05 Dec NaNoWriMo 2017 Dropout but Still a Winner
As November 1 approached, I was pumped up about drafting a novel for 2017 National Novel Writing Month. The story would be the third in my Hattie Robinson Barton saga. It would follow Hattie into the era of the Great Depression.
In case you’re not familiar with my novels, the plot of Hattie’s Place, the first book, revolves around the main character, Hattie Robinson. She’s had her heart broken over a cancelled engagement weeks before her graduation in 1906. The story moves through the challenges of her first year of teaching in the fictional town of Calhoun, South Carolina. In addition, it reveals her surprising relationship with the widowed Charles Barton.
Fullness of Time Brings New Challenges for Hattie Barton
In the Fullness of Time, the second book, sees Hattie struggle to balance her life as a mother and wife with her passion for woman’s suffrage. In this third novel, which I will call Rising Above It, I’m thrusting Hattie into a new series of challenges. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 and subsequent worldwide economic depression of the 1930’s exacerbate those challenges. I want to see if she can once again rise above adversity in her personal life.
I’d sketched out a rough plot and thought about the cast of characters. Most of them had already been introduced in the previous books. I’d also done some reading on the Great Depression, both fictional and non-fictional. I’d logged onto the NaNoWriMo website, filled out the participation forms, and was ready to begin.
And then I received a message from my editor at Kirkus Review. She said that the content edit of my current novel was ready for review.
2016 Na-No Draft is Ready for Revision
“What novel is that?” you ask. Why, it’s the novel I began last year during National Novel Writing Month 2016. It’s on track to be published early in 2018. The working title is Mountain Brook Memories: 1961-1963. The book skips a generation, and takes up in 1961, with Hattie’s granddaughter, Harriet Oechsner. Harriet is a preacher’s kid whose family moves to Birmingham at the height of the Cold War and the Civil Rights movement.
Last year, I wrote with a fury, and completed over fifty thousand words well before the deadline. In fact, I finished in time to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for our entire family. You can read all about my experience in former blogs. Almost Time NaNo Prep Recipes Countdown Panic Update 2016 NaNo Winner
Fantastic Experience to Participate with Writers All Trying to Accomplish the Same Thing
It was the first time I’d ever written to a deadline and participated in a major movement of writers all trying to accomplish the same thing, while supporting and cheering one another on. It was a fantastic experience, which I fully intended to repeat this year.
I’d hoped to finish revising Mountain Brook Memories. Then, I’d send it off for a second edit, and begin drafting Rising Above It. Even if I wasn’t able to write all fifty thousand words by November 30, I’d at least get something down on paper to work with later.
The plan would have worked, had I not pursued a suggestion the editor made. She pointed out an unevenness in my treatment of one of the book’s themes, civil rights. Early in the story I’d introduced a supporting character’s commitment to stand up for racial equality. However, I had not brought up the theme again until chapter eleven.
Revision Requires Adding a New Chapter and More Research
To more effectively anchor the theme to the character and setting, I decided to add a section about Birmingham after chapter two. It describes the collusion of Bull Connor’s police department with the Ku Klux Klan in allowing a white mob to attack and beat up Freedom Riders, who arrived at Greyhound and Trailways bus stations in Birmingham on Mother’s Day in 1961. Following that section, I drafted a scene in which the main character encounters the enforcement of a city ordinance segregating blacks from whites in public facilities.
It became obvious that the revision would involve the addition of an entire chapter. That would require more research and writing time. Faced with the decision of fleshing out the novel I’d almost completed versus laying it aside to pursue work on an emerging plot for NaNoWriMo, I went with the proverbial bird-in-the-hand and chose to work on the revision.
A Win-Win Situation
So, even though I’m a 2017 NaNoWriMo dropout, I ended the month of November with an improved manuscript of a novel. And, if all goes well, it will be published in the New Year. It’s a novel that emerged from the fifty thousand words I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2016. I’d say that’s a win-win situation. And, knowing the philosophy of the folks at NaNoWriMo, I’m certain that they agree.
I’m still searching for the right title for the Mountain Brook novel. However, you can look for it to come out in January or February. You can also count me in for NaNoWriMo 2018!
Link to Purchase Hattie’s Place and In the Fullness of Time
In the meantime, if you haven’t read Hattie’s Place or In the Fullness of Time, you can purchase copies by clicking the link below. Or, if my books aren’t written in your preferred genre, they would still make good stocking stuffers for friends who love Chick Lit and Historical Fiction with strong female characters. http://amzn.to/2yOVrlq.