Well friends, I’ve done it. I’ve passed that 50K mark and taken my place among the 2012 National Novel Writing Month winners. Before undertaking this project, I had hoped to post weekly progress reports so that the blog would remain active, but obviously that didn’t happen. (I’m very glad I didn’t promise to do so.) This month has been crazy on many different levels, and when I say that writing a novel in 30 days has been the least mad part of my November, I think you’ll understand just how little time I’ve had for blogging.
But in celebration of crossing the finish line, I wanted to take a moment to check back in. To be honest, I’m not sure how I finished already because I feel like I had more slacker days than last year. However, my good days must have been fabulous enough to keep me going strong. The NaNoWriMo website automatically updates a bar graph and I worked very hard in the beginning to stay above the par line, then over time to stay two days ahead of par. Some days I wrote just so I could see the line go higher and of course the more you write, the easier it is to see the difference. Turns out that bar graph is a HUGE motivator for me, but being so far ahead didn’t drive me to keep up a breakneck pace. I often felt like I could afford to take some time off and only wrote the cursory words to nudge up the graph. After a few days of piddling, I’d binge again to reclaim my big lead. Good, bad, or completely normal, the process ultimately worked for me because I’m sitting here with 50,170 words of newly created fiction and four days of November remaining.
I’m very happy with the project, not necessarily as it stands now, but with where it’s going and the discoveries I’ve made along the way. There are some structural problems inherent in what I’m doing (but I knew that going in) and I’m missing at least a couple characters (oops), but at least I’m armed with a list of things to address in rewrites. That and a long list of research topics — how does one sculpt a human figure or shear a sheep after all? I’m also not finished with the story quite yet (I know, I know, I said that was my goal this year, but I needed to brag about the 50K), but I left off at a really exciting place, so I’m eager to return to it tomorrow. There are still four more days for me to take it closer to the end and I intend to use them. Realistically, I don’t think I’ll reach the end of the plot by December 1, but I’m comfortable with what I’ve accomplished and with where I’m going. If all goes well, I will continue the daily writing and/or researching indefinitely, eternally. It’ll be tough without that bar graph (the ones I make myself aren’t quite as effective), but at least I’ve taken 26 steps in the right direction.
And what does this mean for the irregularly scheduled posts this blog usually broadcasts? Not a lot, unfortunately. Now that I’ve lived up to NaNo’s expectations, I have to face some of the reality I’ve been putting off. I have another, far less pleasant, mad dash ahead of me, and I can’t make any promises until that is over. However, my reading list is growing ever-longer and I can’t wait to dive in.
Before I go, I want to share two articles that I came across shortly before the NaNoWriMo adventure. The first is an attack on the Novel Writing Month, claiming that we should celebrate readers not writers. The second is a well-formed rebuttal that captures my thoughts in a more eloquent fashion than I could muster.
In response to the first article and in defense of NaNo, there will always be the egotistical writer who thinks that their words are sacred, but NaNo does not endorse sending manuscripts to anyone (or self-publishing) immediately following the event. All through the month, writers are reminded that it’s only a first draft and we should also be editing… just not in November. And one of my recurring thoughts through this process was that I need to read more books to see how other writers handle the problems I’m facing. Which, by the way, is why I started this challenge/blog — an idea inspired by one of the NaNoWriMo pep talks from last year. I want to delve into what’s already on the market to inform the choices I make in my own writing. Speaking of, I need some suggestions for really good uses of third person omniscient. If you know any, send them my way!