It’s NaNoWriMo Preptime!

NaNoWriMo winner's certificate
My certificate for writing 50,000 words of a novel in November for the writing challenge called NaNoWriMo 2021.

It’s almost time for National Novel Writing Month. I’m on their email list and they’ve begun a six-week NaNoWriMo prep.

Last year was my first attempt at writing a rough draft of a novel during November. I did it!

But what I didn’t do was back up my manuscript. How or why? In any case, my laptop had a hardware issue and most of my files disappeared including my 50,000 word novel!

I called Apple and they tried for days to recover my files on icloud and my hard drive. No luck.

I’ve begun rewriting my novel and changed the point of view from one character to four characters alternating their stories. I’m at about 25,000 words. It’s added depth to the characters rather than viewing them from one perspective.

The emails from NaNoWriMo have motivated me to finish the manuscript. I’ll use their prep weeks to improve what I’ve written so far.

NaNoWriMo is giving me a second chance with this idea! I’m starting today. I don’t have to begin with a new idea. It’s just the push I need to complete this rough draft — again.

Have you tried the NaNoWriMo challenge?

Would you consider doing it this year with me?

What’s your point of view?

NaNoWriMo winner's certificate
My certificate for writing 50,000 words of a novel in November for the writing challenge called NaNoWriMo.

I’ve been thinking about the project I began for my first NaNoWriMo writing challenge. After the New Year, I plan to dive in and rewrite it. Currently, the story is told in first person of the protagonist who is loosely based on me. I’ve been musing about how I need to make the plot more exciting — but then I began thinking about point of view. I think that’s where I need to start.

The premise is three women and their young children who are peacefully enjoying their quiet lives when the antagonist, an eccentric, larger-than-life character, whirls into their lives creating drama and upheaval. I think telling the entire tale from one character’s perspective is monotonous. It limits the story, because you only know what one person sees and how they interpret people and events.

I dusted off Liane Moriarity’s “Big Little Lies” which I read years ago and discovered that the chapters are told from the POV of Madeline, Jane and Celeste — in third person. It isn’t told from one woman’s point of view at all. If you haven’t read it or watched the TV show, it’s also a story of friendships of mothers of young children.

When I first began writing years ago, my writing mentor Gerry Petievich who wrote “To Live and Die in L.A.” held writer’s conferences. He said to pick out a book as a pattern book when you begin to write a novel. He said you don’t copy it. What I took away from him is that you analyze different things that work in that book such as plot structure, voice and characters. I realized that “Big Little Lies” can fill that role for my project.

Gerry Petievich "To Live and Die in L.A."

I think by alternating the POV to each of the main characters, it will add depth. I’ll need to give each character their own voice and I’ll have to flesh out their lives much deeper than they are now — which currently are only snippets of their lives seen by the protagonist. I’m not sure if I should alternate first person voice or use third person omniscient point of view like “Big Little Lies.” I tend to favor writing in first person.

When you are reading or writing, what point of view do you prefer? First or third person? What is your opinion of books that alternate points of views of characters each chapter? Do you find switching POV is confusing or do you think it adds to the story?

Have you read “Big Little Lies” or “To Live and Die in L.A.?” Have you seen the TV show or movie?.

Big Little Lies book by Liane Moriarty.
Cover of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

I did it!

My first attempt at NaNoWriMo and I finished a day early — Nov. 29th. Woohoo! It’s a good feeling to meet my goal. I almost gave up this week with all the raw emotions running through our home because we lost a close friend.

I channeled that emotion and it powered me through the final words of my 50,000-word novel. It felt good to lock myself in an empty room and write.

The secret to NaNoWriMo is to not critique or edit, but just write. I know my plot needs work and perhaps a complete overhaul. There are few good bits to my novel including the characters and the settings. I’m planning on facing the editing process in 2022 after taking a break and getting distance from my work.

How do you feel when you reach your goals? What makes you give up when you decide not to follow through?

From playdates to playgroup, let the kids play


I wrote the following post my first year of blogging. I’m reposting it today because my NaNoWriMo novel is based on it. My project is called “The Playgroup” and is loosely based on the moms with their young children. In our neighborhood, my kids were the only kids. That’s true for most of Palm Springs neighborhoods. We had to arrange playdates before the kids were school-age if they wanted to play with other kids. One mom started what she called the playgroup and it was an honor to be invited to her exclusive group.

Toddler boy playing with a hose.
My son playing with a hose in the backyard.

When I was a child, I played in and out of neighbors’ backyards, rode bikes from dawn to dusk — with no adults bothering me.

When I had kids, they didn’t have that freedom. One reason was the lack of kids living around us. Another reason was a child in a nearby town had been kidnapped from his front yard and his body found 10 days later. That terrified the moms in our area for years.

I went to Mommy and Me class with my son at the Palm Springs Pavilion. A teacher, Miss Stacey, taught us to sing songs together and play “Itsy Bitsy Spider” and “I’m a Little Teapot” with a dozen other moms and babies that apparently needed the coaching.  Each week, we took turns bringing snacks of grapes or string cheese. I look back at this as a training ground for the proverbial playdate.

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Our playdates developed from the Mommy and Me group. We had a park day, which was fun and healthy. Moms sat together on quilts on the grass and talked for hours while our kids played on the now-banned steel playground equipment — a super tall, steep slide, a merry-go-round, and a stagecoach that they could climb into, on top of and jump off. Sometime during our kids’ early childhood, our city tore out the dated, dangerous equipment and put in a rubber ground and safe equipment. The kids never liked to play on the brightly-colored equipment and our park playdates vanished.

One day, I got a phone call from a friend. She homeschooled her daughter and was handpicking her friends for a weekly Friday playgroup. She hired a teacher to run playgroup, and each week included a lesson, a theme, craft and snack, followed by 10 minutes of supervised play on her backyard swing set. The moms were not welcome to hang out and socialize.

I felt honored my kids were in the select group. Months later, the mom who had playgroup took me to lunch and told me she had some “big news.” She was uninviting one of the boys. I hardly saw this is earth shattering, but perhaps there was more to this luncheon. Maybe it was a warning!

Years later, when my kids were in high school, they reconnected with friends from playgroup. They remembered it as if they were fellow Mouseketeers having survived a bizarre childhood experience.

When my daughter was in 7th and 8th grade, we homeschooled. Every Wednesday, I picked up her best friend from school, and brought her to my house to play until her mom got off work. This was another sort of playdate. We moms thought it was an ideal way to keep their friendship going. Since my daughter loved arts and crafts — homeschooling allowed her to try ceramics, mosaics, and quilting. I said that the two girls could do an art project each week.


But that didn’t happen. I was tired from supervising my daughter’s schooling by the time afternoon came and my daughter just wanted to hang out with her friend. So, I retired to my room and left them alone. After a few weeks, the friend didn’t want to come over anymore. She said she was promised an art activity and she was disappointed that they weren’t doing any.

Happy child at the beach.
My daughter during a camping trip at the beach.

That made me think about our kids and their overly structured lives. I love having quiet time. I hope my kids do, too. We need to unplug, unschedule, and let our kids regain their creativity and inner peace. They need us to leave them alone and let them be kids.

How was your childhood different from your children’s young lives? Did you have to arrange playdates so they could play or did they have friends who lived close by?