MIGHTY PEN: Isla Stevens
WAHOO and CONGRATS to Isla Stevens, another of our growing list of NaNoWriMo18 winners! So glad you became a Mighty Pen this year–although I’m sure you’re even more excited about it than me. It was great to have you on the team, and I’m glad that we managed to make a difference for your experience.
Read on to learn a little about Isla, and be sure to send her your congrats!
Interview with a Mighty Pen: Isla Stevens
What’s one thing that changed in your expectations for your project from November 1 to now?
Ohhh man the idea that the the story might be anywhere near complete. Stock and Stone is fantasy – I knew that most fantasy novels clock in a lot higher than 50K, but I also didn’t think I had enough to write a full length fantasy novel. My aim was to write 50k as a diving off point for a longer draft, but when I wrote the scene that in my head had been the close of the novel, I realised it actually happens around the 1/3 mark, and I have the rest of the story to fully figure out in 2019. Here be dragons! (Possibly literally).
What moment in NaNoWriMo18 stands out the most to you?
Probably the last couple of days – I’m a part-time student, and during the middle of the month I had an assignment due that took me far more time than I’d expected, which put me severely behind on NaNo. By the last three days or so, I still had nearly 20k to write – which came down to 13k on the last day. I crossed the line and validated at 11:30 pm GMT, and it was absolutely and entirely down to the community of people on twitter cheering me on, a mix of offline friends I’ve known for years, and online – some of whom I first spoke to literally on that day – that got me through to the end. The Mighty Pens are an incredible community.
(A close second was fellow Mighty Pen Suzanne gifting me her name for an unnamed character who was about to meet a grisly end. Your sacrifice is noted and appreciated, Suzanne!).
What’s something you’ve learned, or that you’re proud of, from this year’s NaNo?
I’ve been attempting NaNo, on and off, since I was about fourteen. That’s just over ten years ago now (oh god) and this was the first year I’ve won. I’ve come back to fiction writing after a long slump when academic work, ill health, and just generally a series of rough years for myself and my family, had completely drained my creative wells dry. I’ve always written, since I was a wee bairn who could barely hold a pencil, and coming back to it felt so, so hard. It was like sitting down and realising I’d somehow managed to forget how to breathe.
But from that place, I’ve somehow managed to write 50K (!!!) of a story I really believe in. NaNo has taught me the value of just putting one foot in front of the other, and shutting out the little voice that says I can’t, in favour of all the much louder, lovelier voices of a community cheering for each other. You guys rule. <3
Any advice for yourself or others for next year’s NaNo, if you’re able to participate again?
Definitely try some form of outlining. It doesn’t have to be anything super detailed, but for me nothing helped more when I was stuck (particularly picking up again after that absence in the middle) than having a pile of notecards, each with an individual scene idea written on them. When the blank page loomed large, I essentially lucky dipped a card out of the pile and just started where it launched me.
So….see you all next year? 😉