NaNoWriMo 2014 Update — Week 1

It’s been seven days since NaNoWriMo started, and an interesting seven days they have been. As far as the official tracker for word count is concerned, I’m ahead of schedule (the par for day 7 is 11,666, and I hit that word count on day 5), but I am behind on my own schedule.

Karyne introduced me to this wonderful program called Susanna’s Pacemaker, and I used that program to input my personal goal of 40,000 words. I put in parameters that I wanted to write more toward the beginning of the month and more on weekends. By that schedule, I should have 16,002 words. I actually have 14,113. So not bad, but not perfectly on track, either.

The Good

Being able to keep my word count nearly on track. I’m surprised at how many words I keep managing to eke out. When I’m focused, I am very focused. I’ve also had a few awesome things happen as far as plot is concerned (i.e., I very nearly have one!). I’m pretty much pantsing this time around (I have my theme and my premise, and I’m letting the rest of it fall into shape around those), so it’s nice to see a bit of progress as far as that is concerned.

The Bad

So far, I’ve done most of my writing in half-hour sprints. I can’t seem to stay focused for much longer than that, even though my daughter has been hugely cooperative and has been taking super long naps and going to bed on time. Instead, I have watched all 67 Behind the Team videos that USA Gymnastics has posted to YouTube (time wasted: at least 6 hours); gone through my photo albums and minimalized the bookshelf in my bedroom, including browsing old yearbooks (time wasted: about 2 hours); completed plenty of Facebook browsing (time wasted: at least 2 hours over the week); and made sure to check blogs that only post once a week multiple times (time wasted: unknown, likely at least 1 hour).

I worked from home three days this week, and didn’t do much writing during that time. And my daughter got her first taste of rice cereal, and lots of playing time. (Time wasted: absolutely none).

The Excerpt

Each week, I’ll post a little preview of what I’ve been writing. This week’s preview is from what’s currently the opening scene. Since it’s the beginning, you don’t get any context.

There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:

2     a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3     a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4     a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance.

We say “Amen” in unison. Hunter’s funeral is so predictable I shouldn’t have bothered coming. Everyone wears black. No one cries. No one except Haleigh, who’s sitting in the front row and trying to hide it. In front of the cross, the pastor takes another deep breath. I bet he’s about to start on Jesus. How he embraced his expiration date, and everyone else should, too. How Hunter was a Good Christian for pressing that gun into his chin.

Not that anyone but his family and me knows how he died. The obituaries come out a week in advance.

“In John 17:1, it says…” Here it comes. I grab my phone from my pocket and open the file called “My Funeral Notes.” For the love of God, don’t mention Jesus, I write. I’m aware of the irony. The pastor continues. “No one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.” It’s not like that verse even applies. People get run over by buses. They get in car accidents. Those funerals are sad. I get why people go to those funerals. You don’t have closure yet.

I’d been distancing myself from Hunter for weeks before his expiration date. He understood it; he’d been distancing himself from everyone, too. Haleigh hated it, but what could you do? Someone has to die earlier, right? Even if you’re twins.

“Treyton,” my mother hisses. “Put your phone away. Show Jesus some respect.” I wish she’d said to show Hunter some respect. I came to church for Jesus on Sundays. It’s Tuesday. Before I put my phone back into my pocket, I check the counter on the home screen. Four months exactly. Ugh. I might as well stop breathing now.

But Hunter and I are the weird ones. Most kids with expiration dates before eighteen are withering away. Cancer fights them. Muscular dystrophy. With four months to go, it should be obvious I’m expiring. It’s not. No signs of anything degenerative. Even my heart, which is enlarged, has been working fine. According to my life certificate, it was supposed to be my heart that killed me. But heart attacks happen in an instant. Maybe that will be it.

“Hunter Hoffman was a brave soul. He lived his sixteen years in obedience to the Lord, and I know we will see him again in heaven,” the pastor says. “Let us pray.”

We don’t stay long. The funeral started at 7 and my sister will need to be in bed soon. We shared all our memories of Hunter two weeks before he died, anyway. “Trey, wait!” Haleigh says as we near the doors.

I send my mom a questioning glance. She nods curtly. “We’ll get Leilani in the car. Hurry.”

“What is it?”

“Please don’t have a funeral like that.”


Well? What do you think? How are your NaNos going so far? Any passages you would like to share?


  1. Do you have any idea how much your writing has changed? That is fascinating. That’s not a rhetorical question, either.

    I’m not dissing your other work that I’ve read, but in terms of character already popping off the page, and a much fuller sense of character, and your voice as a writer, this is night and freaking day different. Better, richer. I am a little blown away.

    • Yeah, I’m aware. I think much of it is how much easier Trey’s voice came to me than Nadari’s did. To anthropomorphize them, Nadari was reluctant to tell her story, and Trey is embittered and angry.

      And thank you! I really appreciate the compliment.

  2. I’m glad that site’s been so useful for you! And I LOVE the excerpt. It’s so intriguing! You’re going to have so many opportunities to delve into really deep issues with this story. I can see why it’s been so intricately entwined with you grieving your grandmother. I hope you’re finding it therapeutic!

    • Thanks! It’s been excellent to have a different word count goal. Starting today, my weekday goals are below the NaNo goal, which is awesome. I should be able to start making up for the words I’m behind on.

      Glad you love the excerpt! There aren’t many scenes where the potential is shining through, but it’s giving me an excellent place to start. I can work through it again in revisions. And I am finding it therapeutic. 🙂

  3. Yeah, but i think you’re beating yourself up a bit on the bad. So you’re only doing half hour slots and then dinking around on the internet (she types this while her novel glares at her). That would be a problem if you weren’t getting it done, but you clearly are, so what you’re doing seems to be working. I say carry on with the youtubing!

    • I don’t mean to sound like I’m beating myself up about the bad. They’re all Things that are True, and things I could potentially improve, but managing to write 14k regardless makes me really happy. Considering the most I’ve ever written in one month on one story was about 25k, the fact that I now have nearly 20k is kind of insane. Half-hour sprints work really well for me, and I plan to continue them. 🙂 I’m aiming for two or three a day, though, instead of just one. I could do that, dink around between them, and still be in bed before 11, which would be an appreciated change.

      YouTubing has to give way to freelance editing, though. :-/ I let myself get pretty far behind on that. 🙂

      Thanks for the encouragement! And enjoy your own WIP!

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