until I complete the first draft. The main plot has been solidified, but I still have a lot of scenes to write. I need to bring clarity to what’s happening. Most chapters have been isolated from each other, making them easier to write, but it’s time for them to converge. I doubt 50k will be enough to tell it all; 75k seems like too much. Perhaps 60ish? We’ll see.
I’ll close this journal with a work in progress (WIP) design for the Hexagon, the secretive government organization responsible for assembling the TALENT. I’m also sharing graphs from the NaNoWriMo website detailing my progress. These graphs always tell an interesting story.
Folks, it’s been a wild, enjoyable, stressful, sleepless, hair-pulling ride. Uphold the write!