Well, there's no easy way to put this but I did not complete National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) my first time out. With November surging in and barreling towards the end of a year where I have many deadlines to meet (personal, professional, creative, and so forth) I was unable to get to the halfway mark. At last count I reached 19,735 words for the novel I was to write in 30 days at 50,000 words (or more) to have completed NaNoWriMo successfully.
While I didn't complete the word count for my NaNoWriMo project I was consistently writing. What exactly was I writing you may ask? Well, I was writing artist statements for three pending fellowship applications, I was revising and writing and editing portions of my passion project (a linked story collection) for myself, my writing groups, and said applications; I was writing blog posts along with articles for submission to writer-focused magazines and numerous e-mails, tweets, and Facebook posts. If I tabulated all the writing I did in November that was creative I would've surpassed my 50,000 word goal in a span of not just 30 days, but probably within a week or two. So I don't feel too bad that for this specific task I fell short.
The novel I envisioned was part mainstream, part thriller, part coming of age, part LGBT love story. To sum it up a female college student in New York City plans to murder her abusive father with the help of her girlfriend. As they plan Sept. 11th (the new day that will live in infamy) happens and she thinks that in the midst of all the craziness of the day this would be the perfect time for her to enact on this plan thinking no one would care about one drunken man's death while so many lives were lost needlessly. Intriguing, huh?
Yeah, I thought so. And I think with most ideas that spring up on us we get excited at the idea itself in the beginning. We get amped at the action-packed portions that will titillate readers and engross them, make them keep reading past their subway stop. We as artists get a thrilling chill at the thought that we're about to embark on something fresh and thought-provoking. But the process of actually creating can be tiresome, laborious, somewhat tedious if you're not passionate about it. And while I went into NaNoWriMo with full enthusiasm it tapered off when the project I've been dedicating myself to for about three years came calling and I had to chose between my children (so to speak) and devote time to my favorite. So I shelved the new novel for the on-going project. When my mind was a blank I found myself back at the new novel typing away, not really considering how the plot was forming or if anything made sense, just letting my fingers move so that I could get the daily word count, weekly word count, or catch up when I was lagging behind, which became more consistent in weeks 2, 3, and 4.
Participants and organizers of NaNoWriMo don't expect you to craft the perfect novel. They don't expect your prose to be precise or eloquent. And they certainly don't expect the clearest piece of literature to come out of NaNoWriMo. Nope, they expect you to write! That's it. "Don't be afraid to produce crap," one post on the NaNoWriMo website noted. Just keep going and even when you're blank keep going. Don't edit, just write. That's right keep going, keep going, and don't stop 'til your fingers are about to fall off. Okay, maybe they're not that aggressive but you get my point. The point of NaNoWriMo is to bring writers together, to get your creative juices flowing for 30 days straight, for you to stop saying you're going to write that book and actually do it. Via the weekly write-ins in person or online or the big last minute write-a-thon in California or via weekly e-mail motivational blasts or through other events in your areas you're encouraged to be productive. And then, after all is said and done each region hosts a TGIO (Thank God It's Over) party! And you can meet participants who have or haven't finished like yourself and perhaps get a group going, meet your creative soul mate or inspiration, and come back next year for more.
While I was sidelined by my own goals that I didn't completely accomplish (I blame you root canal!) I think I did a pretty decent job for this project and am looking forward to participating again both in Microsoft Word, online, and perhaps at one of those in-person write-in sessions. 'Til then I'll keep trying to finish my passion project and such in the coming year and hopefully have something bigger to show you that I put all my love and care and time and energy into.
(Also want to mention that there's a NaNoWriMo for screenplays. This will be held in April and is called Script Frenzy. One hundred pages in thirty days, check it screenwriters!)