For the past four years, I’ve signed up for National Novel Writing Month – which is shortened to NaNoWriMo. It’s basically a writing challenge – starting from scratch, write 50,000 words during the month of November. If you manage that, you validate your words via their handy little gizmo, and get to claim the honor of “WINNER!”.
The first time I signed up, four years ago, I was all set to get this done. I had 10,000 words typed up in the first four days. I was on my path to winning when, on November 4th, Josh called and said “So, are you serious about moving to Ireland? Because I just got the job offer.”
Needless to say, writing came to a screeching halt.
The next year, I signed up, but got absolutely no where with it. We had visitors and my time was spent hanging out with them (time well spent, don’t doubt that).
Last year, I tried again. Got signed up late, puttered about, didn’t even break 3,000 words.
This year, I signed up because, well, it wasn’t like I was going to move again. Nor did I have any visitors planned. I scheduled my life for writing, conned other friends into joining, came up with a last minute idea for characters, and dove in – no plot, no story line, no idea except some characters.
Of course, Life didn’t care about my plans, and continued along its usual possibly drunken, definitely convoluted path. In keeping with NaNoWriMo tradition, I got some most excellent news which required my attention. I also got to play single parent while Josh was gone for a week. And as I’ve come to realize, November is a really freaking depressing month, so there was a bit of wallowing happening on my part. And in an attempt to build a social life, there were things to go to. Which I’m glad I went to. But you know, life, distractions, not writing.
I started off the last week of NaNo at only 23,000 words. Pretty far behind. And Thanksgiving was thrown in there. But I thought “Maybe I can do this.” At Day 26 (out of 30), I was at 23,728 words. That left more than half of the challenge to do in three days.
Challenge was accepted.
Granted, I had to write 12,000 words the next two days, and 15,000 words the final day. I clocked in at 50,026 words at 11 pm on Day 30.
In return, I got this.
I also ended up with a very rough draft of something that resembles a novel – with beginning, middle, and end. It is choppy and not very good in many spots where I just put words down with the hopes of going back to fix later, when my brain worked better. Even now, my brain is a bit “Ahhh! Words!!”
But I learned a few things –
1. I can actually come up with an ending (seriously, this has been an issue for me in the path)
2. I still can’t outline, but I can jot down bits and maybe make them work.
3. I can type really fast when need be.
4. One should not stare at a computer screen for 14 hours.
5. I don’t know, my brain still hurts from the past two days.
Most of all, I managed to conquer my own personal Everest, pushing through when it didn’t make sense, or when I still didn’t have a plot, or any answers to the questions I created. I’m impressed with how I managed to weave it together, even if it’s woven poorly.
Now I just get to go back to the beginning and work through it all again.
But maybe not today.