As you already know, especially if you’ve been reading this blog or if you follow me on Twitter, that this was my first year participating in NaNoWriMo. I signed up back at the beginning of October and I won’t lie—the idea of writing 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days was downright frightening, especially since I’m also carrying a full graduate course load. I had been putting NaNoWriMo off for years, content to watch everyone else’s successes or “failures” (that’s in quotes for a reason, which I will get to a bit later on). This year was different. It only tok a few days at the end of September for me to decide that I wasn’t going to just sit back and watch everyone else this year. I was going to do it, even if I didn’t get to the 50,000-word mark, even if it killed me.
I had a busy October, and when November 1st arrived, I had three items ready for my story: the title and names for two of my characters. Throughout October, I kept convincing myself that Id sit down and come up with some sort of outline. It never happened. I knew how I wanted to start the story and had a vague idea of how I wanted to end it, but that was all. On November 1st, I dug in, writing just over the suggested 1,667-word daily limit. I didn’t even hit that on the second day and that was when I began to wonder if I’d even make it to 15,000 words, let alone 50,000.
After those first two days, though, the story exploded. The characters came to life and did what they wanted to, driving the story in directions I didn’t think it would go. I managed to write at least 2,500 words almost every day after that. I had a few yellow days and a few red ones (excluding the string of them after I quit writing on 20th-21st). Some days it was hard to keep writing, especially with schoolwork constantly calling. There were days when I just didn’t want to write. At all. But I did it anyway. Discipline, folks.
In the afternoon of November 20th, I crossed the 50,000-word mark. The next day, I wrote nearly a thousand more words. After that, I knew I’d have to stop and work on school things again, so that’s what I did. I finished my first NaNoWriMo with 50,801 words. The story isn’t finished yet, but I feel that it’s just under three-quarters of the way done. On November 26th, I uploaded and verified my word count for the win.
If any of you have read any of my work, you should know that I don’t typically write “happy” stories. Nearly all of them have sad endings and/or someone dies, etc. This story was no different. Here’s the banner I came up with for the NaNoWriMo forums:
The basic premise of the story goes something like this: Symon, my main character, learns along with the rest of the family, that his sister, Sia, is gay. Their parents don’t agree with this and kick her out of the house. Symon is accepting of his sister and her lifestyle and tries to talk to his father, with no luck. After some time of talking with Sia and after help from Symon’s best friend Sam (whom is also gay), Symon’s mother comes around and admits that she really is okay with her daughter’s lifestyle. Convincing her husband is another story. After Sia agrees to come back to the house for a visit, the father again kicks her out. Symon and his mother move out and the parents get a divorce. Symon grapples with the changes and just as he gets straightened out, Sia commits suicide at school in California.
I can’t explain much more than that, because that’s as far as I’ve written to this point. I like how it’s come along thus far, though, I have no doubt it’ll need a lot of edits and changes.
I Won…What Now?
My story has been uploaded and verified. I’ve been declared a “winner” and have collected my “winner goodies.” What now? Well, I’ve sent my story to one person (my boyfriend). It’ll be put away for now, as I’ve got finals to work on. After those finals, I have to shift back to resume work on “Forward Together,” since it’s going to be my master’s thesis next fall. So much needs to be done with it! I will finish the NaNoWriMo novel, though, I can’t say when. I’ll work on it here and there. I can’t just drop it completely, especially since the story was so cooperative for the twenty days it took me to get as far as I did with it.
NaNoWriMo is done. I feel good about what I’ve done. Many people won’t get to 50k and that’s fine. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure. If you’re participating, you’re already a writer and you don’t need NaNoWriMo to confirm that. You write about what you want, when you want, and on your own terms. NaNoWriMo is not mandatory. It’s a fun challenge and nothing more, so if you weren’t declared a “winner,” don’t beat yourself up over it.
What’s on the docket now? First and foremost, my finals that are due next week. After that? Well, I believe I’ll work on “Forward Together” some more (that chapter seven needs some work). I’ll have six weeks off before the spring semester starts, so I’m hoping to be able to get a good amount of writing done. And as always, I’ll be reading, too. The possibilities are endless, really.
[Tell me, how is writing coming along for all of you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? How is that coming along?]