life · Writing

Camp NaNoWriMo April 2015

This Camp NaNoWriMo session made me wicked nostalgic for the 90s. My project was based off of a childhood friendship that got me out of my shell. I like to call this type of story a parallel world, because many details are true, but others are exaggerated or fabricated. Of course, the professional term for this is creative nonfiction.

Title: Stone Bench
Description: Homeschooled Lyric Miller is only allowed one extracurricular outside of her education and church activities: being a Girl Scout. When Alyvia Gillespie joins the troop, Lyric discovers a whole new world of mermaids, fairies, and witches. After finding magic in her first and only friend, can Lyric learn to grow beyond the confines of her controlling mother, even after Alyvia moves away?
Themes: Childhood, coming of age, independence, LGBT
Goal: 17,500 words
Total: 20,245 words

Screenshot 2015-04-30 16.12.59

Week 1: I was on track for the first few days, but then had a minor bout of food poisoning which set me back three days.

Week 2: Caught up, fell behind a day. Got hard to balance Camp NaNo with NaPoMo, personal life, and work, so did NaPoMo all in one day for the queue to lessen stress. Caught up again, staying up late to reach the word count. When developing scenes for my project, I asked myself, “Does this scene add something to the project, or am I including it to add more words?” If I could justify the scene in some way, I included it.

Week 3: I got into the dangerous routine of writing every other day, until day 19, where I found myself ahead of schedule. On April 22, I took advantage of my lunch break to partake in my very first NaNo Sprint where I wrote 660 words, long hand, in thirty minutes!

Week 4: By this week, I had begun to lose motivation. The story was already written “in my head,” so why should I continue? I already knew what would happen, right? Well, I knew I would eventually need to get the story out of me, so I started to utilize different methods to keep myself motivated. I started the week by listening in on my very first Virtual Write-In, using the prompts as exercises to really think about my characters and how I could understand them more. As the week progressed, I wrote my favorite quotes from the Camp Care Packages in the margins of my journal. I participated in the last Virtual Write-In and got three shout-outs! I managed to finish the last chapter I had to write on the last day.

For the entire month, I wrote in a different color every day. Not only did this help me visualize how much I had written each day, but it also grabbed my attention, keeping me involved in the story. And now the journal is filled with pretty colors! Whenever I finished a scene, I crossed it off my outline. I am a visual person, so I love seeing my progress. The Camp NaNoWriMo target and stats bars are a large part of the thrill for me! The other part, of course, is bringing a whole new story into existence.

StonebenchsalemThe stone bench that inspired the title was located in the backyard of my childhood friend’s apartment. Though I do not have a picture of that particular stone bench, I found a picture I took in downtown Salem, Massachusetts, circa 2010. This location was the setting for the last chapter.

When I wasn’t writing, I would reflect on my story while listening to the 90s Pop station on Pandora. Talk about nostalgia! I rediscovered some old favorites, and created a playlist that fit the themes of my story.

Dreams – The Cranberries
There She Goes – Sixpence None the Richer
You Gotta Be – Des’ree
Head Over Feet – Alanis Morissette
Kiss Me – Sixpence None the Richer
Truly Madly Deeply – Savage Garden
Angel of Mine – Monica
This Is Your Night – Amber
She’s So High – Tal Bachman
Waiting for Tonight – Jennifer Lopez
Iris – Goo Goo Dolls
Ordinary World – Duran Duran
Don’t Speak – No Doubt
Hold My Hand – Hootie & the Blowfish

I loved putting together this playlist, specifically writing while listening to the first two songs. Dreams by The Cranberries portrayed my main character’s vulnerabilities and desire for companionship. I consider There She Goes by Sixpence None the Richer to be the theme song for this month’s project, since it was a woman singing about a woman, fitting in well with the characters’ LGBT romance. (I listened to the 90s station upon finishing the book, and the first song that came on was There She Goes by Sixpence None the Richer. Followed by Montell Jordan’s This Is How We Do It, because Pandora wanted me to have a celebration track.)

Another session, another novella written. The whole project reacquainted me with myself as a child. Though I miss the magic of childhood, there is the magic of the future that I am looking forward to. This novella served its purpose; it brought me through the journey of woman to child and back to woman. And even though I’ve grown older and I’ve gathered more experiences, I am still the same soul that I was in the 90s.


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