This post is the last part of my Reflections on Nanowrimo series.
Each November writers around the globe take on the challenge to write 50 thousand words in 30 days. It was a pretty big step for me and I would like to share some of that with you.
I am a week late posting this, but that is because I didn’t finish writing it until last night. Don’t worry, its not a saga. I just needed a moment to collect my thoughts.
So, where did I leave off? Oh yes, with 4 days left in the month of November. Was I going to be able to finish the novel?
No, I didn’t finish it in those 4 days. I ended the month having contributed 61, 885 words to what would become the total word count of my novel.
I watched as Twitter exploded with folks excitedly telling the world that they were able to finish their novels. I made plans to celebrate with Professor K, as he was among the folks who were able to achieve this huge accomplishment by Day 30.
I was incredibly happy for him, for all of them, but if I am being honest, and I do try to be honest, a part of me was a bit jealous. I felt a bit left behind. Rock wall comparisons came frequently to mind. And even though they did, and I was trying to stay motivated, I was tired.
I had kept up a pace of approximately 2000 words per day for a month, with some days coming in considerably less than that, particularly after the 50K word mark. But now the month was over. Now what?
Nanowrimo has a program plotted out for you called the Now What months. It is a time for you to concentrate on editing and starting down the road to publication. They offer resources and support with all of that in mind during the months of January and February. They want you to stay committed and focused. They want you to succeed. And if you are ready for their version of Now What, awesome.
But what if you aren’t? Then What?
It was December 1st. What was the protocol? Did I continue to write? At what pace? Should I re-introduce myself to my friends and family? Perhaps remind that guy who shares my address who that chick in the den is?
I must admit, I had a hard time ratcheting down my intensity working on the project, but when I did, boy did I ever!
Without the statistics machine to report my new word count every night and with only my Rock Wall plagued mind to deal with, my motivation dropped off drastically. And even with encouragement from my very supportive friends and family and the occasional butt kicking (read: pep talk) from our beloved Professor, I could not get my act together.
I tried to set goals. There is a person who had recently retired from my office, whose opinion means a great deal to me and he was going to be attending our annual holiday event on the 12th. I had it in mind that I would have the novel finished by the 12th so that I could give it to him to read when he arrived.
Well, that day came and went without a) having completed the work and b) setting eyes on him at all. He got a strongly worded email from me that was heavily dosed with Christmas cheer as a consequence. Not much of a punishment, I know, but that is hardly the point.
The next goal I set for myself was Christmas Day. Nice gift if I could swing it. How I thought I could pull off my last minute Christmas shopping act and still write was a pipe dream. Needless to say, it did not work out. And the same can be said for New Year’s.
Bitterly cold and feeling under the weather, I was unable to attend a get together a friend of mine was throwing. I decided that I would spend the night writing. I had the thought that whatever you happen to be doing at midnight of the New Year would be the thing (person) you would be doing (be with) for that year. I wanted that thing to be writing. (Yes, yes and my husband) It was new remember. I was romanticizing every thing about it.
So there I was, in the den, writing away – partly distracted by social media and texting with friends, but was able to buckle down and concentrate….until midnight…oh-one. Promptly at 12:01am January 1st 2018 I shut down my laptop and went to bed. Party Animal I am not.
The next couple of weeks were difficult. I had sketched the remaining plot points that were to be hit before the climax of the tale. It was irksome to know how it ended but not to be be able to write it because the piece that happens before wasn’t logically coming together in my mind.
One night, on the train portion of my commute home my friend said, “How’s it going? You seemed to be in the zone tonight.”
My response: “Yes. I was. But I’m so frustrated. The climax is so close. It’s right there. But I just can’t reach it.”
Realizing what I just said and more so, how it sounded, my cheek grew hot and we burst out laughing. He was kind enough not comment further.
And so it went for another couple of weeks, until January 24th at 3:23am.
I couldn’t fricken believe it! The End. Never was there a more satisfying phrase in all the world (in this context obviously).
I ran down to the basement to tell Random, who was still up for reasons unknown – but YAY! We jumped up and down in celebration for a moment or two, pure jubilation coursing through my body. I’m sure he felt it too.
Holy Macaroni! I wrote a book.
Like. A Book.
I went back to the den to save my file six different ways and as the high cooled, exhaustion took over. My alarm was going to sound in an hour and 20 minutes. I was pooped.
The next day (later that same day, technically) I woke up and had mimosas to celebrate. And as I sipped my bubbly orange juice with a splash or grenadine, I thought about all of the people in my life who made this possible. I am thankful to everyone from the amazing team at Nanowrimo to Professor K and his encouragement, my friends words of wisdom and the support of my family. I am especially grateful to my dear husband Random and my siblings and my parents, without whose support I would not have been able to do this thing.
I let my novel sit on the hard drive for 2 months while I studiously worked away on other projects, but it’s time. Time to move on to the next stage. I just printed the draft and it’s waiting for me in the den.
Next step. Editing.
If you feel that spark inside nudging you to share your story with the world, check out Nanowrimo.org. It is well worth the click.
Thank you for letting me share this journey with you.