Last time I made an entry on this blog, I was embarking into the world of frantic novel writing known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Over the course of November, I and more than 300,000 others, embarked on a grand writing adventure. Our goal was to write 50,000 words over the 30 days of November. For anyone counting, that’s 1,667 words per day to make the deadline and count yourself a “winner.”
It was a rough road. I had days where I wrote nothing, and more days where I would get home late from work, make and eat dinner, and somehow pound out a few hundred words. But never enough. Never really keeping up with that target of 1,667 words. Even so, my husband was starting to show the signs of becoming a NaNo widow. I’ve already put him through the hell of being a vet school widow, and here I was putting him through a month of intense writing sessions where I paid little attention to anyone around me. Very similar to vet school, really. Lots of tea. Lots of teeth gnashing. Lots of procrastinating. Lots of swearing. Less tears, though.
Over the course of the month my story evolved from the D&D Noir mystery I had started with and became much more fantasy driven. Demons are involved. Personal and otherwise. My characters surprised me with their words and actions. Many times during November I would send a text to my mom that said something along the lines of “Apparently my character can do such and such!” or “I just had a dwarf wander into my story. Who knew?” I dragged my mom with me on this journey, by the way. I messaged her right before starting to tell her what I would be up to this month and she let it slip that she had tried doing NaNo many years ago and never finished. So I bullied her into starting with me because I’m a good daughter. Plus my mom is pretty creative and I would love to read her books someday. It only became weird when we discovered we were both thinking about cozy mysteries set in our town with the same site for the murder to take place. I don’t know what that says about the way our minds work, but we both decided to take a different direction. Perhaps that lonely spot above the ferry will be left unbloodstained. For now.
It came to pass that on the very last day of NaNo, a Saturday, I found myself teetering on the precipice of failure. I had 8,136 words left to write in order to win. More than I had managed to write in a single weekend, let alone a single day leading up to this. But it was not such an insurmountable amount that I could tell myself it was okay to give myself a pass and be proud of the 42,000-odd words I had already done. In short, it was doable if I put my nose to the grindstone and just powered through it. So that’s what I did. I took a small break in the middle of the day so we could get a Christmas tree and eat lunch and the rest of the time I was writing. Even when the dull ache of an oncoming cold started nagging at me, and when it became more than a dull ache as drainage made my throat feel like I was swallowing barbed wire…I wrote. And at around 8:30 at night I wearily copied my text into the validator (I was doing this every few minutes at the point because the program I was using doesn’t do work counting on tablets and I wanted to see those words tick away) I was stunned to see a large banner declaring “WINNER” sprawl across the page. I stared at it for a minute, looked up to see my word count sitting at an official 50,013 words, and started half laughing half crying. Andrew may have feared briefly for my sanity as I sat there, hands covering my mouth, staring and laughing in disbelief.
I had done it! Against all odds of my own laziness, I had finished more than 50k words in 30 days! So I did what any rational person would do: I went to the bathroom and then we went out for an exhausted sore throat late night dinner to celebrate.
Am I done? Oh no. My story has been sitting neglected in the aftermath of November, but it isn’t finished. I need to pick up my characters and finish their story. I owe it to them and to me. And then I will start editing. Go back and find those sections where I was slogging rather than flying and make them better. Probably take out the random kitten that showed up in chapter four. And MAYBE…maybe. Someday. I will get my story published. It seems impossible, but then again, so did 50,000 words in 30 days.