I finally crossed the finish line yesterday with just under 71, 000 words. It’s been quite a 30 days. Some of the obstacles that nearly tripped me up were spilling water into my laptop and losing all my research, plot notes and unfinished chapters (although I love my iPad, I don’t love it for such extended periods of writing!), having major toothache leading to a double molar extraction, and a week of trying to combine an intimidating research placement in a leading publisher’s office with bashing out my own draft. But I made it! I get to wear the Winner T Shirt and I have bragging rights across the internet!
But was it worth it? Have I have written anything worthwhile?
Yes, it was absolutely worth it – mainly for some of the reasons I gave in my previous post about why I was doing it. The commitment to keep writing, regardless of the self-doubts and plot problems, really helped me to get over the horrible gap between the novel-in-my-head and the messy, mistake-ridden attempts to create in on paper. The cheerleading from friends and from all the Wrimos out there meant that I had to keep going, and the folk at NaNoWriMo create a fantastic community spirit.
On the other hand, what I have written is very sketchy still (and I only managed to take one plot strand through to completion with two others still languishing behind). I found I was constructing the world of the novel and getting to understand my own plot more than I was writing anything like a finished draft. I have blocked most of it out, in very broad brush strokes, but there is all the detail to complete. This is all I expected to achieve – and I am delighted to have a significant outline to work on from now on. But it is far from a ‘novel’ yet.
The most important lessons have been about getting back into the rhythm of daily writing, and exerting myself to create (and live) actual scenes, not just synopses and backstory. I intend to keep going now, perhaps with not quite the same intensity, but certainly with a daily writing commitment (I suspect this novel is a two year project). The story feels like it is out in the world now, and the characters with it. My commitment to it is much deeper. After 70, 000 words, I have come too far not to go on to completion.
I sometimes found that I was beginning to think in 2000 word chunks (after getting into that daily habit) which is not alway appropriate to the fiction I am trying to create, and I also found it hard to hang onto some of the sense of period in the language the characters use. Nevertheless, I discovered all sorts of plot surprises and character developments due to the sheer momentum of NaNoWriMo.
So, in the end, I have gained much valuable learning, a significant chunk of text to work with, a sense of plot and character trajectory, a daily writing habit and a bunch of new Wrimo friends. Was it worth it? Yes, yes, yes.