You know, on any other normal New Year’s Eve I would go to sleep, or stay up to see the ball drop, or whatever. I wouldn’t feel too keen on blogging as the last hours of 2013 slide by.

But this year…is different. Important.
First of all, I’ve been blogging on this thing for a year. A year. I thought, last year when I first started up the blog, that I was doing it because…everyone else had been doing it, I guess, because it was a Publishing Key Marketing Move and I wanted something to remember my writing process by, something to look back on in the future maybe when I was successful or something. 
Right now? I’ve been blogging for a year. And I don’t have much readers, but I love blogging. I love typing my thoughts out and ranting when the times get hard and gushing when I read a lovely book. It’s like shouting into a nearly empty canyon. It’s quite liberating, actually. 
Also…I grew. I learned. A lot. A. LOT.
I remember last year, when I was tucked into my little corner, worrying my heart and brain out over TeaNovel. I had just discovered the platform of YA authors. My dreams were naive and big; I was slowly, slowly finding myself through the writing world.
In 2013, I made writing a Serious Job. I’m still a student, and during the day, I still go to school and geek out with friends. But this year, I set goals for myself. I let myself peek at a chance of publication for TeaNovel. I discovered what it meant to rewrite and rewrite a novel. I discovered what a query was and what it meant to get a literary agent. (Which I really, really hope can happen to me someday!) 
In 2013, I set a foot in the publishing business. The day after my 8th grade graduation, I flew to New York, where I attended BEA in New York City. I had never been in a more inspiring convention center, surrounded by authors with their stacks of ARCs and watching, awe-struck, as the role models I admired from afar were literally standing ten feet away. I remember the first picture I took at BEA was a random snapshot of Sarah J. Maas standing next to Susan Dennard’s autographing station and I was sort of having an internal mini-breakdown. The fangirl kind, of course. It was like seeing your favorite movie stars on the red carpet, except the carpet was blue and they weren’t swirled up in some fancy Dior gown, but cardigans and dresses and All Things Authorly. 
I also attended my first three author events; Rae Carson & CJ Redwine, Sarah J. Maas, Marie Lu. Rae and CJ were lovely ladies; when I approached them after the event, they both gave me great writing encouragement. Sarah…well, I did a whole post on her back in September and she is just so amazing and inspiring and kickass and so so KIND. As for Marie–I remember going up to her in the signing line and just spilling–literally ranting–everything I’ve wanted to tell her in the past 2 years. Because Legend was the book that changed my life, and I am so, so grateful that it did. 
2013 was the year many stunning sequels came out (Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas and A Darkness Strange and Lovely by Susan Dennard were my two favorites), and the year that stunning trilogies came to an end. (And YES, I absolutely loved the ending to Allegiant.)
In November 2013, I wrote an 80K novel from scratch, in 30 days, and by near-pantsing, I crafted a story that I am very, very excited to work on in the new year. 
I know this sounds so silly, but 2013 has, in so many ways, bridged that enormous gap between 2012 and 2014. Sure, there was a lor of angst and frustration, and there were many times I thought I was never going to get anywhere in my writing, but when I look back, I see everything. It’s been such a developmental year and I am sure I am a different person today than I was back in 2012.
I’m so glad this year happened.
And I can’t wait for 2014. Now my eye is on Dreams of Gods and Monsters by Laini Taylor and Strange and Ever After by Susan Dennard (and Sarah J. Maas’s untitled Book 3 of the Throne of Glass series!). 
As for the New Year…
In 2014, I have only two resolutions;
1. To Grow.
2. To Do Epic Shit. 
It sounds so vague, but in my heart, I know what those resolutions mean to me, very, very clearly. 
Okay. Fine. A specific resolution. 
I want to start querying agents. (Which really branches under the To Grow category, but I think announcing things give it some validity.)
Also;
I want to read more books. See more. Experience things that surprise me. 
In 2014, I want to grow, to love, and to do epic shit. 

End word count: 80.184 words.

A few days before NaNo started, I posted a letter to NaNoWriMo.

I wrote that letter in a stage of general fear.

I hadn’t written down a single word of plot plans, and I had no idea what my novel was going to do. I had the first scene, and one smidgen of the conflict, and the last line.

That was it.

I never knew that roughly 30 days later, I would stand, my novel completed, at 80,000 words.

I never knew how exhilarating, how beautifully frustrating and challenging this novel would be. All in all, in might be my favorite novel yet.

But the best part of pantsing the novel was the act of throwing caution to the air and being open to any ideas. It’s that sudden, unexpected twist your story takes that changes the arc drastically. It’s the discovery of truths and beautiful lines hidden in the drivel. It’s the feeling you get, in a coffee shop; you are shaking, literally shaking, as your finger stumble across the words that slams the plot together, and you discover the truths and revelations that only become clear the moment the words touch the screen. They leave you surprised, shocked, and absolutely breathless.

It’s an experience unlike any other.

Thank you. For everyone who supported me on Twitter. For NaNoWriMo, the program that kicked me in the pants and made me leap into the unknown, with abandon, only to come back on a badass steampunk parachute and with a velociraptor perched on my arm.

I feel so, so…overwhelmed. And giddy. And proud.

So many feels.

*crash*

Dear NaNoWriMo,

As of this morning, I stand at 64,000 words.

I am no longer at the point where I’m afraid I’m not going to finish. I have sixteen thousand words left.

Normally, had I been at 34K with the sixteen thousand words left, I would have freaked out.

But this NaNoWriMo has been different from all others.

My very very first NaNoWriMo, I was writing with a friend. We inspired each other, bounced ideas off of each other, but  it was a tough going. I loved my story premise, but then hated it. Though I reached 60,000 words, the story ultimately failed.

My second NaNoWriMo, I absolutely fell in love with the story, but it was so hard to write it. Nearly every scene was a struggle. I came in at around 52,000 words with the complete novel.

But this NaNoWriMo, I had Susan Dennard and her NaNoBootCamp, with all the wonderful NaNoCadets. I found a community, and I made great friends on Twitter. I did word sprints.

And even though I jumped into this novel with nothing written down on paper, and no index-carded plot, I knew my setting. I knew the barest bones of plot. And I knew the last line of the book.

That was it.

But I wrote it.

Perhaps it was because I had so many points of inspiration, or because this was a much more complex, convoluted plot for my novel, but this year, even with absolutely no written plot, I wrote many, many words.

And I sound so sure now, like it was all meant to be.

But in September, or even October, I was nursing another idea. But somehow, in the last two weeks of October, the idea of this novel pieced itself in my head. It wasn’t done–I had to figure out some of the plot from the trenches of NaNo. I loved the points of inspiration, but I wasn’t sure where this novel would take me, or if it would ultimately result in a mess of broken plots and story lines.

But–

I wrote it. I threw myself headfirst into a story I intuitively loved. I made some amazing friends and I sprinted with them, and they cheered me on when I was sure the story was going to give up on me. My writer friend Andi was there for me, always welcome to my texts, always firm and reassuring.

There were school days I wrote 3K, 4K, no problem. Days when I struggled to break 1K. There were miraculous days where I plastered my butt to the chair and set my hands on fire, and I came out victorious that day with seven thousand words.

And the story–it’s developed so much, fleshed itself out, but in the roots and the vision, it is nearly fundamentally the same.

And I am so, so close to the finish.

It’s like those last miles of a marathon, where you see everything sort of flash before your eyes, and you experience simultaneously all the emotions of elation and frustration and joy that brought you to this moment.

I know 16K sounds like a lot, but compared to the work I have done on my novel thus far, the 16K will be written, and I will be at the finish line on November 30th, dazed and awed.

NaNoWriMo, I will see you there.

So OMG, the weeks have flown by! One day, I was staring at a blank Scrivener document and panicking about not having a plot and now, I’m almost done with my novel!

62,068 words. Woo. Oh, wow.

Week Four is harder. Much harder. Basically, it has gone from this:

To this:

I have never gone as far as 62K in *any* NaNoWriMo before.

And I am aiming for 80K. O_O

I will do this.

Right now I’m saving my words, haha, but I promise there will be a much more detailed blog post after NaNo has ended. NaNo has not killed me, I promise! 🙂

Want a song, though?

It’s from my playlist and describes one of the main characters perfectly.

Oh! And another:

It’s the most beautiful, magical song ever.

See you at the finish line!

So, cheers for braving the first week of NaNo!

So, I didn’t expect much. Like, honestly, I had not plotted out a single smidgen of structural plottiness in the waning days of October. I expected my dazzling story idea to splat on the page, and leave me to scrape up the pieces through grueling 1,667-word chunks.

But what I did NOT imagine was emerging out of Week One with 19,000 words under my belt!!!!

Holy…wow.

Last year was hard for me. Like, hard. I loved my story to death, and I still do, but it was pretty much mentally painful to struggle to get myself to the quota. Sure, there had been times when words were flying out, in tandem with my organized (?!) thoughts, but that happened like, 0.5 times. Point made; NaNo was no piece of cake.

And it still isn’t. But there are some things I didn’t expect, and they genuinely shocked me.

1. How many words I can write in 30 minutes.
I guess all the sprinting paid off, eh? The first time I attempted, seriously attempted NaNoWriMo, I managed around 900, 1000 words an hour for an all-out sprint. And then I cut it down, for chunks of 500 words in 15 minutes, which, truth to be told, I struggled with.
But this year? Some of the practice has finally paid off. I can top 1000 words, easy, in 30 minutes. Maybe in 25, if I’m super-inspired.

Uhhhh….what? I’m not the fastest typist on earth, but some demon has taken over me, I’m sure.

2. And this year, my scenes are no longer problematically short. My zombie-brain has no idea whatsoever I’m filling in the scenes with, but I know it’s not painful padding. My scenes, on average, around around 1000 words. Wow. And a few 30 minute sprints mean…
I’ve had three nights in the first week, when I’ve written 3000 words or more. (There was that INSANE school night when I wrote like 4600 words –but it is legendary, and I doubt it will happen again.)

3. How the story is coming to me.
Sure, I still need to think through things and sure, they’re not coming easily but when I say I had no bit of plot, I MEAN I had no plot. Nada. Zip. Nothing written, at all. And…

…the pantsing has worked, for me? For this novel, at least? Usually if I can picture scenes in my head like a movie, I’m good to go.

4. Music
Now music fuels my writing. I mean, I can’t write without plugging in a favorite soundtrack. I think it’s just special to thsi novel–the scenes come so fast and furious, and…this novel just has been very special to me.

So overall, happy surprises! Watch out, Wrimos–Week Two might hit a slump, and watch me come back crying and smeared in guilt chocolate.

But until then, here is a song that I absolutely love, and it fits the spirit of NaNo perfectly.

Happy first week of NaNo, guys!

Dear NaNoWriMo 2013,

–I’m scared.

I think the writing life constantly cycles between various stages of fear and excitement. Each year I do NaNoWriMo, it gets increasingly harder–as I’m getting older and moving into higher levels of education, schoolwork gets intense, life builds up, and right after I scale a mountain an even bigger one is there for me to climb.

And it’s three days ’till NaNo and I am so, so scared.

I have barely any plot. I know my story very, very well, but only on the most instinctive level. This is the story I have been getting the first seeds of since I was in eighth grade, the story based on the things I loved most, a dream of two lands; one frozen with ice and one glittering gold with power. There will be a brutal, ancient war and otherworldly, violent, savage creatures. It all sounds very lovely in my head right now.

But ultimately, I know it might splat. My friends and family think I’m possibly crazy for even attempting. On the outside, I wear my bravado–because what else do I have? How do I rightly justify myself in the eyes of society, a girl who weaves dreams and lies for fun and stays home, eyes worryingly intent on a manmade glowing contraption, fingers clacking out her childish fantasies instead of oh, I don’t know, STUDYING, maybe? How many hours of time and energy will I have to forgo to make it through another season? Might I turn into a zombie? Very valid questions, but I have no idea.

But then people say, “You can totally, like not do this.” And that’s possible, easy even, but

No way.

I will not quit. Not doing NaNoWriMo has never been on my mind (Ask me again in two weeks, please.) I gripe and moan and complain, but in the end, I love NaNo with all my heart because it made this girl write. It made this girl believe that she COULD write a novel in a month if she wanted to. It made her believe she could write a novel. And it DID make her write novels.

I will always be eternally grateful to NaNoWriMo. Because last year, when I suddenly decided that I wanted to do NaNoWriMo, three days before the event, it made me scramble for a plot and think…and think…

And I came upon a story that I absolutely, absolutely loved. And I’m going to start querying it, this January.

I love NaNoWriMo because of its go-go-go mentality, its encouragement to chuck caution to the wind and just create something, anything. I love it because it calls for exuberance and wild chaos, beautiful crap-dumping that would later be polished to stunning prose. It allows you to make mistakes, and not give a damn about it.

And I may question myself constantly, asking myself why I’m being a nutball and deciding to do this every year, but I will never quit because I love making stories, and the idea of not participating in this when I could have will hurt me 10x more than plugging through this month-long purgatory.

And I know that in a month, I’ll be so, so glad I did this.

As I stand on the bleak shore, staring out at the choppy, formidable waves, I pray to the NaNo gods for another successful season, and I hope my stubbornness can brave me through the rough tides.

This is it. Here we go.

Love,
Christina