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NaNoWriMo 2023, the Christmas Season, and Kell’s Life

by Kellyn Roth |
December 6, 2023

I haven’t done a life update on this blog in forever, and granted, I will probably recycle some information from my email list (which you should subscribe to now!), but now feels like the time. So let’s not hesitate. Let’s get into it!

NaNoWriMo 2023

NaNoWriMo 2023 … did not go as planned.

But I did win! For the 10th time in the row! (Or the 9th, in terms of years, as I started in 2014, but it’s been 10x in 9 years … I know, it’s confusing.)

Let’s talk about that.

The Novel

As some of you may know, I was writing the second novel in The Hilton Legacy trilogy, Like the Air After Rain – AKA Lorelei’s story. I’m not quite done with it yet, but I’ve made some significant progress in it.

Below is the original blurb.

the original blurb

Lorelei Hilton is on the cusp of an arranged marriage to a spineless boy chosen by her father for the purpose of maintaining the family business. After years of being manipulated and talked down to, Lorelei has had enough. Determined to remove herself and her sister from the constant supervision of her parents, she set out to find a man with the gumption to stand up to her father.

Aubrey Montgomery has three problems: the care of his adolescent sisters, the managing of his household, and his own loneliness. Over two years have passed since his first proposal was rejected by Cassie Hilton. Although he no longer trusts himself to love a woman properly, he could settle for an amicable, emotionless partnership—if the right woman came along.

After a chance meeting with her sister-in-law’s former suitor, Lorelei discovers she has an ally in Aubrey Montgomery. A marriage of convenience to Aubrey would solve both their problems—provided neither of them becomes emotionally attached.

Unfortunately, that is not longer exactly the plot of the novel. XD

WHY, you ask?

Well, Lorelei is UNCOOPERATIVE.

She is the WORST.


Seriously, Lorelei has DECIDED she will have a DIFFERENT plot and theme and character arc and just EVERYTHING, and I cannot stop her. She’s off doing her own (traumatized) thing, and I can’t control her.

Normally, I beat my characters into submission. But Lorelei is special.

And here’s the truth. Beyond all this joking, I am determined to write a quality novel. So I will finish writing this novel and then rewrite it. I will polish it until it shines.

And whether Lorelei likes it or not, she will have a formulated, completed, properly structured story.

But I’m doing discovery writing to a degree. Oh, I still have the loose structure of the outline, but I’m chasing character arcs and themes as I go now, as the ones I had planned got tossed out the window.

And honestly, that is a slower process than I would prefer. I’m a draft-fast-off-a-solid-outline girl. Though I probably wouldn’t choose to do this again, I am rolling with the punches (as with everything else this year, haha).

My NaNoWriMo

This NaNoWriMo, I completed my goal of 50,000 words with 51,757 by midnight on the 30th. That said, I am so accustomed to 70,000+ months that this feels weird to me.

I should be writing more. And yes, adding 51,757 words to my project (bringing it to a grand total of 66,897 with maybe another 10-20k to go) is a big win, but it’s not as much as I wanted. I hoped to finish this novel in November and then maybe write a little short story at the end of the month.

That didn’t happen.

Further, the progress was not exactly linear.

I started out keeping up with my goals, actually got pretty far ahead, and then … I flatlined. I wrote maybe 50 words one day, 20 another, 10 another, 100-some another.

It was so frustrating.

Three days before the end of the month, I looked up and realized I was more than 15,000 words behind.

As you can see, I wrote between 4,000 and 6,000 words for three days in a row to make up for it. And I did this while sick with the flu. Because you know what? NaNoWriMo means a lot to me, and I’m not about to give up on a challenge. Especially this one.

So yeah, I won my 10th NaNo in a row (though I’ll officially be celebrating 10 years next year). And honestly, it’s both a BIG achievement – and a small one.

It’s a small one because my biggest NaNo was 118k. It’s a small one because my other NaNos have averaged far above 50k. It’s a small one because I didn’t finish the book. It’s a small one because I didn’t do what I wanted to do.

But it’s also a big achievement because I persevered. It’s a big achievement because I won even when I was sure I couldn’t. It’s a big achievement because it proves to myself, at least, that I haven’t lost it – that magic touch, that feeling of wonder at coming out the champion once more.

I’m proud of this NaNoWriMo – and I want to do better in the future. These two ideas can exist simultaneously because we are not robots tied to one black and white way of thinking.

Further, it’s okay if my not-really-a-success is your “would be beyond successful.” We all do things at different paces. It’s both okay for me to feel like this is not the biggest success – and for you to feel like writing 5,000 words in one month is a wondrous, beautiful, party-worthy achievement. The desire to compare is strong. Don’t give in to it.

How did your NaNoWriMo go, if you participated in the challenge? If not, anything you’re proud of yourself for accomplishing in November?

Life Updates

I won’t linger on this section, as I intend to talk more about some of these topics here in the future, and I don’t want to make this post overlong.

That said, November was kind of a tough month for me.

Due to very stressful circumstances beyond my control which caused me no small amount of frustration, I was (and am) off work with Matthias, my little bestie, and I really missed (miss) him and his whole family (especially his mom, who has become a dear friend and mentor to me).

Meanwhile, Matthew and I are going through fertility testing to try to determine why we haven’t been able to have a baby yet – and I found that it both awakened old hurts and added a new level of stress and frustration. I’ve found that there’s fear in the tests coming back with something big, something that means we can’t have children together … but there’s also fear in the tests coming up with nothing, being left with that big empty hole and no “this is the reason.” So far we don’t have any obvious answers, but God knows exactly what, why, and when.

Because of this stress, and because I also got sick for the first time at the very end of the month, I haven’t been feeling great. My nerves are a wreck, and though I know the practical steps to get this under control, the application is tough. Trusting God is tough.

But I’ve found a way to help myself through it.

Lately, I’ve been ticking back through my life, with a mindset of “everything happens for a reason.” I find myself thinking back to the days when I was single and way too young to be worried about it … but still somehow concerned that with every man that wasn’t “the one,” I had somehow missed it. Failed relationships, messages left on read, finally leading me to something so seamlessly effortless that it just … happened. And now I’m in the midst of what I couldn’t bear to pray for, knowing my own obsessive nature would make it an idol.

Now, I pray for for children, and I would do anything to have a family – to have even one baby – but I cannot make it happen. This lies beyond my hands in some magical, faraway realm. (Has anyone ever told you that infertility makes the concept of natural conception unreal? It’s mystical to me. I can’t imagine a world in which I just one day have a positive pregnancy test for no particular reason except that I do. But who knows? It could be next month. I really can’t say.) But as with every other aspect of my life, if it is meant to be, it will happen.

Will it be seamlessly effortless someday just because it’s time … or will God show us another path? Well, I’m not sure. I can’t know. Things never happen the same way twice, after all. So for now, we wait.

I remember jobs I got that I didn’t deserve … and jobs I didn’t receive but felt, at the time, I totally deserved. I don’t think too much about those failed opportunities, but what HAS been brought into my life by God’s Unfailing Hand has been entirely providential and perfectly timed.

The gymnastics secretary job? Perfect timing, perfect first job.

Working with Matthias? Still one of the biggest blessings God ever could have provided me, one that fills me with such wondrous gratitude. (Being on the receiving end of the Lambert family’s love is such a gift. If you’re a local friend who knows them, you get it.)

And now I’m working for the Author Conservatory, and I love it. Literally, I am working my dream job! I’m not sure I could’ve even imagined this a few years ago.

These are only a few of the many examples. Things work out. Even as recently as earlier this year, I can think of things that came together despite seeming impossible (or that, at least, were bearable even in their unpleasantness). God’s timing is perfect.

At this point, there are still some job uncertainties for Matthew and me both, along with all the various baby woes, but as I look back on the life God has ordained, and think of what He may have ordained in the future, I realize that my stress, my worries, my angst are not getting me anywhere. Cheesy as it sounds, God is.

The Upcoming Christmas Season

I think my original intention with this section was to share a little bit about my thoughts for the upcoming Christmas season, but I’ll share that for a different post down the line.

For now, I will say that the holidays are tough for me right now. That said, God is altering my perspective on them, a little bit at a time, from a focus on me, and how I dislike the way my life is going, to an opportunity to serve.

I suppose everything is an opportunity to serve, but more on that later. Like I said, I want to write a full-length post on that, so expect it to come in the next couple weeks!

Anyways, I’ll talk to y’all later. I hope you enjoyed this post! I’d love to hear how you’re doing and what your life looks like!



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2 Responses

  1. *I* think your Nano was fantastic, Kelly. I’m so proud of you for getting 51K, for doing 15K in 3 days while sick, for writing Lorelei when it’s hard. As someone who used to write 120k in two months and now struggles to get 2k out a month, I feel your frustration. But I’m proud of you and I think you did a fantastic job. Also, doing (and winning!) NaNo for 10 years is AWESOME. I’d love that kind of achievement. And 118k in a month is PHENOMENAL.

    I’m sorry about all the life struggles. Thank you for sharing though. It’s so helpful to remember that I’m not really going through anything compared to others… and that I’m not the only one struggling.

    Personally, I’m happy with November. It wasn’t as great as I dreamed. But it was better than I hoped. I finished that stupid story that triggered me for months—and I LIKE IT. I wrote 12k, when I’ve barely written anything for months. It’s good. 🙂

    1. Well, thanks, Katja! I am proud of those last few days. It makes me feel a lot better, given that I’ve gone from easily writing several books in a short period of time (as recently as 2021) to now, when I feel so devoid of energy or motivation. It’s exhausting, but I am determined to not let it make me think I’m meant to stop.

      Well, I wouldn’t say that. Comparing struggles is unhelpful – and I argue, unbiblical. After all, none of us are any better or any worse than anyone else. I know I often compare myself to other people and use it as an opportunity to ignore grief, to act like I’m somehow shameful or less than, et cetera, but I’m trying to stop myself from doing that!

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