The #Wattpad Dare (or, why I’m not doing #NaNoWriMo this year)

I love National Novel Writing Month with its “Thirty Days and Nights of Literary Abandon.” Hell, I’ve got a sweatshirt with that very phrase on the back. (This image, in fact. The fingerprints are sparkly!)nano

50,000 words in thirty days is no meager feat, especially when one’s arms are literally being pulled from the keyboard. When trains are being launched at the keyboard. When the goldfish crackers aren’t in the right bowl. When a red car goes missing and the screaming won’t stop until you find it. No not that red car, the RED car. THE REEEEED CAAAAAAAR!!! (For the louder one shrieks, the better I will apparently know which hue of red out of the two dozen red cars is the “right” red car.) Despite all that, I managed to crank out 800-1000 words in an hour twice a day, teach some students, and occasionally sleep.

Out of the hundred-some pages I produced every November, approximately a dozen, maybe two, were any good. What a waste, right?

Never. In the writing groove I discovered images of a power and vibrance I never knew were in me. Little touches of world-building just appear with the same magic of Bash walking in with a toy no one could find for weeks, and be damned if those touches ain’t just perfect for the story at large.  Above all, @NaNoWriMo will always hold a special place in my heart because it helped me win the first battle with postpartum.

Some years, though, there is no denying that one more goal, however low-stake, just can’t be added. I didn’t participate the year my sons were born, for instance–already teaching, babies with stereo colic. Blondie asking when we could take the babies back to the hospital.

No. Nursing both boys football-style while talking on a headset about thesis statements was hard enough.

This year looks to be another one of those “don’t be stupid and make it worse–you’ve got enough” kinds of November: teaching, mothering, potty training (dear GOD give me strength), blogging, writing…


Yes, I said writing.

This past summer I surrendered myself to fiction: I would write the story of a character based on a world  already created.  In a way you can consider it fanfic–after all, I didn’t do any of the world-building, and the protagonist was a creation assigned to me–but I soon learned that while I was writing in a world already built, my protagonist and her piece of the world had yet to be defined. 

Over the past few months, my protagonist Meredydd has marched with me through some very mucked-up territory. She’s also introduced me to her fellow Shield Maiden recruits, each with her own story to share.

Good Lord, I have a series.

The challenge, though, is how to put them in readers’ hands. I suppose I could go the traditional route, or even the self-pub route, but honestly, I just want to share the stories. I can’t work out their marketability without readers, anyway, and writing Young Adult fantasy is a pretty specific niche. I can’t bug kids at my daughter’s school, because that involves using my real name. I prefer keeping my writing life separate and safe, where I can lay out past pain and uncover unknown strength.

Time to Wattpad it up.

Michael Dellert once wrote that Wattpad is “the kid’s table of publishing.” It’s a free platform where writers can post stories and readers can post their comments. No shot at getting paid, just as the wine never leaves the adults’ table. Good thing I’m a near-teetotaler. (Never been a fan of my grandfather’s taste in zinfandel anyway.)

Having readers of age who will tell me what they think, and therefore help me grow as a writer, will be akin to the sweetest of Grandma’s sweet potatoes. Sure, I’d love a massive heap of NaNoWriMo stuffing, too, but there’s only so much one body can take. Wattpad will require a discipline of writing under pressure and sharing rough work with strangers. That plus all the other obligations of life Out Here fills my plate quite enough, thank you.

Middler's PrideWith book cover and Wattpad banner (it greeted you above the post) completed, I could work on a book blurb.

Which, um, I had never done.

Quick, to the Diana Wynne Jones shelf!

I plucked up Volume One of The Dalemark Quartet. Her blurbs for both Cart and Cwidder and Drowned Ammet are quite succinct. For Cart and Cwidder: “Traveling musician Moril has inherited a cwidder said to have belonged to one of the Undying. Can he learn to harness its strange powers in time to prevent an invasion?” For Drowned Ammet: “To avenge his father’s death, Mitt has joined a plot to assassinate the tyrannical Earl Hadd. But when everything goes wrong, he finds himself on a storm-tossed sea in a bot with his enemies.”

Both fixate on the character and the problem at hand. Both are right around thirty words.


Three drafts later…

After a humiliating dinner with a suitor, Meredydd sees only a dull life ahead, destined to crush her heroic spirit—that is, until she’s accepted into the Shield Maidens. Surely nothing but glory and adventure await, right? And they do…if Mer can first overcome the most dangerous enemy of all: herself.

51 words, but still: protagonist and problem, fitted together.

Next comes the Author’s Note. I needed to state I would be sharing both character sketches and scenes, as well as when they’ll be published. I also wanted to give readers a sense of where this story came from.


Middler’s Pride sprouts from two places: Michael Dellert’s Matter of Manred saga, and Diana Wynne Jones’ Dalemark Quartet. Dellert’s land of Droma is rich with conflict and beauty, but his Matter of Manred saga only focuses on select portions of this landscape. What begins as a bit of fanfic in his world has grown into its own world and its own characters.  Herein lies the origin of Meredydd of the Shield Maidens.

But what to do with Mer was another matter entirely. That’s where Jones’ Dalemark Quartet inspired me. Each amazing adventure in the series centers on one youth. Often the youth has some serious growing up to do in order to overcome whatever villainy is at work. I wanted Mer to have just such an adventure as well as that growing up. Herein lies the origin of her fellow Shield Maidens, the evil sorcerer known only as the Cat Man, and the most elusive, destructive enemy of all:

Her pride.


So you see, I can’t do NaNoWriMo this year. Next year, perhaps, I’ll happily lose myself in thirty days and nights of literary abandon. Until then, enjoy an adventure or four with Mer and her comrades.

Click here for Middler’s Pride, and here for my Wattpad profile.


39 thoughts on “The #Wattpad Dare (or, why I’m not doing #NaNoWriMo this year)

      • Oh no, he’s dead!?!

        Oddly enough, my name is made of my parents’ middle names. That might just be the Fourth Commandment embedded into my psyche (“Honor Thy Father and Mother, etc etc”), especially since I always hated my “common” real name (I had, like, two dozen classmates with the same name in high school). But for some reason the simple Midwestern strength of “Jean Lee” felt right.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Back in my PI days I used to play mix and match with the names of fraudsters using false identities for inevitably when choosing their new name they always left a link back to their actual names…what fun it was playing that game! I seek a new name for this book I’m still labouring away at…all the ones I’ve come up with so far are silly!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. My darling . Tail chasing today but I promise you I will be coming back to click that link. I love the cover . I saw the girl first as I came over here and it had Gwen written all over her. So proud of you. And listen never mind NaNo, do it your way xxxxxxxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • How dare that tail demand chasing! 🙂
      Yes, that’s what I thought, too. It’s the eyes, right? LOVE them.
      It’s because of this Wattpad work that I feel better about *not* doing NaNo. If I weren’t writing fiction already, I would definitely give it another go. I’ve completed the 50K challenge four times now, and would have liked another go with this TOTALLY random Middle-Grade adventure idea, but that idea can always wait another year. 🙂
      Speaking of–caught the Facebook post where you said you’ve got the cover to your latest in hand. When I’m done climbing over the latest mountain of grading, I’m coming round for a lookie-loo! 🙂 xxxxxxxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. First off, I LOVE LOVE LOVE the cover!

    I’m ALL about book cover design these days, & you & Michael’s did a fab job.
    Vivid and eye-catching, to say the least!

    I used to not be such a fan of NaNoWriMo, but you changed my opinion with one sentence:

    “Above all, @NaNoWriMo will always hold a special place in my heart because it helped me win the first battle with postpartum.”

    If it helped you during that time (and I’ll read that post!) I’m 100% behind it!
    I’m very proud of you for doing this, Lady J. Keep tweeting that link and I’ll keep retweeting it. I just wish I didn’t lose my 1000+ followers. Sigh.

    One last thing…

    The line “Michael Dellert once wrote that Wattpad is “the kid’s table of publishing” reminded me of a site called Publishizer I stumbled across yesterday. While the site has nothing to do with writing projects like WattPatt, it looked very interesting. I know you wrote that you want a platform where you can share your work under your pseudonym, and Wattpad sounds perfect. But for some wackadoodle reason I feel compelled to post the link while it’s on my mind. It might be of interest to you and some of your followers .

    Check this out:

    It was fun to see how many agents were interested in these books (and how many of the books sold) here:

    XOXO off to drink Rocket Fuel….☕️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, thank you, O Lovely Java Queen! I think NaNo is a brilliant way of getting stuff DOWN; if you’re a planner, NaNo can be total torture, though, because unless you’ve got it all planned before hand, there’s no chance to pause. You HAVE to write just shy of 2K words a day to beat the challenge, and that pressure really beat down on my psyche some days. The first time I participated, I was always behind, but I SO wanted to beat it. I wrote 10K words in one day.
      Yeah, don’t recommend that.
      That said, NaNo is all about creating community–Madison has a group that likes to meet a few times in November as well as in spring for the Camp NaNo!
      Camp NaNo might be a touch more your flavor, if the 50K in 30 days isn’t your thing. You establish your own goals, and you can create “cabins” of writer’s groups so you can collaborate and/or encourage other writers.
      You lost all your followers?!?! Oh, because of the haitus? That DOES suck, but you’ll get them back! The Power of Coffee compels you! 😛
      Ooooo…I’m scoping this out right now, and this looks pretty cool! I’ll need to dig through it more–and check on what’s happening on your side of the country!–when I’m done with my fresh pile of grading.
      Bah, these students!
      Off I ago, and thank you ever so much for your awesomeness! xxxxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lady Jean I am so proud of you. You’re talented lady make no mistake. Hit it at your own pace. Better to do that than churn something out that is maybe not you, just for the sake of churning. I loved your wattpad story. Your world building is brilliant. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Jean- this is fantastic! I’m so excited that you’re taking this step, and that now I have a NEW place to go and read your stories! (Sigh, too bad, I may have to go on that link later rather than doing dishes… I mean, supporting friends is way more important, right?:) Hugs!

    Liked by 1 person

    • LOL! I did the same with laundry. Only when Bo is rummaging around the house for clean undergarments did I resign myself to setting the Wattpad prep aside to wash clothes. Well hey, the boys have clean pants again, too! Yay!
      Hugs, my friend. 🙂 Don’t be afraid to get on Wattpad when you’re ready! xxxxx


      • Hey, T had that same hunt today! I figure it adds a little adventure to our lives. “Will there be clean forks and clothes today? Where DID that diaper go that I forgot to throw away immediately? Ah the suspense!” Whew. Me, putting writing out in public… I’m not sure that I’m as brave as you. Scratch that, I’m certain that I’m NOT! I am slowly easing towards the point where I can share “the story” with people I know and trust, much less people who aren’t obligated to be at least a little nice to me in their critiques 🙂 Many thanks for the encouragement, though. I’m just so excited for YOU, you amazing writer you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • LOL I’ve had that diaper hunt, too!

        Hey, you’ll reach that point. It took me six years–basically from getting back into writing when Blondie was a baby. And that story is STILL not done, as you know. 😉
        Take your time, Friend. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


  5. Pingback: When your old #writing experiment transforms into a series of #shortstories, you find yourself in #RiverVine. | Jean Lee's World

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