Last year, I jumped into National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in the hopes of washing myself of self doubt and depression resulting from years of struggling through a novel that just wasn’t working. The challenge of writing 50,000 words on a new project — something fun and exciting — was meant to help me shift away from a need to achieve the perfect novel (or perfect for me, anyway).
Writing last year’s brought the joy of writing back. The Monsters I Keep is apocalyptic YA horror novel about a teenage girl trying to survive in a world full of monsters. The way the novel was shaped allowed me to tell the story in shorter snippets (more aligned with how I write as a poet). The story presented it’s own challenges, but it was also a pleasure to write, providing a world I was eager to dive into.
It was also a story that I didn’t finish. Last year during NaNo, I managed to write some 40,000 words. Over the course of the following year, I added several thousand more. The first two parts are fairly well drafted, but the third part, the conclusion needs to come together.
Last year, when I started The Monsters I Keep, the world was a different place. I wrote the first two parts of this novel before COVID and all the chaos that 2020 has wrought.
Now, looking back on the themes of isolation and facing off against a world full of monsters hits a bit different. Turns out, I have new levels of personal emotional experience to draw from.
As I start in on part three of my character is coming back to people. It seems strange somehow — after experiencing everything this year has had to deliver — to be writing the section of the novel that’s about coming back to hope.
Then again, maybe it’s the perfect time to be writing about hope.
Good or bad, I’d like to finish The Monsters I Keep. It will still be only a draft, one that will need significant amount of work to make fully readable. But if I can pull this off, then it will be first full novel draft I’ve completed. That would be an amazing accomplishment.
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? How is it hitting different for you?