Back from Camp NaNo!

Roasting marshmallows Meadow Brook Resort.Steven Depolo.Flickr

Photo credit: Steven Depolo

Wow, am I ready for some roasted marshmallows* and hot cocoa now!

If you don’t know what Camp NaNoWriMo is, I described it back at the beginning of the month, so read here first: Heading back to Camp!

As I explained back then, my goal for Camp NaNo was to submit 25,000 words’ worth of stories to publications.  I sat down with my huge spreadsheet of places that accept short fiction, and my long list of stories in various states of revision, and MADE A PLAN.  Seriously, just making the plan took most of the first weekend of Camp.  Still, it felt great to get organized.

But you know what they say about the best-laid plans…

…they work better than no plan at all!  Yes!

Isn’t that what they say?  Well, they should.

Most of the stories needed a fair amount of revision, and it was frustrating that those hours and words didn’t “count” for Camp NaNo.  I was doing all this work, but my numbers on the stats page still weren’t going up!  Which of course, it exactly why this goal was so motivating for me: because it forced me to stop revising and send those suckers out! 

Side note: It helps that I gave myself “credit” for the words I revised because they counted toward my Project 10K monthly goal.  If you’d like a little accountability with your monthly writing goals, feel free to join our little P10K movement — everyone’s welcome, just click here.

In the end, I had to scramble.  I didn’t get as many of my “big” stories revised and out as I was hoping.  But I got just over the 25,000 mark.  25,267, to be exact.


Combined with the four smaller pieces I already had out (three submitted just in March), I currently have out:

  • 3 short stories (4,000+ words)
  • 5 flash fiction stories (~1,000 words)
  • 4 micro fiction stories (< 300 words)

For a total of 12!  Okay, I know that sounds like peanuts to real professionals, especially since some of them are super short.  But most of these are submitted to paying magazines, including a few with professional rates.  And most importantly, this is three times more than my highest number out at one time, the record I set only the previous month!  It’s definitely an improvement, and I was super happy about it.

I ran around the apartment singing an improvised rap song titled “Yay 4 Me” where I rhymed the words “done” and “won” in as many combinations as I could think of.

That exuberance lasted for about a day, and now I’m already back to stressing out about the remaining five short stories that need to be revised (some of them substantially) and sent out before I can really be DONE.

But boy, won’t that feel good?  Then I can start working on all these other intriguing ideas for stories that I keep having, totally guilt-free.  Yay!

So that’s another Camp NaNo in the bag.  Down the hole.  Straight through the basket, all net, baby.


I couldn’t have done it without the fun and support of my great cabin mates.

Plot Bunnies, you rock! 

In addition to working on getting stories out, I also went to the Los Angeles Festival of Books for the first time — which was amazing!  I saw lots of super cool panel talks.  I also attended a two-day science fiction/literary conference — which was also amazing, not least of which was because it was a small group, so I got to actually hang out with a few big name SF writers and some really fascinating scholars and critics, too. I learned so much and was so inspired!  Both events were totally worth losing time to my Camp NaNo push.

I hope everyone else had a wonderful and productive month!  I’m sorry I haven’t been posting as many stories or commenting on others’ blogs as much as usual. I hope to get a bit more back into the swing in the next couple months — until the next Camp NaNo, in July. Can’t wait!

Happy writing, my friends!

* Footnote: The photo is for my non-American Camp NaNo cabinmates, who were baffled about the whole concept of marshmallows.  Tip one: do NOT eat them raw!  Tip two: this is how they should look when properly roasted: brown and crunchy on the outside and so gooey on the inside that if you’re not careful, it will slip off the stick into the fire before you can grab it.  There is a skill to this, folks.  The one in the photo seems to be a bit too dark for my taste, but I couldn’t find one that was perfectly roasted. But hey, you’re writers: use your imagination!




26 thoughts on “Back from Camp NaNo!

  1. Wow. I’m envious. I only submitted eight short stories for open submission calls during the month of April (I have no idea how much the total word count is), and so far, one story has been rejected twice. Last night after work and supper, I finished the first draft of a (approx.) 9000 word short story that I plan to submit by the end of the month. It still needs a lot of work, but it’s finally all down on (virtual) paper.

    And then there’s the novel to continue writing. Oy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, actually you’re doing even better than me, so I’m envious of you! If you look at my count, I already had four stories out, so I “only” submitted eight short stories in April too. But I needed the push of Camp NaNo to do it. You ROCK, James! And to write a whole 9000 word first draft in one evening? I am amazed!

      I know what you mean about the short stories versus novel. Where to find the time? Plus I have a lot of world building that’s slipped sideways and needs to be rethought and reorganized. It seems to work best for me to focus on one thing at a time, though. So I’m focusing on short stories for May again, then world building in June, and then I get to return to my novel revisions in July for the next Camp NaNo. That’s the “best laid plan” so far, at least.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hold up. I didn’t write a 9000 draft in one evening. I finished the draft. It was about 7500 or 8000 words when I got to it last night to polish it off. Now the editing begins.

        I get that about world building. Both for the short story and my draft, once finished, I’ll need to go back and fix all the inconsistencies I introduced. Yikes.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Well, I’m still impressed. I’ve been trying to revise the same @#$# 1,000 word scene in the middle of one of my short stories for a week now and it completely refuses to cooperate.

        My world building problems are, literally, epic. Remember that all the stories I write are in the same world. So every time I introduce a new holiday or saying or type of clothing or mention what the weather is like somewhere, I need to keep track of where & when that fits in. Problem is, I have (I recently counted) almost 800 pages of world bible in five different files, at least half of which is made obsolete by the other, newer half. I could have sworn it was well organized to begin with, but twenty years later… not so much. I sat down to figure out what steps to do first, and ended up listing 18 separate tasks, any one of which could take at least a whole weekend. And yet I’ve only devoted the month of June to getting this done. So… yeah, I’m not very good at time management!


    • That’s still amazing James! Awesome job with the 12 stories. I feel your pain, those rejections are tough, but O try to see everyone as a stepping stone, right?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m impressed Joy. That’s amazing and great work. I’ve 4 poems still to finish for NaPoWriMo and a novel with only 6 chapters revised in 3rd draft for my fiction course. So yes, I’m super impressed! I know the point of NaNo and my course is to write a certain amt everyday but sometimes I think having less with quality or some fixing as you did at first, isn’t the worst thing. Best of luck 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Amanda – and it sounds like you’re getting a lot done too! I agree though, that the number of words isn’t as important as having words that are getting you closer to a final draft. I know a lot of people who just *plow* through NaNo in the last few days, and I can’t help but think that writing all those words so quickly, with no time to think between sessions, must result in lower quality. I’ve also heard plenty of people complain about their NaNo experience because they pushed through like this, and then were frustrated that they ended up with writing they couldn’t use. (For me, the answer to that is planning ahead and outlining — that really helps me stay on track — but I know some folks don’t like that approach.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree. I’m in the middle. I’m pantsed because then I know what comes next, what I’m writing about, and I can also keep characters acting like themselves and not undergoing personality changes.
        However, the chapters, the ambience and Words, dialogue etc. Kind of take the way they take to achieve what I want that chapter. It will probably need editing for many hours after, but it’s worth it in the end 🙂
        Anyways great job again 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • There’s always a little bit of pantsing — or discovery writing — I would say. Even when I start out with a clear idea of the main things that I want to happen in a chapter, it develops interesting bits as I write that I didn’t anticipate. And no matter what, yes, LOTS of revising afterward!


  3. It’s brilliant that you achieved so much, AND went to book fests and conferences. My goal might have been higher, but I nailed myself to the desk to do it. Okay, twice took the camera for walk. Here’s to you achieving yet more in July!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Crispina! It’s mostly the full time job that gets in the way, though. I took several vacation days off in November for NaNoWriMo but I don’t do that for Camp NaNo, since I can reduce my goal instead. I’ll have to think carefully about what goal to set for July, since I’ll be missing at least one weekend then, too. At the rate you’re going, you might be on the last book by then! Well, first, let’s see what we can do in May. Good luck to both of us!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Congratulations, that’s great! I figure that any time I just barely make the deadline, that’s a good sign that I set my goal at a good, challenging place. Or… that maybe I sloughed off too much in the beginning. I’ll admit to a few evenings of that, too. (blush)

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You’ve achieved so much – you really are amazing to do all of that, your other writerly jaunts and hold down a full time job. My output feels paltry compared to both yours and James’. Must stop writing blog posts and write more stories! Thank you again for a lovely CampNaNo – can’t imagine a more supportive, creative bunch of gals 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • We all do make a great team, don’t we! I feel like I didn’t get *nearly* as much done as I had hoped. I sat down to chart out when I can revise the rest of the stories, and when I can do the world building tasks that I’ve planned for June, and … yeah, there is NO WAY this is going to get done before the next Camp NaNo. There are just not enough weekends and evenings on the calendar!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Congrats on accomplishing so much this month! Unfortunately, I had job issues and sickness that kept me from participating this time. Hopefully I can get back in the habit of writing regularly this month.
    Good luck on getting those stories published!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Megan – we missed you at camp! Bummer that you couldn’t participate after all. I’m glad to see you back online, that’s a great sign. Good luck getting back into the writing gear!

      Liked by 1 person

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