I cannot believe I did it. I logged in 50,582 words at the NaNoWriMo word count verifier a few minutes ago. Over 50K words in less than 30 days--yes! Got my certificate, got the little badge you see here... And no, didn't get my t-shirt because the site doesn't list Netherlands Antilles as a possibility for billing addresses. Dang it.
It was a challenge, I admit, but it wasn't nearly as overwhelming as I thought it would be. Writing 50K words in one month *is* possible. Sure, I'm lucky because I get to write full-time--no kids, no job, a partner that loves the fact that I write. I had everything going for me this month. It really would have been an embarrassment not to finish. As it is, it's probably an embarrassment that I didn't win earlier, that the word count is *only* 50,582 today. But I'll take my pride where I can :)
The NaNo novel, as yet untitled, is only half-way. So--yes, I wrote 50K in one month, but I didn't finish a novel. Does that take away from the sense of achievement? Yeah, sure it does. The goal was 50K--that's what you need to win NaNo. But that's the letter of the law. The *spirit* is to finish the damn thing. Of course, a first draft of a novel, in Guiliespeak, is +100K, so perhaps it is unreasonable to demand of myself that I finish one in 30 days. I do plan to raise my target next year to at least 75K--that should bring me closer to the end.
What do I have now? I have about half of a novel's first draft. Sure--there's going to be a lot of editing in my future, eventually, but first... First, I need to finish the first draft. That wonderful feeling of writing "the end" at the last page--how I love that.
So... Even though I have my NaNo winner certificate and my little badge, and even though I earned a t-shirt that I cannot buy, I'm going to keep writing, keep logging in word count at the NaNo site, until tomorrow night. See how far I get. I doubt I can finish the first draft by then, but it'll get me farther. And even after tomorrow I won't stop. I'll keep on writing. And I won't go back to the way I wrote before NaNo--writing, revising, editing, writing some more. No, no.
The most valuable lessons I garnered from this month, these "thirty days and nights of literary abandon", were these:
- Write. Just--write. Don't worry about revising, not before you put the story down first. Later there's always time to revise and edit and rewrite. But the main thing: get the story down first.
- You are your limitations. And those limitations are all in your head. Think you can't, and--voila--you can't. But raise the bar, aim for the impossible, and--taah-daah! There it is. Raise the bar for yourself constantly. Celebrate the achievement, sure, but--don't let it go to your head. If you did *this*, whatever it was, it means you can do more. Quality-wise, quantity-wise. Whatever. You can do more. Always. Never let yourself forget it.
So... There you go. That's the end of my NaNo experience, technically. In reality, it's the beginning--truly--of my life as a writer.