Nightmares of NaNos Past and Present

Oh. My. Gosh.

So, I was finishing the draft for chapter 27, and it hit me: I’m… I’m almost done with The Nightmares of Under-London.


This book. I mean. It’s been four years in the making. That absolutely blows my mind.

I remember sitting down at my desk, tucked in the corner in my dining room/kitchen, back in May of 2012, and thinking to myself, “Okay, who’s my main character?”

I pounded out the first three chapters in a tizzy, put them down, and came to them a week later. I realized I completely didn’t like what it was or where it was going.

So I did a different first three chapters.

Which was followed by three more different drafts of the first chapter.

Which was then followed by another hash session, where I whipped out the post-it notes and broke it down.

So I tried another three chapters.

And then I did the post-it notes again. I agonized over trying to make this thing work, in the sense of making what I wanted and making it functionally sound and something I could be proud of. My partner in crime, Anne, can attest to all of the late-night coffee sessions, the myriad of half-crazed emails, the flurries of texts and innumerable moments of, “What the hell am I doing? I should defenestrate my computer and live in a cave for the rest of my life.” 

One such night, circa January 2014, probably around 2AM. This was the least blurry of the pictures–there were literal anime speedlines. I think my stupid faces may have made Anne come close to peeing herself, such was our delirium.

Anne has talked me down from this course of action probably ten different times now, if not more.

I wrote the first full draft back in 2013 for NaNoWriMo in a caffeine-fueled fever-dream. If I remember correctly, that may have been the year Anne, a friend, and I all danced around a bonfire as an invocation to the NaNo gods? Anyway. I sat on it for a month. I came back to it in January and realized I liked it, but I could still see (and therefore fix) some of the structural errors, a handful of plot-holes and whatnot.

So I struggled with rebuilding it for another year, and tried again for NaNo ’14. That’s where I found the rest of the problems.

I wasn’t able to do much with it last year, because Real Life got in the way for a while, but when I came back to it last fall, I knew I’d finally found it.

It’s taken me this whole past year just to write this draft. And now I’m only a few chapters away from it being Done. Like, Done-Done.

It’s… weirdly freeing, in its own way. I can track how far I’ve come, how much I’ve grown as a writer just toiling on this one work. I thought, halfway through this mess, back in ’14 or so, that I’d have all these same problems whenever I got to the next book. But I don’t think I will.

I know I’ll need a little hiatus to make sure I’ve got the next plot as intricately mapped out as I need it to be, but otherwise? I know where it’s going. I know my characters, and I know the universe. I know it’s not going to take me another four years, hahahaha.




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