Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What do Dead Pheasants have to do with NaNoWriMo?

My husband killed Ralph last Thursday. Backed right over him with the truck. Didn't even see him. Both of us felt terrible, even if Ralph was just our resident male pheasant of the adjacent field. As my husband scooped him off the driveway with a shovel, I consoled myself by thinking at least it wasn't my grandson.

One good thing did come from that traumatic moment: I vowed to always slow down and check things out before I take off in my car.

The following evening I realized I should have used that advice with my tongue. I attended my missionary reunion. (It's been over 30 years since the last one). We each had two minutes to fill everyone in on what had happened in our lives in the past 30 years. If we went over the allotted two minutes, the moderator would ring a cow bell. When it came to my turn, I jumped up, excited to tell about my post-missionary puppet endeavors. (I thought everyone would be interested in hearing about my puppet business since I had started making puppets and using them on my mission.). I put my mouth into gear without forethought. It rambled aimlessly about my puppets, never getting to other aspects of my life that would have made my  story more complete, and satisfying. The cowbell rang. As I sat down, someone yelled out, "Hey, do you have a family?" Not only did I feel a bit foolish, I felt let down that I had told an incomplete story.

Over the weekend, as I mulled over this embarrassing experience, my thoughts drifted to my upcoming participation in NaNoWriMo. (For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is a challenge to write a complete novel, 50K words, in the month of November). Like most people, I was ready to take off on November first, without much forethought, and ramble-off 50K words onto my computer screen. But what would that get me? The glory of completing NaNoWriMo, and a dead, incomplete story. Of course, you always have major editing to do with a NaNo manuscript, but I thought why not minimize the re-writing pain? If I were to slow down now, and put some forethought into my novel, highlighting all the important points I want to make, when I take off, my ramblings on the keyboards will have more direction.

Thanks, Ralph, for giving your life that I might prepare myself better to write my next novel.


  1. Technically, part of the challenge of Nano is doing all that during November. Don't be a cheater!

  2. I'm trying to plan out a novel right now too, although I'm not going to do NaNo. I hope to be able to write a whole lot faster than I have been. Sorry about the poor pheasant!

  3. Nice post. I was a missionary once too, in Singapore and Malaysia. Too bad the reunions all take place in USA while I'm living out here in Malaysia!
    Support me against bullying today over at my blog: Duncan In Kuantan

  4. Actually, NaNoWriMo encourages writers to plot and prepare for the NaNo challenge in advance so you can take off writing on Nov. 1st. In fact, Oct. 17th was NaNo Prep day, and the Office of Letters and Light hosted some events & discussions about what to do now to get the maximum benefits of the challenge.

    I think this is awesome! Get organized, then write like crazy!