Camp NaNoWriMo lasted for 31 days, and I wrote something on every day. I started with an idea, not even a plot, just a scenario and a character, and from that I built a world. It eventually became a story, and I now have a draft of 50,256 words (more or less) which could very well become a real novel one day. For now, I bask in the winner’s circle.
It’s funny how important this milestone is to me now. When I first heard about NaNoWriMo many years ago, I didn’t understand how there could be so many winners. What kind of contest was this? What could all those people win? When I signed up for my first year, but cranked out less than 22k words by the end of the month, I didn’t feel like I had lost. I wasn’t in a competition with anyone else, and I didn’t go into it with any expectations. The community did such a good job of making me feel special just for giving it a try, that I never felt like I had let myself down. I had accomplished all that I wanted to, which was just to see what would happen if I tried to be creative, and to have fun doing so. Back then, winning had no real meaning for me.
Now my desktop wallpaper is a winner’s certificate. My browser’s home page is a winner’s badge. After years of trying and failing — and saying it didn’t really matter anyway — reaching that 50k finish line has taken on a new meaning. You would think that I could put the feeling into better words, now that I’m a real writer. *wink*
I hope my novel has a future. For one thing, I need to think of an actual ending! To be honest, when I was typing on that last day, and checking my word count every 15 minutes, I was not trying to end the entire story arc. I just wanted to hit my deadline. I stopped in the middle of a scene, with the tension building. I reached a climax with a great reveal, but didn’t give the characters time to react to it. The forces of good and evil were poised to confront one another, but I stopped writing. I have no idea what should happen next!
With my official status as a winner, I am entitled to a discount off Scrivener software. I hear great things about it, and the price seems worth it to me. For all four NaNoWriMo attempts, I’ve gone in without an outline, and I finally have come out with an appreciation for structure. My novel* is a rambling stream of nuggets in need of better organization.
*(wow, it sure feels strange to use that phrase. “My novel” sounds so pretentious, and premature, but “my draft” lacks a sense of pride. A draft is something I could easily put in a drawer and forget about, but a novel begs to be completed. I even bought a USB memory stick on a strap which says MY*NOVEL with the NaNoWriMo logo on it. I’ll bet I would look really pretentious wearing it as a bracelet.)
So now I need to reassess my goals for this blog. Writing something every day is still a good idea, as I need a bit of discipline in my life. I could continue with random essays, unscheduled bits of fiction, and the themes about reality I’ve used in the past. My head is still swimming with the subjects I spent the past month writing about, but all the advice I read says I should walk away from the novel and take a break before thinking about rewrites.
I don’t know what comes next, but for now: WINNER!