Life After NaNo…

(In the vein of Life After People on The History Channel)
By Axie Barclay

Day One After NaNo: You feel shocky, and a little disoriented. What happened to November? What am I supposed to do when I sit down at my computer? What’s up with all this extra time? Treat yourself to a coffee (decaf, sweetie, you’ve been running on Swiss Rolls and caffeine for a month, go slow) and just breathe. It’s probably been a while since you paid attention to your own breath.

Day Two After NaNo: Check in on Facebook (or actually call people on the phone gasp!) and reacquaint yourself with conversations that don’t involve word count, POV, or protagonist. Try eating someplace other than in front of a Word document.


Day Four After NaNo: Wake up from wine-induced stupor/ Christmas panic. I won’t judge if you find you are not wearing your own pants.

Week One After NaNo: Life slowly returns to normal. Word count falls back into regular pace, you start reading again, like actual books, not ones with “Baby Names” (for characters, geeze) or “Ultimate Guide to…” in the title. (Or maybe you actually research fly-fishing for fun; again, not judging.) You slowly rejoin the workings of normal society after trapping yourself in your brain for a month.

Week Two After NaNo: There’s a nip in the air and Salvation Army Santas on every corner. The last time you checked, Halloween candy had just gone on clearance. Then there was something about a turkey, or in a turkey, or something to do with a turkey, you’re not sure, but you do absolutely know that it involved a preposition.

Week Three After NaNo: You can barely comprehend how on earth you managed to scavenge out enough time to work on a hundred words a day, let alone pound out 1666.6. There aren’t enough hours in the day to check Facebook, watch a Netflix, holiday shop on Amazon, bake Christmas cookies, wrap gifts, lie to the kids about a fat man who likes kids coming down their chimney with gifts and candy (who at any other time of the year would be arrested for these things, but anyway…) Your long forgotten novel languishes on your laptop and once in a while winks at you like an illicit affair of a long-past November…

…And so it goes. NaNo ends and the holidays begin and you wonder where on earth that month got ito. It might have been brutal, it might have been tortuous, but damn was it fun to push the limits and see how much writing you could get out of yourself.

At least that was my experience.

I learned that I can produce a lot of words a day at little burden to my family, which has become a major consideration. I also learned that it often takes a lot more words than it did when I was younger to get to the meat of what I want to say. And I learned that writing a lot and writing fast is addictive in its own way, and that there needs to be a balance between writing fast and hot, and writing well.

But, technically, I am a NaNo failure, and I’ll tell you why.

  1. I didn’t write a novel.

I wrote a sketch of a novella and worked on two other stories that were due on Dec. 1. I also wrote journal entries, blog posts that somehow never got posted, partial essays, story sketches, and things of that nature, that in no way convalesced to form a novel. But I wrote 50K words in November. So I call that a win.

  1. I started on Oct 30.

I’m a busy lady. And Thanksgiving has always been my stumbling block. One cold, one flu, one sick calf, and it could have overturned the entire applecart. I wanted to make sure I had a couple cushion days. Did I write for 30 days? Yes. Were they consecutive? Almost. I’m calling it a horseshoes and hand grenades issue.

  1. I didn’t lose my mind.

We joke a lot about NaNo being brutal, and living on coffee and sugary confections for a month. Maybe some people do, I don’t know. But I already live on coffee, so that’s out. And regular sleep and meals make for better brain food than doughnuts and Skittles. So there were some days I went to bed early instead of completing my word count. But that’s ok; I got it the next day. Because, as a buddy of mine learned the hard way, three five-hour energies do not make fifteen hours of sleep.

That should wrap NaNoWriMo for me this year. It was fun and I learned a lot, especially about my own writing routine and limits. It’s important to know your limits. Sometimes you might even pleasantly surprise yourself.

Book Recommendations:

Write. Publish. Repeat. By Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. Nonfiction. I listen to a lot of podcasts. Like a lot of podcasts. Or did before losing my iPod, having issues with my Kindle, and breaking my Droid all within about five days of each other, right before the Christmas rush. (Grr.) Anyway, if you like writing advice that’s funny and R-rated, these are the guys to listen to, on The Self-Publishing Podcast. (Also see Unicorn Western, if you like westerns written without one iota of research and pink gun smoke.)

Dark Secret Love by Alison Tyler. Literary erotica. Just in time for the holidays, kink your kindle, kick Christian Grey to the curb, and pleasantly distract yourself from Aunt Nell’s latest episode of foot fungus. I absolutely loved this book, and Alison Tyler’s writing in general. My friend said that this book showed her how to communicate her needs in a relationship. Sounded like high praise to me.

Desecration by J.F. Penn. Thriller. Another author I found through her podcast, Joanna Penn is the creator of The Creative Penn podcast and pens (pun intended) dark thrillers. This is her latest novel and I thoroughly enjoyed it (reading it, oddly enough, while giving the Offspring his morning bottle… remember the no judging from earlier?) Her characters are realistic and her narrative is tightly constructed with a believable storyline. It’s amazing how many books can’t say the same.

I’d wish everyone a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, but I hate all that crap and am just hoping to wake up from a long winter nap sometime after all the tinsel is put away, without mistletoe stuck someplace embarrassing. 😛 Here’s to 2014 everyone!!

Axie_Barclay_100Axie Barclay is a Michigan writer with a cow-habit. Having discovered the joys and potential for growth inalternative agriculture, she quests ever longer and harder for ways to combine farming and writing into a business. When not milking cows, making disgruntled noises at the latest disgusting thing the heeler dogs dredge up, riding horses, or keeping the fence up around her small beef herd, she’s holed up reading an eclectic array of books or tapping out pages. When not working, she enjoys kicking back with her honey, family, and friends at a bonfire with some beers. Chat her up on Twitter and Facebook, /axieb, or where she delves into literature and agriculture with a relish… and occasionally ketchup. Soon to be homemade.