My NaNoWriMo experience

Posted by kate Poels on Wednesday, December 7, 2016
November started for me with the NaNoWriMo writing challenge.  I decided to go for a story that had been knocking around in my head for a while, a re-imagining of George Orwell's 1984 for a modern MG audience.  Great, I thought.  The over use of screens for the modern child is current and the possibility of them being used by an evil force to control the kids in an Orwellian way might be quite an interesting concept.
I got a few thousand words in, planned the entire thing in more detail than I've done before (there were story maps, spider diagrams, pages and pages of notes,) and then it occurred to me that I wasn't sure if this was a story I would legally be allowed to do anything with if I finished it.
Sure enough I e-mailed the very lovely Juila Churchill who works at the agency representing Orwell's estate and it was a very conclusive NO! He has not been dead long enough for 1984 to be in the public domain which means it can't be touched for another few years.  So that was that.  Shelve that one and start to panic as I had essentially wasted the first precious writing days of the NaNoWriMo month.
Fate tends to play a hand in life though I think and the need for a book made me pick up something else I had begun in the summer but only ever managed the first three chapters.  I had sent those chapters and a synopsis off to the SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators) for a competition and then forgotten about them.  Now was their time to shine. MIMA MALONE AND THE MAD BAD INVENTOR was the result and I really loved writing  that one.  The story flew and halfway through the month I had my completed first draft.  The only trouble was that, being MG, it fell a long way short of the 50,000 word count needed to finish NaNoWriMo.  In fact I was only halfway there.
So for the first time ever I had to put something I had just finished to one side and begin another project so that I could make the word count.
BROTHERHOOD (the second story) couldn't have been more different and the transition was really difficult at the beginning.  I went from writing 1st person, present tense, funny fiction to a story about homelessness and family turmoil written in 3rd person, past tense.  My brain didn't know what to do with itself when I began the second project so I had to leave it for  a couple of days and then come back when it had had a chance to re-boot!
For a while I didn't think I could pull it off but, literally hours before the calendar flicked over to December, I hit the word target.  Around 25.000 for MiIMA MALONE and a little more for BROTHERHOOD.
I put the whole thing into the official NaNoWritMo number cruncher and it came back with a very VERY satisfying banner telling me I was a WINNER!!! It felt brilliant, I had done it! 
The entire experience for me was such a positive one.  Not only did I end up with two new completed manuscripts I can work on but I proved to myself that I can step up to a challenge and find the perseverance to get to the end regardless of what comes along on the way to try and trip me up.  
I'm already looking forward to next year's challenge....Maybe I should go for three books next time?......