NaNoReViSo: Week 1

Written by Charli Mills

Charli Mills, a born buckaroo, makes literary art accessible at She writes about the veteran spouse experience and women forgotten to history.

November 2, 2015

NaNoReViSo2015NanoReviSo is an acronym of my own making. It’s a nod to one of my favorite drafting tools, NaNoWriMo, which officially began yesterday, but acknowledgement of where I’m at in my writing process this November — revision.

Week 1 began with a bang; I might have broken my big toe. It’s swollen in all the wrong places and is a purple bloom of bruising. It’s my big toe on my left foot which has been my tripping toe for years. It’s the toe that I thought would cause me to break other bones, but ironically, I broke it and on the eve of NaNoReViSo.

It reminds me that I will revise Rock Creek by December 15, “no matter what.” No matter if I feel overwhelmed by the volume of material I have. No matter if I doubt my plot arc. No matter if I have holes in my history that I can’t find plausible answers for, including an entire year (1858) when none of my historical counterparts to my characters did anything. It’s like 1858 slunk into a fog. No matter. I’ll get this.

Even if I did break my toe.

What’s a big toe to a writer anyhow? Well, it can become a distraction. Distractions are why I’ve set an hourly increment to two vital processes, revising and reading. Revising is much messier than drafting. It’s parts of writing: part dismantling, part tinkering, part building up, part organizing, part tightening. When you are dealing with 70,000 words or more, it’s like looking at a Lego creation, one piece at a time strewn across the floor. Reading is yet another part. I need to find unanswered history questions, re-read vital primary documents, read chapters and scenes with a critical eye. Distractions easily upset the process.

Thus, I’m using hourly increments the way NaNoWriMo fights distraction through a daily word count.

I’m hoping to discover revision bliss. NaNoWriMo helped me discover that my drafting bliss occurs at word 900. It can feel like painful slogging to write a scene up to 900 words, but after that, the story takes shape or the characters reveal themselves through dialog and the remaining words flow. Will I find that with revision? I hope so!

My plan is to dive in and not be intimidated by the work I know I need to do. I have historical timelines to shore up and an arc to build from my idea of the original arc I wrote. I might have made this too complex, writing from multiple points of view (POV) and starting with a story timeline that weaves in and out of the 1930s and the 1850s, all headed to a final revelation of what really happened July 12, 1852 at Rock Creek Station in Nebraska Territory. I have to be prepared to defend my theories, my fiction that is rooted in fact and a plausible conclusion.

No distractions 5 hours a day while attending to other responsibilities and icing my purple toe. I prepared by creating to-do lists for the other responsibilities over the next six weeks and by designating a week off, even from those tasks. I prepared by finishing out the last of the firewood hauling from the mountains (and the weather agrees with my plan, it’s now to muddy and snow has hit the higher elevations). I prepared by cleaning my house, decorating with fall candles and leaves, shopping to stock up my pantry and freezer with groceries, and baking a cake.

It was in baking the cake (not hauling firewood) that I broke my toe. Who breaks their toe mixing batter for a yellow buttermilk cake? Me, apparently. I accidentally knocked over my heavy Pyrex measuring cup and it landed square on my big toe and felt like an iron rock. Kitchen accidents do happen, but they seem ridiculous. Sympathy withers when you say, “Oh, I did it baking a cake.” Was it somebody’s birthday? An anniversary?

No, it was just the start of NaNoReViSo.

To all my fellow writers doing (or not doing) NaNoWriMo and to my special NaNoReViSo buddy, Sherri Matthews, go punch someone in the gut! Make those readers feel your words! Stay the course, no matter what.

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  1. Annecdotist

    Oh, Charli, your poor toe! Do take care, and soothe yourself with cake. At least it wasn’t your finger!

    • Charli Mills

      Oh, you’re so right — a finger could have had repercussions! And the dog ate the cake! It just wasn’t meant to be. πŸ™‚

  2. jan

    Oh dear. I never thought baking a cake was so dangerous!

    • Charli Mills

      I must have had revision nerves! πŸ™‚

  3. C. Jai Ferry

    You were just getting all the bad juju out of the way. Nothing can stop you now! If you had to injure yourself, I’m glad it is an injury that doesn’t keep you from your passion πŸ™‚

    • Charli Mills

      I like that idea — bad juju out of the way. And it is an injury that requires my backside on a chair.

  4. Lisa Reiter

    Ouch! Ice ice baby (and some leg elevation part way through your day. ) Hoping that soon feels better and even more, looking forward to all there is to learn about your revision process. Good luck Charli xx

    • Charli Mills

      Ice has done wonders! Yes, elevation. Thanks!

  5. Gulara

    Sorry to hear about your toe. And I am doing Nanoreviso too. πŸ™‚

    • Charli Mills

      It’s surprisingly more colorful than it is painful. πŸ™‚ Revising on the other hand, feels more painful than colorful, but I’m slogging through it. It’s work that needs to be done. Best to you in your NaNoReViSo!

      • Gulara

        I can relate to pain of revising – I haven’t managed to even start yet, and it feels painful already!

      • Charli Mills

        It’s a different kind of focus and I’m hoping to train my brain to it. πŸ™‚

  6. Sherri

    Ouch and more ouch! Hope your toe is feeling better today Charli! I’m punching that dough at least, if not the gut!!! Here’s to revision bliss for us both…ever hopeful πŸ™‚

    • Charli Mills

      I have to colored gel pens out now! If it’s messy, it’s going to be colorful! Bring on some bliss! πŸ™‚

  7. Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

    Don’t let that toe stop you Charli. Perhaps it might be a blessing in disguise as easier to sit at your desk with toe elevated in ice, revising than hobbling round the ranch bringing in the firewood. Go cowgirl and get it done.

    • Charli Mills

      Thanks, Irene! I’m swiveling in my chair without nary a hobble! The Hub even rubbed my back. πŸ˜‰

      • Charli Mills

        Until he figured out I could walk well enough to go get more firewood! I should have milked it longer…

  8. paulamoyer

    Marvelous thoughts on the pain and joy of revising, Charli. All the best with the toe and the Rock Creek revisions!

    • Charli Mills

      Day three and the toe is still less painful than the revising. How’s the writing at NaNoWriMo going?

  9. TanGental

    Toe, smoe – you’ll nail it cowboy! And the dog got the cake, huh? I had a similar experience – bought myself a coffee and a rather nice piece of apple turnover at a local cafe, put them down while I collected Dog from where he was tied up and when turned around a bloody crow had half inched the turnover and was making his getaway. I had to share Dog’s biscuits.

    • Charli Mills

      Ha, ha! That’s a bold crow! Nothing quite like the let-down of not getting to eat one’s own treat. Carry on!

  10. Sarah Brentyn

    Oh, no! You broke your toe? While trying to work on NaNoReviSo? (Sorry…it just came out that way.) Sorry. Hope you’re feeling okay.

    I just had a visceral reaction when I read “Lego creation”. Keep those bloody things away from me. Also, if I were to break my toe, it would definitely be in the kitchen attempting to bake.

    Feel better and best of luck to you (with everything)! <3

    • Charli Mills

      Lego creation is exactly how it feels right now…revision, not the toe. Revision is more painful. πŸ˜‰

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