Friday, November 28, 2014

Thoughts About Losing NaNoWriMo for the First Time

I am, most likely, not going to "win" Nano this year, that is, I am not going to hit 50k words.  I have come close to goal several times this month only to fall behind and fall behind and fall behind again as something called life happened.

Don't get me wrong, life has happened before, but I still managed to make my goal.

Last year I almost didn't make it.  My first semester of grad school and working, there were a bunch of other things happening but I pulled it out (mostly by quoting a lot of song lyrics).  This year I was catching up and feeling like I could make it but too many things going on between my mom's most recent hospital stay this week, final semester of grad school, work, prep for my "take over" week and the fact my story ended.... just like that.

But there's where I didn't fail at Nano - I have a solid story this year.  One I can commit to revising and editing and working with others to produce something worth shopping with a bit of work.  Not the bare bones of a story or a story that, with a large pair of scissors and a ton of work might have something to it.  I have a very real, solid bit of writing that has all the elements I tell my students they need when they write:

A solid beginning: The hook needs some work, but it's a solid beginning.

Tell the story bit by bit: The story unfolds the way it should.  It doesn't hit the "and something here" point or the "I did more telling than showing because I didn't know what else to do..." point.  It unfolds the way it should.

I used juicy describing words/I showed, not told the story: I reread a random passage and saw that it was the balance between telling the story and overtelling/undertelling the story.  I'm good with that.

An ending that wraps it all up: The ending is a good ending.  OK, it's a bit of a Star Wars style ending of everyone standing there smiling into the camera, but it's the type of ending that matches the story and is good.

It's only about 20k words.  I have just over 12k of side stories that are related to but separate from my main story.  It means I need to write 18k words in 4 days.  I could do it.  I could find a way to incorporate a beleaguered elementary school teacher writing lesson plans and include the lesson plans I've been writing all month for work and my classes - which puts me WAY over the 50k mark.  Who knows, I may do that still because I just hate the idea of not making the 50k when I know I've been writing like there's no tomorrow.  But I know that I will not have won in the spirit of everything.

So I guess I'm saying, yes I can hit 50k but it won't be a novel and I'm only beginning to process it all.  I'll be OK with all this in a bit.  I know I have some incredible scenes (c'mon, a crow with an eating disorder as the side kick to a very bad ass squirrel - how can it not have incredible scenes?).

But today I sit here knowing that even if I hit the word count, I am not a winner this year and I can live with that.

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