Save for last year, I have always managed to pass the 50K threshold. That part is easy. But when it comes to actually finishing projects I start during NaNoWriMo, my success rate hovers somewhere around the not-so-great. Let's do a quick rundown of my attempts:
1. The Kingmaker, political thriller. My attempt at being the next David Baldacci or something. I had such a horrible time writing this one that I made it to 50,020 words and then stopped and never wanted to pick it up again. I didn't think I wanted to do NaNo again and then November rolled around and I decided to try...
2. Archer's Velvet, contemporary fantasy. A modern day acid trip of a tale that was like Alice in Wonderland having a mutant love child with Carl Jung. I had a lot more passion about this project than I did The Kingmaker, but it suffered from being the literary equivalent of formless vomit. It did have its moments that I liked, but not enough for me to feel motivated enough to finish it. Made it a little bit past 50K again, collected my winner's badge, and then put it away.
3. The Stargazers, YA contemporary fantasy. The only completed piece of work that has come out of NaNoWriMo, about a coven of witches from another world who has some kind curse and blah blah blah. I don't know. While I still have a bit of a soft spot for this story, it was pretty convoluted, and it came out of the oven partially baked. I had it up for sale on Amazon for awhile, but I eventually took it down because other readers pretty much agreed and it wasn't selling. Also, the book suffered from not quite knowing what it wanted to be. I was trying for YA but it had too many adult elements. Ultimately, this book was the result of me trying to write to the market rather than the book I actually wanted to write. If I ever learned anything from writing The Stargazers, it's to never, ever write to the market.
4. The Shiva Paradox, science fiction. This is the novel expansion of my short story, The Shiva Apparatus, which appeared in The Endlands Volume 2 and you can now buy individually on Amazon with the preview of Paradox in it. It's a hard sci-fi spacey time travel adventure with a dark twist that I have recently learned unwittingly has echoes of a Doctor Who storyline. I love this story and this universe and I actually DO hope to finish it someday, but it keeps getting overridden by other projects that demand more of my time. I'm not even going to predict when I'll have it done, though. It'll be finished when it's finished.
Last year, I was going to attempt to write a sequel to my vampire spoof Scarlet Letters (which, like The Stargazers, is no longer on sale). But last year, on my birthday, I completed my novel STRINGS (which is set to release on my birthday THIS year), and after everything that book put me through emotionally, I found I could not jump right in to writing comedy. And I was just so tired from the monumental effort of banging out over 80,000 words in the course of that month, I decided to just sit it out last year. Ironically, I could finish a novel in a month, just as long as it wasn't during November.
Now I'm back with a decision to make. I know I want to do NaNoWriMo. I would like to get a project completed or most of the way completed by year's end, but I have two competing ideas. I can either start on the novel expansion of my new short story, "Devil Riders," (I sure do have a thing for turning short stories into novels, don't I?) or I can get a really big jump on the next book in the STRINGS series. On the one hand, the Devil Riders story would be a fun new thing to focus on. On the other, with all the work I'm doing promoting Strings, my head is very much in that universe with these characters. I don't think there will be another time when this book will be as fresh in my mind as it is now, and if I've learned anything about sequels, it's that it's really hard to write a story that picks up right where the other one left off if you let too much time pass. At least it is for me.
I already have one chapter of Strings written, but I have no qualms about "cheating." I think Devil Riders can wait a little bit longer. Given the buzz that's building around Strings as of this moment, I don't think it would be wise to rest on my laurels with getting the next book out.
I guess I've already made my decision, then. See you NaNo-heads at the finish line.