Wow, December 1st. I’ve been outside. The sun is shining. Grass is growing–okay that’s a little weird. My children look bigger, my house looks dustier.
Yes, I’ve just crawled out from my month of writing dangerously– NANOWRIMO. I did it! I did it! (Why do I hear Dora the Explorer singing that?)
The official final count: 50076 words. Some of them I might actually keep once I start the editing process. For those of you who haven’t been inundated by nanowrimo information, (which, by the way, stands for National Novel Writing Month although they should change it because it is now international, but innowrimo just doesn’t have the same ring to it), here’s the low down.
Nanowrimo began ten years ago with 21 people getting together to try to write novels in 30 days. Today, 167,201 crazies from all over the world got together (virtually and in real life) to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. This year 98,044 of us wrote at least one word and 32,149 people besides me, can now call themselves “author.”
Really, don’t you just find that amazing? For one month, almost 100,000 people were engaged in a common goal. I was writing along side soldiers in Afghanistan, someone who only writes his novel out by hand, students who are at sea, and people serving in the Peace Corp. We had one common goal for the month. Even though I didn’t know most of these writers, I cheered for them when they made milestones, urged them on at roadblocks and cried at their failures. We don’t win any money, most of us (like 99%) will never have our stuff read. Of the 1% who do have their novel read, it will likely be by someone who loves us very much and has nothing but nice things to say about it–FYI–they are wrong, they just love you. It’s okay, I expect my loved ones to do the exact same thing. It’s their job.
Collectively, we’ve written 2,147,483,647 words.
Our only reward is bragging rights. I mean, how many people can say they’ve written a novel?
Is it easy? No. Is it fun? Not always. So why do I do it?
Because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t have a new novel sitting on my laptop (and backed up about 40 different places). This is actually my third one. And I am just as impressed with myself for this one as I was for my first one.
I failed last year–just couldn’t do it with a new baby in the house. And in case you think that’s an adequate excuse, there was one woman last year who GAVE BIRTH during the last week of NaNo and STILL finished her novel. So no, simply having a 9 month old in the house isn’t really an excuse.
I have a friend of mine who is a runner. She runs in marathons. Personally, I have no idea why she does this. She runs in the winter. She runs in rain. She runs everyday. She has shin splints and sore muscles and blisters on her feet. But she still does it–even when she doesn’t want to. Because in the end, there is nothing better than proving that you can accomplish some that a lot of people can’t do AND (more importantly) doing something that YOU didn’t think that you could do.
So now, sleep deprived and family deprived, I look around at what I learned this year at Nano:
- First and foremost–my husband is awesome. He did so much to help me make my goals–even when I might have gotten just a tiny bit cranky and a little bit whiny. He took the kids on weekends so I could write. He picked up the slack on the housework (Oh, the humanity! The housework!) so I could write–if it hadn’t been for him, the kids would be wearing shorts, ballet slippers, a “frankie says relax” t-shirt and a fake fur coat to school–and that’s just what The Boy would have to wear. The Girl would probably actually think that’s a good look. You know, she could pull it off.
- My children were also very fabulous during this past month. I had some wonderful conversations with The Girl because she ONLY wanted to talk to me if I said, “If no one needs anything, I’m going to write for a little while.” That got the information pouring from her. But I was overjoyed when calling her to the dinner table, that she said, “Hold on, Mom, I’m finishing the sentence on my story.”
- And The Boy, cheering me on and singing me his own song about his mom finishing Nano made my heart sing. I do, however, have to apologize to my children–they really did get a lot more Halloween candy than what was in the bowl–chocolate was my fuel of choice. And in a pinch, Skittles (gag) will work too.
- I’ve also come to realize that Facebook will likely be the downfall of mankind and I think that God must have personally intervened with Algerian Solitaire to have me win so much. Whenever I was stalled, I would say–“just one winning hand and then I’ll go back to writing” and poof– I would win. On the flip side, Facebook was a great motivator–knowing that friends from all parts of my life were rooting me on and questioning my Solitaire scores (why aren’t you writing) really pushed me to finish the book.
Writing a book is a lot like being privy to another world. I created my characters and their world, but like real humans, they apparently have free will. They did things that I wasn’t planning–I know, H, that sounds very weird to you–and I had to write their way out of the problem. How I longed to be writing a fairy tale when I could just say, “and then the fairy godmother appeared and fixed everything.”
But then it wouldn’t be a very interesting story if that happened. Kinda like what God let’s us do with life. It wouldn’t be very interesting if He rescued us with a simple “poof.” Nope, like my characters, we have to work our way out of our messes. And, like my characters, in the end, we are much different than we were when we started our journey.
So, if you haven’t heard from me all month, I’m back. Ready to keep writing. And maybe a few of my words will actually be put together in such a way that they mean something.
And if you’ve ever had the urge–even a little one–to be able to say at a dinner party, “well, when I was writing my novel….” then consider joining me, and 167,200 of my closest friends next November when we begin the task all over again. By the way, Nanowrimo is a non-profit company that provides educational material to children–encouraging them to take up writing and reading. I HAVE to give a shout out to the 5560 kids–yes KIDS who finished their novels. Perhaps a nice little donation might be in order?