It’s National Novel Writing Month … Again


After my first foray into National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo, exactly 3 years ago, I decided to finally sign up again this year. The past two years, I hemmed and hawed and decided in the end that I’d just stick to doing my own writing on my own time at my own pace and not shoot for the 50K-word target.

Finding myself in a situation where I had the freedom to do a bit more writing (a.k.a. in-between-jobs), I decided I had to do something about an idea that had been brewing since I first thought about it and wrote a short scene consisting mainly of dialogue several years ago, which I turned into a short script intended for the PEI Screenwriters’ Bootcamp of 2013, for which I developed a full 13-episode mini-bible. That meant I had a very rough idea of what direction the story would take–and when I say rough, I mean rough: 50- to 100-word concepts for the remaining 12 episodes.

I’d received a lot of feedback that it was a very promising story, but was torn between expanding the episodes to fill an hour (really, about 40 minutes) or cut them and concentrate them to fit a half-hour (which really is only about 18-22 minutes). As you might have guessed by now, I remained torn; hence, the decision to take the mini-bible and convert it into a novel.

I’m still hemming and hawing about how it will develop. However, I got off to a head start just converting the script for the first episode into prose. I also managed to up the count by throwing in some character descriptions, some scene descriptions here and there, and even a bit of dialogue and action for a couple of the episodes.

It’s also part of my excitement, I guess, at my newest toy, a really handy software called Scrivener from Literature and Latte, which allows me to write on “index cards” and to see my writing as index cards or as written text. I can shuffle those cards, move them around, and keep any bit of writing I want even if I don’t think I will keep them in the final copy. I do know I’m not too happy with the last bit I wrote, and then I got extremely busy and was out of the house for quite a length of time so I wasn’t able to follow-up on my incredible head start. Now, I’m in a bit of a slump and need to get back to writing that novel while stopping my editor’s brain from telling me “Delete! Delete!”

And that’s why I’m writing this. I figured that if I just let it out and do a bit of metacognitive processing I might be able to metastasize my thoughts into words.

After I get back from running an errand and supper and a shower…

Daring to Write


I have always been good at expressing my thoughts in writing and never had a problem with composition and reading classes. Writing and reading were water to my fish.

Unfortunately, I was also my worst enemy.

Normally a very introverted and insecure person, I could not expose my innermost thoughts to the world, so I kept my poetry and stories to myself. Until some teachers noticed. I began confiding in some very sympathetic teachers when I was in fifth grade and the poetry was literally gushing out of me. Since then, I found greater encouragement from my English teachers. Then I found THE English teacher who really believed in me and nurtured my writing. I also found another teacher who would let me spill out the contents of my mind and heart to her and I found even more to write about. Still, the only public writing I produced were more impersonal essays. Need I say I even became an excellent public speaker because of my writing? Of course, there had always been that passion for theatre and the secret longing to become a stage actress, director, and playwright, that helped that along. But that’s a different story.

Because of my English teacher and other English teachers, plus an aunt who is a writer that I had secretly admired and wanted to be like, I dared to join a Creative Writing Fellowship at the top University in the Philippines. For two summers, I attended, first as an observer, then as a participant, where my creative writing was up for criticism. I survived and not without a lot of encouragement and some praise from my aunt for a story she didn’t know was written by me.

After several years of putting writing in the background, simply because I needed a job that gave me a steady income, I decided to write again. This time, I shared it with great trepidation to two of my dearest friends, both artists and literarily inclined. If not for them, I would never have submitted my play to the most prestigious National literary competition, the Carlos Palanca Foundation Annual Literary  Awards. Finding out that I had received the third place for full-length plays in English was a totally shocking but also totally satisfying experience.

Migrating to Canada put writing as a career on hold, especially since I eventually had to find work that was a far cry from what I went to school for, even if the plan was for me to become a full-time artist and writer.

After 4 tumultuous and emotionally draining years, I finally decided to put myself out there in the open, beginning with a solo art exhibit that feature my art and my poetry. Then I decided to plunge into National Novel Writing Month, since I had become unemployed anyway and had the time to do it. (Because of employment, I did not dare try for the Labour Day weekend novel writing competitions, and I really doubted I could finish a novel in three days.) I was determined to finally write that novel–and I did.

I still doubt myself, even after sharing parts of my novel with several other writers in the Next Best Author contest, which I was also scared to join, but which I decided I would do anyway, because I really wanted to launch my career as an author. Because of NaNoWriMo, there was no way I could hide the fact that I had completed a novel–besides, I had publicized it all over Facebook among all my friends, and they were cheering me on. Another dear friend even offered to edit my book, just so she could read it, and her words and support have been very encouraging. I have found still more friends who are also writers and am now active with not one, but two writing groups, plus a third support group made up of the other contestants! That was probably the most pleasant and rewarding surprise: that competitors were becoming friends in writing through sharing in an exclusive group just for the contestants! Now, I have writer friends around the world who are willing to talk, to listen, to share, to read, to mentor, to encourage and to support each other.

If this is the writing life, I want to stay in it! It is already much more than I had dreamed it would be.

Who knows what other dreams will come true?

NaNoWriMo: I Did It!



I took the longest time to decide to join National Novel Writing Month…five years! It was auspicious when I was laid off my full time job and I was looking for something else to do besides painting and crafting and writing poetry, or sorting out odds and ends I’d collected over the years and cleaning out pockets of junk from my apartment. I didn’t even sign up on the 1st of November, because I still wasn’t sure I’d be able to do it, but on the 2nd of November, I decided that if I really wanted to be a novelist, I’d have to sit down and do it.

I have several ideas for books and novels that I’ve been toying around with in my head for years, so I took the one that was most promising and that I’d been wanting to do something about since I became interested in Mythology, which was when I was a kid. I had always wanted to do something in the line of comparative mythology and my first opportunity actually came in a dance show that I produced with Benildanze in 2006: Mythos, which made use of creation stories from Philippine and Japanese mythology.

About a year ago, I was playing with writing dialogue and wrote a few pages of  dialogue that I adapted for the beginning of my first NaNoWriMo novel.

I had no outline, no plan, just a vague idea of how the story would begin, and on the 2nd of November, when I began writing, I put down over 8,000 words. The story just started flowing out then, and everyday, I’d sit and write for maybe two or three hours and come up with anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 odd words a day. I did a lot of time wasting. I started the day with reading email then Facebook messages; then I’d get breakfast or lunch or brunch, depending on what time it was or how late it was in the morning and watch old episodes of NCIS, Seventh Heaven and now, Monk, on Project Free TV while having my meal. Only then would I begin to write, maybe an hour or two. Then I’d work out for an hour while watching more old TV episodes, shower, then write again for another hour or two. By the then, it would be time for supper and prime time TV, which I’d watch while writing or not writing. Sometimes, I’d continue writing for an hour after all the TV shows and the late news then turn in anywhere between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m., depending on my mood.

At least once a week, I’d start the day with doing laundry. A couple of times, I started with baking. Once, I stopped writing in the afternoon just to bake something because I was thinking of what sort of puzzle I could work into the adventure that was folding out in my novel. But every single day, I would sit down and write, even if it was just for half an hour, just so I wouldn’t lose my momentum. My aim was to finish at least one chapter a day. On a good day, I finished two chapters, which was really a good pace because I never reached a point of burnout.

After my first day of writing, the NaNoWriMo counter projected that I could finish by the 12th of November. By my second day of writing, it was up to the 16th, then the 19th, then finally it stayed on the 28th, which occasionally pushed back to the 29th or forward to the 27th. I completed my 50K words by the 28th, so I’m really happy about that. Now, I’m going to finish my novel, which could take anywhere from 5 to 15 more chapters. I know what I want to happen and it’s just a matter of writing it out. I still don’t know the how for the last third of the novel, but I didn’t know that for the second third of it and, while it took me one whole writing period just to come up with the how, once that had been figured out, the writing just flowed on.

I am fulfilling a dream I have had since I was a very young girl and I am loving it!