I did it!
I set out to finish NaNoWriMo, and 58,000 words later, I did. It’s not so much the finishing that excites me as the fact that I didn’t give up. Going into this challenge for the first time, I worried that my own insecurities (or laziness or start something but not finish it idealism, take your pick) would get in the way. Basically, I worried I would stand in my own way. Also the fear of this seemingly insurmountable challenge played a large part in my worries. Numerous people I told about my participation in the challenge countered with their own stories of starting but not finishing NaNoWriMo.
And yet, somehow, I survived it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. Really, it wasn’t. Because of my months of planning for and mulling over of my story, I knew exactly what I wanted to write. Writing the outline gave my story a skeleton, which left me to put the meat on it during NaNoWriMo. I also found the best time of day for me to write–at night, after the workday was over and I’d finished any homework. But, I didn’t pigeonhole myself into one writing time slot. Sometimes I wrote in the mornings, sometimes on my lunch break. By the end of the month, I found that it wasn’t so much the thought, “I have to write today,” but a question, “When do I get to write today?” On Thursday the 29th, I found myself sitting in front of the television ready to veg out with my NBC comedies, but instead, I kept the TV off and wrote. Because I wanted to, not felt compelled to, write.
So what is the takeaway from this experience? Well, I spent the first weekend of December celebrating. Now I’m catching up on sleep. I have a finished manuscript, which is an exciting triumph I’ve never experienced before. I can now lower my voice and turn to “pretentious Kait” and tell people I wrote a novel. That’s exciting.
As for the book itself, my plan is to shelve it for a few weeks (I need to distance myself in order to go back to it with fresh eyes). Then I’ll give it the first editorial pass. My friend and NaNoWriMo cohort, Mary, had the great idea to trade manuscripts after we’ve edited our own books. That way we can give each other the desperately needed feedback and answers to tough questions like “Should I cut this character?” or “Does this scene work?” I recently discovered that March is NaNoEdMo, or National Novel Editing Month. That seems like the perfect time for Mary and I to edit each other’s books. Then, who knows, maybe I’ll send it off to some agents. It never hurts to try.
I am excited to say I wrote a book and to have conquered NaNoWriMo, but more than that, I’m thankful that this month has taught me some much needed discipline. We all makes excuses about writing, but really, there is time to write. You have to be willing to look for it, and sometimes you have to make sacrifices to find it. But it’s worth it, it really is. Thank you NaNoWriMo for showing me that.