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November 14, 2012

Road Trip Wednesday: Legos and NaNo

Kate Hart
I'm not doing NaNo. I never have, which is not to say I never will, but right now, I am waist-deep in revisions of a book I've been writing for-ev-er. However, my goal is have a decent draft to my agent by Thanksgiving, which makes me feel like I'm doing a November sprint with everyone else. It also means that when Sarah Enni organized YA Highway's Carpool Lane newsletter for November,* I was glad that my assignment was motivation and inspiration, because those are things I'm most in need of.

As I've complained shared before, my current 78K draft sits atop a cut file of roughly 450K words. Seriously. Basically, my brain has looked like this:

Yay! Legos are fun! But there are so many. And so many colors and shapes and wait, this kit has directions? Are there rules I'm supposed to be following? Maybe I should smash it and start over. Okay but this big green piece, that's a pretty solid base, right? Maybe. I like this gray one though. Okay, so walls. Maybe some over here... this thing here.... and voila! A book castle-thingy!

I didn't really build this. My kids did.

It looks.... pretty good! I mean, it's recognizable as something resembling a book castle. But I don't know what's up with that random tree. Or that car that appears to be crashing into the front door. Or that inexplicably dead horse. I mean, it's a better place to be than drowning in words Legos. But it's still not much compared to this:

credit: aidsley at Flickr

At which point I want to take my toys and go home.

Luckily, some of my favorite writers don't just inspire me through books-- they also have great blogs. For instance, Laini Taylor's "A Dollhouse Metaphor for Writing":
"You know how rearranging a room is so rewarding? Well, dollhouses are no different. And ... are you ready for this? Manuscripts are no different either!"
Or Gayle Forman's "Doors and Books and Doors to Books":
"You start out with this solid mass. A 60-year-old door. An 80,000 word document. Same diff. They are both large and unwieldy and kind of ugly. Yet, you suspect somewhere within this mass is something better, something worthy, something you want to display to the world. But first, you have to dig it out of all the layers of crap."

Or Kristin Cashore's "Advice to New Writers":
"In the end -- and I mean this 100% -- what matters is what you think of your book. Don't get me wrong, this can change based on the intelligent commentary of others. Speaking personally, criticism by others has absolutely helped me to see my own books more clearly, in all their flaws. But don't forget that some of the people who express reactions to your books will actually be judging a green triangle as if it is a failed attempt at a yellow square. Those criticisms hurt, but they're not actually relevant to your process. It's safe to let them go."

What keeps you from driving a Tonka truck through the walls of your Lego castle (and over your laptop while you're at it)? Head to YA Highway and leave a link in the comments, then see what inspires and motivates other writers.


*This newsletter is really fantastic so far, and I say that honestly and objectively because my contributions don't go out until next week. So seriously: you should be subscribed to this thing.


  1. Oww some really great quotes here - I love it!

  2. Honestly, my favorite thing you shared was how much you cut. As a first-time NaNo-er (and a total writing novice, really) I've been anxious that there's some limit to how much you should have to revise--people are so skeptical that NaNo drafts can even be useful, but I've never gotten a draft past 7,000 words and today I hit 25,000, so it seems useful to ME...I just thought maybe I was doing it wrong since I know for sure I will be doing ALL THE REVISION FOREVER after this is over. So it's really nice to hear that I will be in good company having to SERIOUSLY wrestle a first draft into submission when I'm done with it. Thanks :)

  3. I love the Lego analogy! Good luck hitting your Thanksgiving deadline. :)


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