Let me start by saying I never intended to get intense about NaNoWriMo. As you remember from my anniversary post, my plan was to take it on and see if I could come out triumphant, no pressure…
But then I got fixated on winning, applied the weight of the Statue of Liberty on my shoulders to do so, and spent every minute I could on it. I think I fooled myself when I entered with the "no pressure" tag removed, because who am I kidding, I can't enter something and not see it through to the end. It is a part of my nature that I'll describe as valiant—or competitive, to just be frank.
My journey began with a couple hours a day the first week, brainstorming an idea I've been kicking around. But I couldn't write organically anymore, at least not with this book for some reason. It had to be clean and precise from the start, which meant I was extremely particular about every little detail, every piece of dialogue, and every turn the story took. Hard to write 50,000 words in 22 days when you're trying to make the first draft look like a final one. I knew that editing would still need to take place, but I could not stop trying to make it perfect out of the starting gate. I admit I'm a forever perfectionist, but not usually with first drafts.
So 2 hours turned into 4-5 hours one day, then the next day that doubled. But I wasn't blasting through the pages, typing until smoke appeared from under my fingertips. No, I was sitting, staring, fixating on one scene or another, trying to write in perfect order so I wouldn't have to fill in the cracks later. After five days, I finally stopped the cycle and wrote out of order, the way I should have. I had so many things my characters were telling me to write that when I let go of the control, the incessant and ludicrous need for perfection, they overwhelmed me. I prevailed, though, and got it all down, the way they'd been asking me to from the beginning.
I don't know why I ignore my characters sometimes. It's their stories, so they're the best at telling them. They are the catalysts of my creativity, without them I wouldn't have their wonderful stories to write. When they start sharing, I'm there to listen and type away, contest or no contest, plain and simple. My thoughts and input should not be applied until after, hence the "write now, edit later" method my characters usually hold me to, my organic writing style.
Anyway, fast forward a bit to deadline day, a mere 3,700 words away from my goal.
Now, with an egg timer ticking in my ear, I was racing to beat the clock... so Murphy's Law, of course, took over. My husband was late coming home from work, we got stuck in traffic driving back from the train…pretty much everything that could have went wrong, did.
When I tell you that when I arrived home with 5 hours and 31 minutes to deadline was like a scene from a movie, I'm not kidding. Bob (my husband for those who don't know him by name) pulled into the driveway, the car wasn't even in park yet and I swung the car door open and fled to the house. As I'm scrambling with my keys to unlock it, he called out a flurry of good luck sentiments from the car (he took the baby out so I'd have no distractions). With a fleeting glance, I nodded and charged into my house, up the stairs and dove to my laptop which is on the other side my bed. So yeah, I had to dive over my bed, which was much more Ferris-Bueller-like than I had intended.
I’m SO lucky I didn’t hurt myself, ha-ha.
I was jonesing for my laptop to load like an addict on red bull as I was checking the clock every other second. I was also panic-stricken because I'd been told the website to validate word counts tends to get really glitchy the closer to deadline you get (I try never to cut it that close to deadlines—this was new territory for me). As soon as the document opened, I just typed. And typed. And typed. Calm came over me, I focused on the goal and 3 hours later, I was declared a 2011 NaNoWriMo winner with 2 hours and 17 minutes to spare. I came in 2,802 words over goal, and I couldn't be prouder of that and my final hours’ performance.
Because I'm a "winner", I'm going to make an acceptance speech.
Thanks to Bob and my son, Jack, for their patience, love and support. Without them, this wouldn't have been possible and I may have quit out of pure exhaustion if they hadn’t pushed me and motivated me.
Thanks to The Script for their phenomenal albums for which I listened to on repeat for almost the entire duration of this contest. Their music was the main muse. I also have to thank The Fray for the last 48 hours because their song "Heartbeat" was an additional muse I found I needed to boost my writing in the home stretch.
Thanks to my parents for being there, offering support and checking in on me, offering help if I needed it—even if it didn't work out that last day. Just knowing you wanted to be there is enough.
Thanks to all of my friends and followers for not bailing when I went off grid and for your continuous encouragement and support.
And last but certainly not least, thanks to my characters, Kat especially. Hers is a story I can't wait to share, and one scene in particular has become my favorite ever written by me.
I recommend NaNoWriMo for any writer who wants to push themselves and discover the true potential that lies within them. It was not only a fantastic challenge that pushed me, but it was so much fun that when I finished celebrating my victory, I was actually bummed it was over. In fact, I still sort of am. The NaNoWriMo community is another I fell in love with (writers are awesome sauce), and even though this year I was a spectator in the forums and such, next year—should I be able to compete again—I hope to be much more involved on the other side of it all.
I’ve got a critique session planned for submissions starting later this weekend, so be on the lookout for the official post here and announcements on Facebook and Twitter. And please, spread the word! The more who know, the more who can critique, which helps out everyone.
Sorry for the long-winded post, but I just had to share. Fingers crossed I’ll have more good news to post before the holidays…because that would be an epic way to leave 2011 and start 2012.