At the moment of writing this, I am failing at Nanocamp.
But that’s what always happens in April and July; I am very motivated for two days then suddenly all my enthusiasm and strength evaporates.
This time they even had word-count badges, but it didn’t help…
The “real” Nano is different though.
There I don’t abandon until my last breath, with Gabi, my writing friend we drag each other along. The fact that we are in it together makes this marathon writing process not only bearable but fun.
Some people are against Nano because they say you can’t write quality under time pressure. I beg to differ. Shakespeare wrote his dramas under pressure. Yes, the first draft is (probably) a mess, but at least you have a first draft to begin with. (I wrote a guest post about Nano here.)
It is actually the pressure that forces your brain to produce story, to see connections where you saw there wasn’t any. It is because of Nano that I came up with my signature move of embedded stories.
So let’s go through the long list of my Nano children.
I managed to win the very first Nano I participated in. I don’t have many memories of it, just that I dragged my bulky laptop with me every day and wrote furiously on the train during my commute.I worked in an office in a multinational company and I hated it, so we are not surprised that in my vision, Hell is a corporation.
2014: The Legends of Mona
I won this one too. Started out as Mona, the orphan of Europe. I’m still not sure about the title, we’ll see. I wrote it in London during my Master’s. I remember writing it on double-deckers, going home from the board game parties with my friends that I mentioned under the letter L. My favourite seat was first one on the floor, so that I could see the road ahead of me. I did walking tours in London and the clever things I learnt there informed my writing.
Bled out at 19 589 words. Have literally no memories of writing it. But at least I stuck with this one and have almost finished it. Fun fact: up till this point I did all my Nanos in different countries 2013: Hungary, 2014: UK, 2015: France. I went to some write-ins but I didn’t like them. My impression is that French people are not as good in small talk as the Brits (I did some write-ins in London and they were fine, or at least I don’t have bad memories from them like I do with the Parisian ones), I also signed up multiple times to mentor people or help with organisation and never got an answer. Oh well. Their loss.
2016: Megyünk az őszbe (Heading into the autumn)
Bled out at 30 K. My only Hungarian Nanoproject and honestly, it’s a cool one. (And haha one more WIP you have never heard about :D) In my head I categorise it as poetpunk or litpunk and it is about high schoolers based on the figures of literature. There are two planes: their every day school life and a dream plane which is inspired by the poetic world of Endre Ady. He is basically the emo rock star of Hungarian poetry, had an affair with a married woman, wrote melancholic decadent poetry, had syphilis, you got the gist. I really like this idea and honestly would read the hell out of this story if somebody wrote it. Catch is, the somebody would need to be me and (for the moment at least) I just can’t be bothered with trying to get published in the Hungarian market. But if one day I decide to return, I think this story would be a cool comeback.
Also have ZERO memories working on this.
2017: Glasgow, My Love
Deserted at 6500. What the ef was that year even? I have literally no memories of this Nano or the whole of 2017. Did that year even exist?
Btw GML is at 29 000 words so it has the critical mass to be finished. (But so are most of my other WIPs so this doesn’t really help actually :D)
2018: The flight of mechanical swallows
A shame of 2800 words. Redeeming circumstances: I was on my honeymoon at the beginning of this Nano and well even I couldn’t ignore my new husband (and New York!) for writing… But we went to a kick-off party where I actually got stickers – something the French write-ins also failed to do. I went for the stickers damn it 😀 (It seems I hold more beef for the French Nanocommunity than I realise)
This was a cool story idea too (although sort of dead on arrival) a novella set in the world of Dreamless about a clock-making woman who builds herself a child who then goes out into the world to discover themselves. It is basically a steampunk version of Thumbellina with a touch of Mary Shelley. (Honestly, I really like my ideas, please Subconscious write it while I sleep so I can read them…)
2019: Life on Mars
My big comeback. Bled out at 31 000. There was a scene that tore my heart open and destroyed me and I just couldn’t go on. This idea was born in 2016 when Trump was elected when Brexit was voted and I felt like there was no place on Earth left to go. Turns out space wasn’t that welcoming either. It is my darkest and most hopeless story where almost everybody dies in the end. I hold my view that it is an errant idea who somehow ended up with me.
It is thanks to LOM that Taylor Swift became the guardian angel of my writing (and my life.) Writing a date preparation scene with Archer unleashed so many things in my brain.
2020: Our Best Friend’s Alien Boyfriend
Did it again after 6 years! This has been the most magical Nano of my life so far. I was uncomfortable in my life and working on this story offered solace. I thought it was going to be fun and cupcakes, jokes about “Haha, the new guy is an alien!” and the like. No, it was a descent into darkness and teenage angst. It was a period when I suffered from insomnia (I wonder why…) but I welcomed it because in the early morning hours I was in a sort of feverish haze and I wrote pages upon pages in my little notebook. It’s a Nano I will never forget. And I even managed to continue writing Macchiatos during it. I had the trio of candles I would burn during writing and I remember perching on my chair wrapped in a blanket hacking out words.
Almost did it. When I finished I had more than 50 000 words but some of it I had written before. I entered myself the win because I thought it would motivate me to retrospectively write those words, but I didn’t, so I won’t do this ever again. But it was still a nice ride. August is a story of female friendship, the past repeating itself and a literary rendition of the “Summer Love Triangle” song by Taylor Swift (Betty, August and Cardigan). It is the Normandie shore populated by characters inspired by the albums folklore and evermore. You have the American millionaire judged by the town people, the young woman sneaking out at dawn to meet her lover, the teenagers falling in love under the August sun.
Funny how at one point recently I thought, okay I can pull out something to write for Nano2022 but what if… I RUN OUT OF IDEAS AFTER THAT AND I WON’T BE ABLE TO NANO?
I allowed myself exactly one minute of despair because I remembered the time, when I was 14 and my first boyfriend broke up with me and I stood in the gate of a friend with tear strained face and asked: What if I will never fall in love EVER AGAIN?
She laughed and said that would not happen.
And it did not because I spent the whole of high school being in love (hopelessly, but that wasn’t the point anyway.)
So no, I don’t think I’ll ever run out of Nano ideas.