NaNoWriMo 2014 Update — Week 2

This week was an important week for me. It was the last week that my mom’s out of town, which means it’s the last week I don’t have to drive to pick my daughter up from daycare. Starting Monday, I lose at least 2 hours of free time per weekday. So we’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, the good, the bad, and the excerpt.

The Good

We had a Winter Storm Watch advisory on Thursday, and we were supposed to get between 4 and 6 inches of snow according to national weather services. Local meteorologists were less optimistic (or more, depending on how you feel about snow) and were thinking maybe an inch or two. Both forecasts called for a majority of the snow to come in the afternoon.

So despite waking up to absolutely nothing wintery, I decided to stay home that day. After all, my job involves a lot of working for other people and four people out of thirty had “braved the weather.” It was the worst snow day ever. I saw a few snowflakes once. What that meant was I got mostly an extra day of writing in! I also passed 25,000 words two days early, and got more retweets and favorites on Twitter than I ever have before. So that was cool.

I also met some people via Twitter involved in Susan Dennard’s forum who are actually up as late as I am (and on PST, like me!), and we’ve had nightly sprints all week, which is when I’ve been doing the majority of my writing.

My story’s hardly turning out like I expected to, but I’m loving the changes and thrilled about where it will go as I polish and revise next year!

My total word count as of the end of November 14th was 27,062, for a total of 12,949 words written this week.

The Bad

I am so. freaking. behind. on my freelance work. It’s insane. I feel terrible about it, too, every time I decide to write instead of edit. And in good-news-that’s-also-bad, dissertation season has started and I’ve been getting a lot of requests. Thankfully, all but one can wait until at least December first. But my December will be crazy busy, too.

Quite possibly from stress, I got so sick this week. Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I just had a really bad cold and couldn’t breathe. Not that that’s any fun or anything, but so sick is passed-out-on-the-couch-can’t-eat sick, and I wasn’t that sick. (It was part of why I stayed home for our sNow-pocalypse.)

I’m still a little behind my personal goals, but I caught up a lot, and I tend to write about 1,500 words a day, which means I might even make it to 50k after all! (Wait that’s good news. oh well.)

The Excerpt

Choosing an excerpt this week was a lot harder. I hope the voice is consistent with what I showed you last week…

In this scene, they’ve just left an Alaskan Native shaman, who could’ve told Trey what his real death date was, but chose not to. Yes, the spelling of Hayleigh’s name changed. Anyone have a preference? Y or no y?


“Talk about pointless,” I say to Hayleigh as we make our way down the hill. “Was he really what you were looking for? Was that conversation what you decided I should spend my last day doing? I should’ve stuck to my original plan.”

“Which was?”

“Self-portraits until I found one good enough. You know how they have the huge pictures enlarged at the funeral?”

“You were planning on spending your last day taking selfies?” she asks, incredulous.

“Not selfies. Self-portraits.”

“Remind me the difference.”

“Self-portraits are… wait. I guess people would say selfies can be artistic. Well, self-portraits capture… never mind. Um… the quality of the camera.”

She laughs. “That’s really what you wanted to do with your time? Nothing else?”

“I’ve already done everything else.”

“You hadn’t taken a walk through the sleet to find a shaman, or pet a moose, or hitchhiked with a crazy trucker.”

I hate it when she makes sense. I’m dying. I have every right to be right. Shouldn’t she just defer to me for the next ten hours or so? It shouldn’t be that hard. “Well? What now? Go home?”

“I don’t see why not. There might actually be cars on the road by now.”

“Which way to the road?” I ask, looking around. All I see is trees and more trees and dirt and one lonely squirrel. He scampers up a tree before I can point my camera at him.

She shrugs. “Down.”

“Will you ever tell me why you really decided I needed to live?”

She kicks loose rocks out of her way as we head downhill. She winds her way through the trees so comfortably, swinging an arm from one place to another as she goes. I envy her ease. “I don’t know. Probably not. It’s stupid.”

“You’re right,” I say darkly. “Me living is completely stupid.”

“That’s not what I meant.”

“I know. But you’re not wrong.”

“I thought you were ready to live.” She makes it sound like dying would be a personal assault against her.

“It’s not that simple,” I say. I don’t know what I’m ready to do. I haven’t slept at all in nearly thirty-six hours. I haven’t slept well in weeks. Maybe months. Mostly I’m ready to lie down and take a nap. I don’t know if I could get away with that, though. Could I still die in my sleep? I haven’t ruled out a heart attack, either. “Your brother told me something before he died.”

“Something he never told me?”

“I think so. He talked about ghosts. Did you two ever talk about ghosts?”

“We talked about what happened to your soul when you die. Did you know that in Russian Orthodoxy they don’t believe that a soul goes straight to heaven? It wanders earth for forty days. You’re supposed to make it a home to live in while it waits to ascend to heaven. I keep looking for Hunter. Wondering if I can feel him.”

“You can’t,” I guess. She shakes her head. “I’m not surprised. Why would the soul hang around? To make sure everything is going well? To see how their loved ones handle coping? To re-visit their favorite places before they go on? Hunter didn’t need to do any of that.”

“What are you talking about?”

“That’s what he told me. That he thought ghosts disappeared when expiration dates appeared. That they used to be real things but they aren’t anymore. Because when you know when you’re going to die, you don’t have any unfinished business left to tie you to earth. You’re just… ready.”

Hayleigh pauses, squats down, picks up a rock. She throws it down the hill. Hard. “You’re ready to die?”

“I thought I was,” I say. I don’t elaborate. It sure would be easy, though. To be done. I am ready for oblivion. Or heaven. Or hell. I’m ready for forty days of wandering earth as a bodyless soul, although I’m not sure I believe in that either. But for the first time in my life, I don’t know if easy is what I want after all. “It turns out living isn’t so bad.”

“What would happen to you if you live?”

“I imagine I would keep breathing and eventually die anyway.”


How’s NaNo going for all of you?


  1. Wow, I love your story! Very well written and compelling.
    NaNo is pretty good. I’m way behind but that’s what I expected. I’m just glad to be writing a lot more than I usually do. 🙂

    • Thank you! Yes, I think NaNo is excellent for keeping you writing, even if you don’t reach anywhere near 50,000 words in one month. My first Camp NaNo, I wrote 20,000 words and I was super proud of that. 🙂 Good job on writing more!

      • Teen Nano is an awesome thing! I really can’t imagine doing this while in school. At least my work stays at work. 🙂 I didn’t write more than 5,000 words for the same story until after I graduated college, so I commend you.

  2. You’re kicking NaNo butt!
    We also had a winter storm warning last week, but we only ended up with 7 inches (which is not really anything for us in MN,) but my sis got a snow day from work! (only because the roads were super icy and bad)

    • Thanks, Sarah! I am enjoying the butt-kicking part. 🙂

      It’s so weird how different parts of the country handle snow. You shrug off 7 inches, and half my city shuts down just at the threat of snow… although to be fair it was the threat of freezing rain followed by snow followed by freezing rain, which really really really would have sucked…

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