French Friday: A Novel Draft in a Month Week 2

As the state of California is currently fighting against beastlike fires, I pause.

When I started All the Mountains We Can Climb I had two goals: writing about letting go after loss in its various forms and showcasing a tiny area of Yosemite and part of the foothills that stretch at the foot of the National Park. Although the town where Noelle lives is entirely fictional it is based on several towns I know well.

I also deliberately set the novel over the course of the hottest month of June in history. At the beginning of the novel, Noelle compares what will happen if she reveals the secret she’s holding to the spark that starts that has the power to start a devastating fire in the foothills.

As fires rage in the north and the south of the state I am grateful that my family and people I know have always been spared by their tragic consequences.

And in a sad turn of event I am also glad to have set my novel in the foothills, a tiny homage to California, two of my children’s home state.

 

Lonesome California Poppy

 

Every year, the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo starts on the first day of November.

I decided to participate this year with the goal to have a 50 000 words draft ready by the end of the month.

So what happened during this second week?

Saturday: Each writing critique group works differently. Mine follows two simple rules: the writer never reads his/her work and always waits for everyone’s comments until providing clarification if needed and asking questions.

The theme of the Picture Book manuscript I shared that day was unanimously liked. Being liked is not enough to submit. Each of my partners had suggestions so I could improve the pace and nail the ending. It can be hard to listen to various opinions but also very productive when they meet. It was the case for this specific story.

Sunday: In French we say Il faut battre le fer pendant qu’il est chaud or Strike while the iron is hot. So, with comments still very fresh in my mind I came up with a second draft in the afternoon, purposely letting my novel simmers.

Monday: I found out that my application to a book festival paired to school visits has been accepted. Small successes are so crucial to each of us, regardless of the nature of our work. So I felt uplifted and wrote. Still halfway from the 2000 magic word-count, though, and I questioned my slow pace.

Tuesday: Unable to pinpoint the exact reason I still had the gut feeling that something was off with my new novel. I still wrote. But strayed away after writing 900 words.

Wednesday: The aha moment or le déclic in French: Evelyne, you are not writing a YA novel but a Middle Grade novel. The protagonist cannot be a teen girl since she’s 11-year-old when she’s talking to you!

I was just not listening. When I did listen, though, everything fell slowly in place. Not the details of the plot that always evolve as I write, but my protagonist’s problem was clear. My main theme became evident. The trick for me is to capture in one sentence what the story is about. If I can’t then I need to think again about what I want to write about. Also the ending is always clear when I’m on the right tracks.

On Wednesday night, I felt more confident and excited to have found the reason why something felt odd.

Thursday: I woke up early and although I have a hard time staying away from the news those days, I did not even check my email and wrote. I even settled on a working title that could be the definitive one. Still keeping it to myself for now J

Friday: The day has just started…

 

Conclusion of the second NaNoWriMo week:

 

*It is okay to err.

*It is also important to trust the gut feeling and the small inner voice. They always know the truth.

*A strange beginning of week that ends on a much more a positive note.

 

On another positive note, Thanksgiving is around the corner.

 

I was moved to read that recent immigrants still embrace this particular holiday with genuine fervor. As true newcomers, most add to the turkey signature dish their own twist with particular spices or side dishes from their homeland. Some even practice before the big day when it’s their first Thanksgiving.

I remember my husband and me waking up so early on our first Thanksgiving, only because the turkey we purchased, although the smallest, was still huge and it would take hours to cook it properly. We wanted to eat when everyone across the States would eat, too. Our first Thanksgiving resembled what the most recent immigrants will experience on Thursday.

Happy Thanksgiving to you, my fellow immigrant!

I also know of a few Americans now living abroad. They still celebrate, despite the fact that Thursday is a working day for them. It is a lonely feeling to rejoice without family and friends from the homeland.

So I send you my warm wishes on this 2018 Thanksgiving.

And to everyone else, wherever you live across these big United States, I wish each of you a Happy Peaceful Thanksgiving Day.

At some point, I learned that many Americans wear the color red on Thanksgiving to mark the beginning of the holiday season. Which explains my selection of red flowers.

Due to the holiday I will not blog on Friday. Enjoy those yummy leftovers!

French Friday: A Novel Draft in a Month

Every year the National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo starts on the first day of November.

This year I’m participating with the goal to have 50 000 words down by the end of the month.

So what happened during this first week?

THURSDAY: I woke up receiving a really thoughtful rejection for one of my Picture Book manuscripts with an invitation to send more of my work. A little disappointed but still uplifted, I outlined my new novel and wrote 1000 words.

FRIDAY: Early morning, I received another e-mail regarding the same Picture Book manuscript. This time, the editor asked me if I would be interested to work on a round of revision in order to bring this story to publication. Bring it on!

My 2000 words objective was again derailed because I searched for another manuscript to send to the first publisher and mostly because I felt anxious to receive the editor’s thoughts and start working on the revisions.

SATURDAY: Thursday and Friday’s e-mails were still on my mind. Picture Books very much, too. So I wrote another one, based on its title, which is actually a real question my youngest daughter asked me shortly after her brother’s birth. Sometimes finding a title is the hardest thing, sometimes it starts everything. In this case, I wrote very quickly and had a first 500-word draft ready by the end of the day. Right on time for my monthly critique meeting next Saturday.

MONDAY: Early morning I found Nicki’s blog post in my Inbox and it made my day. She had invited me for an interview about my YA novel All the Mountains We Can Climb. Nicki’s blog is one of the most thoughtful and interesting blogs I follow. She’s a writer, too, and I encourage you to visit her.

TUESDAY: The midterms elections affected my focus. The late results kept me agitated for most of the day. Besides, I was still waiting for the editor’s suggestions and was a little edgy. I still wrote 900 words. Painfully, though.

WEDNESDAY: My husband took me for breakfast, something we occasionally do, either as a celebration or consolation. Let’s say that this breakfast played both roles. Still unsure of my post midterms election mood, although I saw the number of women elected as a good reason to cheer up, I wrote another 1000 words. A friend of mine was organizing a panel with local authors and teens at our library. She had invited me and confirmed the event and the date for January. Always positive to meet the people who are building the world’s future.

THURSDAY: Very early morning my husband told me about another gun massacre in the LA area. Although no one we know has been killed or wounded, it is one too many. Disturbed, I ended up completing the entire revision for a compilation I intend to introduce soon on this very blog. I also submitted one manuscript to the publisher who wanted to see more of my work. The editor apologized for being late with her revision thoughts and promised to get back to me very soon.  Relieved, I returned to work and put 1000 words down.

FRIDAY: It is another writing day…

 

Conclusion of the first NaNoWriMo week:

*Writing and discipline work hand in hand. Physical but also mental discipline.

*An emotionally charged week, where personal and national events took control of me.

*So I didn’t write 2000 words every day.

*Yet I wrote every day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

French Friday: November Is a Bridge To NaNoWriMo

The first autumn I spent in Paris stays close to my memory.

On Saturdays and Sundays, when I had no classes, I took long walks along unknown streets that carried me from one arrondissement to another.

During these solitary autumnal walks, the bridges (thirty-seven in Paris) that straddle the River Seine and link the left and right banks took literally my breath away. I liked nothing more than crossing the Pont Neuf, the Pont Saint Louis, or my very favorite the Pont Alexandre III.

Soon, autumn deepened and winter drew closer. By November, I hugged my raincoat closer to my body and my scarf tighter around my neck. Below the bridges, the River Seine glistened, a thick grey ribbon, disturbed by the gusts of winds and chilly rains.

Lacking the beauty of early autumn and upcoming winter, November felt, however, essential to transition between these two seasons.

Much time has passed since my footsteps echoed along those Paris bridges, the sound as familiar as the beating of my blood.

Yet, November remains for me a bridge from fall to winter.

This year November will also be my bridge to NaNoWriMo.

In the past, I’ve already participated to the yearly national novel writing event. My middle grade novel Chronicles From Château Moines started over one particular month of November.

Twice, however, I twisted the rules and used the month of November to write stories and picture book manuscripts instead of a novel.

This year, I decided to return to the simple rule that defines NaNoWriMo.

From November 1st to the 30th participants write with the goal to have 50 000 words down by the end of the month. For a YA or adult novel it is likely not enough for a complete first draft, but it is a very good start. When I followed this rule I tried to stick to 2000 words a day but Sundays. NaNoWriMo specifies that the novel should be an entirely new project that has not been started yet, although it’s acceptable to have an outline.

My 2018 project is both new and not outlined.

The only thing I knew before I started yesterday is that it would be another YA novel. I also knew that I wanted to write about two of my favorite things in life: books and baking.

There will still be French elements. Of course!

And it will be set in Maine.

During the month of November, French Friday will recap my week of writing, focusing on inspiration and motivation, and on challenges linked to writing in another language, more than characterization and plot.

I’ve no doubt that I’ll go through many ups and downs as I plow my way through the very first draft of a very new story.

So wish me luck and continue to support me through my already published novels. By the way, I’m happy to see that All the Mountains We Can Climb has received its first 5 stars review. Check it out!

 

P.S. It’s never too late to embark the NaNoWriMo boat. Here is the link to see how it works. 

It is also totally okay to skip the official registration and still write 50 000 words this month.

 

Will you follow the path and get to the Word Count?

 

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