At two a.m. this morning, I hit the 50,000 word count for the National Novel Writing Month.  It was a quiet moment, marked by the cacophony of snores from my two dogs  and from my husband who was out cold with a laptop propped on his chest.  Such is the fate of the writer. We are lone souls drifting along the invisible Ley lines that map our inner worlds.

What did I do to celebrate?

I clicked off the computer, put my husband’s laptop away, scratched my dogs’ bellies  and went to bed.

Such is the fate of the writer. We are the last shift down and so we get to put the dishes away, make sure all the lights are out, and lock up.

Every year over a million of us migrate from the four corners of the globe to The National Novel Writing Site where Chris Baty and his staff put out a feast of forums to tickle the appetite of any writer regardless of  age, writing experience, or genre preference.  We choose our writing groups. We hook up with old friends and new friends.  We tweak our profiles, title our novels, and write a brief synopsis on what our novel is about. We  choose our rhino and mount up.

And then we all wait for Chris Baty to ring the bell.

Make no mistake, the Nano Rhino is a huge beast.  50,000 words in thirty days. When a writer bursts out of that chute it’s anybody’s guess whether she’s going to last twenty-four hours, let alone thirty days.  Outlines, character lists, plot twists, crisis points?  I’ve seen a lot of litter in the Nano ring. Occasionally, I’ve come across a skeleton with a pad it its lap and a pen still grasped in its boney fingers.   Seems to me that there is no guarantee that any single technique will get you to the finish line.

It’s rhino country.  The terrain is unpredictable; the beast temperamental.

This is my fourth Rhino. The first two rides ended rather badly. In a nutshell, I crossed the finish line with my heel caught in the stirrup, my ego skinned from my ass  and a whole lot of dirt up my nose and in other places.  The third rhino marked a change in my performance.  I made the word count early, clocked out, and made ten home-made pies for Thanksgiving Dinner.  That was fantastic.

This year, I rode the rhino across the finish line in eighteen days. I did it without self-flagellation, without giving up my favorite television series, and without locking everyone in the basement. I did it quietly with a nod to anyone who walked in to stare at me and ask me if I’d glued my butt to the chair. I did it with great pleasure and with an edge of madness that stemmed from the discovery of how to ride my rhino.  I pass it on to you in the hope that you will find something worthwhile in my journey across the wild country that is National Novel Writing Month.

The secret to my success comes down to one thing:

Be kind to your rhino.

Touch it. Learn  the vast array of valleys and mountains carved into its skin. Stick your fingers in its ears and dig out the dust of where it’s been.  Peer into the universe birthed in its gaze and smell the dangerous lust that drives it.  Breath all of it in. Absorb that awesome potential and claim it for your own.

When you climb onto its back, you’ll find the view is breathtaking and the possibilities, endless.


8 Responses to “RIDING THE NANO RHINO”
  1. Grumps/ aka Rare/Rare 'Riting/Rare 'Riting NaNo Rhino. says:

    Hi, Ravenne.

    Congrats on your fourth NaNo success.
    I am considering suing you for appropriating my name–but as you are such a good friend , I’ll wait until you’re really rich and famous. Heh-heh.
    I think you have captured the essence of why my alter ego is Rhino.

    18 days is phenomenal–I managed 21 days a couple of years ago. I’d have loved to take part this year, but Life’s exigencies took precedence.

    Anyway, well done.
    Wishes and vibes,
    Grumps. (the Real NaNo Rhino). 😉

    • ravenlaw says:

      I didn’t know rhinos have lawyers. 🙂 I’ll have to remember to move often and not use credit cards. The terrific think about nano is that it’s every year. Benning’s got a may Private Writing Month. Same idea. Lots of familiar writers. I tried to do it last May, but I got bogged down too.
      21 days is fantastic!

      Thanks for dropping by,


  2. Joey says:

    Well said, dear Raven. Or…should I say Laurel? Okay, well done, both of you! I commend you for your spirit and determination and the ability to “Get ‘er done!” And in eighteen days, not thirty? Fantastic!

    Me? I’m still wrestling my Rhino. But I’ll remember to be kind, thanks to you!

    Joy to ya!


    • ravenlaw says:

      I’ll be over at our Nano group cheering you on! Just remember to give the rhino free rein. He’ll take you where you should be. Thanks for stopping by.

      Good luck!


  3. Carol says:


    Congratulationsd on getting the 50,000 words written so quickly. Now get that novel done.

    I enjoyed the essay on your experience. Working with teen writers myself, I think it is amazing what you did with your young writers.


  4. ravenlaw says:

    Hi Carol,

    I’m so glad to hear from you. I meant to tell you I like the pics you posted on Facebook. Working with the teens is a give and take situation. Nothing like being around young people to keep a good perspective on life.

    Be well! I’m back on the novel soon.


    PS : Please say hello to the Sweethearts gang!

  5. benning says:

    You did good! 😀

    I’ve still got a ways to go, but I ain’t givin’ up! Whoo-Hoo!

    • ravenlaw says:

      There are some who lead by standing in the front of the line and others who lead while standing at the back. You lead from wherever you happen to be standing, Benning.

      Thanks for opening up the Nano group for us again for this year.


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