Riding NaNoWriMo Out

Back Again
My route as generated by Google Maps, with major stops, arrival times, and layovers

I posted about the bus ride to Tallahassee, now here’s the bus ride back to Iowa City—as well as the final day of NaNoWriMo. This bus ride was only 28 hours, starting at 1:00 pm est on Saturday, and ending at 4:00 pm cst on Sunday. I did a lot more writing this time around, so this post is more focused on NaNoWriMo, and there are no pictures. It was mostly the same cities anyway, nothing new to see.


I started out at around thirty-three thousand words written—seventeen thousand to go.

1:19 pm est

We’re heading out of Tallahassee now. This bus isn’t too crowded, but there is someone next to me. Hopefully they’ll get off in Montgomery. And hopefully more people won’t get on. These are the hopes.

I’m going to write a bunch of Stuffed now.

 2:24 pm cst

We just stopped in Dothan, and I just wrote a shitload of Stuffed. I wasn’t sure whether or not I would, or if I even wanted to. Completing NaNoWriMo isn’t so much something I need to do to prove that I can, because I already know I can. The question really is, do I want to get this book done faster? So I decided that I don’t want to take months and months to finish books (even the shortest novel I’ve ever written took three months to write the first draft of—longer, including false starts and outlining.) I’m not going to do that when I’m a professional writer, so I’m not going to do it now. If I want to finish book one of Stuffed within two months (I do), finishing NaNoWriMo is a great way to reach that goal.

But really, I wrote so much because it was a lot of fun. The above thinking is only what got me to start writing.

4:52 pm

After the stop in Troy, enough people cleared out that I could have a pair of seats to myself. I listened to a chapter of Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens,  and now I’m going to write some more Stuffed.

5:09 pm

Epiphany triggered by a scene in Stuffed: I should learn shorthand!

6:42 pm

Well, we changed bus drivers in Montgomery (actually before that 5:09 update, but whatever.) This one threatened to pull over if people kept talking while she was talking, and told us, “Jesus Christ is onboard so we gonna arrive safe and sound.” Also, a bunch more people got on, but somehow I have two seats to myself. Maybe I can thank JC for that, too.

I wrote another chapter (about two thousand words long) of Stuffed, and listened to another chapter of Our Mutual Friend. Alternating between the two is working out well. I ate the sandwich I packed, and I’m probably going to demolish the bag of trail mix in my backpack when I get really hungry about an hour from now. We’ve just rolled into Birmingham, with a twelve-hour difference in the time of day from when I was last here.

I have an hour layover here, and I’m going to write some more.

7:03 pm

A Mr. Delgado just approached me—a man with a cowboy hat, leather vest, and handlebar mustache whose brackets stretched down to his chin. He told me, with the uncertain cadence of a person speaking English as a second language, that he had lost his luggage, and wondered if I could help him lodge a complaint (singling me about because of my laptop, I assume.) As we waited for the Greyhound website to load, he asked where I was going, and I told him. He said he was going all the way to Las Vegas. When the site loaded I found that it had no form for lost luggage, and that it merely said that he could receive compensation if he had his baggage ticket. He showed me that he had this, which is how I saw his name.

I doubt (and hope not, for the poor guy) his luggage was actually lost, I think he’s just a little paranoid and confused. He was also worried that they had already called us for re-boarding just a few minutes ago. After saying that he got up and left, thanking me for my trouble and saying, “We’ll see what happens in Vegas.”

9:53 pm

It’s real dark—night time, and raining. I’m on the bus between Nashville and Birmingham, which is a three-hour non-stop ride. The windows are fogging up as the passengers doze off and snore out of their gaping mouths. I’ve written another couple chapters of Stuffed, another couple thousand words. In the chapter I just wrote, “The Job Search,” I got to write this fun little bit:

“Well, I don’t figure out which job to take, I figure out which job I want.”

“What’s the difference?”

“The difference is, I don’t look at the work that other people are doing, and decide which of those jobs I’d most like to do. I figure out what service I can provide everyone, which I’d enjoy doing, and then I do that. I built the first house here. And you know, it’s the same with Allie, and with Anty, and with the Taco Bell Bros. Baby too, at least as far as him hosting the night conferences goes. So, imagine that there are no jobs—no exploring group, no guards, no housebuilding, no scientists—just a bunch of stuffed animals, and you. What do you want to do?”

Getting closer and closer in my life to that thing called “The Real World,” and figuring out how I’ll make my way in it, this was a cool chapter to write. It’s always fun when you can write in stuff that’s hyper-relevant to you. All of a book should be relevant to the writer to some extent, because it’s their book, but sometimes there are things that are super-relevant to the exact time that you’re writing them. Like in Don Quixote, when this guy’s son is a poet, and don Quixote tells the guy that he should encourage his son to do what his heart desires. I’m guessing Cervantes got a kick out of writing something so hyper-relevant to him, that also worked within the broader story.

I’m at almost forty thousand words now.

6:05 pm

I’m in Iowa City. A big jump, I know. I’ve been here for a couple hours now. I guess there’s a lot to go over.

Between Nashville and St. Louis, I tried to get some sleep, with limited success. I’d wanted to grab some coffee in St. Louis, but my layover was much shorter than expected, so I just hopped from one bus to another. I still wrote though, without my drug.

In Hannibal, Missouri I got a lemon raspberry muffin and a Starbucks Frappuccino thing. I got crumbs everywhere eating the muffin, then wrote some more. Writing, listening to Our Mutual Friend, and listening to music now and then. This is how I passed time.

In Burlington I had a massive, two-hour layover, so I took the opportunity to go get a Subway sandwich, then go to a Starbucks in a Target to get a hot mocha. It seems like from St. Louis northward, there’s hardly any coffee places in Missouri. I remember running across this problem when my mom and I were coming up, and finding refuge in this same Starbucks in a Target.

So I had a less eventful quest for coffee this time around. Mostly I was walking through suburbs, which seemed strange—having suburbs and malls hanging out right next to one another, with no downtownish developments in between.

So I got a nice mocha in a nice, red, anti-Jesus cup, then headed back to the terminal. I wrote some more on the drive to Iowa City, and I’ve written a little bit more since I arrived here.

I’m up to forty-three thousand, five hundred words—sixty-five hundred words left. It shouldn’t be a problem at all to finish it in the next few days.

Edit: in the next day. Did I really not realize there was only one day left? Christ.

30 November, 6:46 pm

It’s the last day. It’s almost seven. I have two thousand words to go. I’ve totally pushed my homework aside. I’m going to be working on that later tonight, once I’m done with NaNoWriMo. So here we go. The final stretch.

8:46 pm

Done. Now on to my Dickens paper.

In Conclusion…

While I’m glad I finished NaNoWriMo, I certainly wish I’d utilized my first bus ride more, and taken more time to write instead of listening to music and podcasts. I’ve also realized that bus rides aren’t so bad. When I told people I was taking a 30-hour bus ride, they reacted like it was a 30-hour dental operation. I don’t know why. Maybe I’m the strange one. Maybe they imagine a 30-hour plane ride, which would be worse (buses are less cramped, and the lay-overs are shorter, from my experience.)

In an earlier NaNoWriMo post, I mentioned that this was a lazy NaNoWriMo, and that’s been kind of true to the end. It was a lot of work, but it wasn’t hard—especially compared to the school work I had to do directly after it. I think that’s a good thing, that writing feels so much more natural to me than homework.

I don’t know if I’ll do it next year. There are a lot of reasons to do NaNoWriMo, but I’m not sure if I’ll have any of them in November of 2016.

I am, however, pretty sure I’ll be traveling by bus more in the future. Despite the horrified looks I get, it’s a fine way to travel, and to get a lot of work done too.

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