Tuesday, November 26, 2013

2013 NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up: Victory, Reflections, and Things to Come

Blog posts have been a bit thin on the ground as of late, but with good reason—I've been busy, hard at work on my novel, The Third Face of Janus, striving to reach the NaNoWriMo goal. Or rather, I had been busy, working relatively hard on the novel. If you haven't been following on Twitter or the Fane's Facebook page, it won't take long to get caught up: In an effort that was so direct as to preclude any appreciable amount of surprise at the outcome, I succeeded in topping the 50,000 words required to call myself a victor in this year's National Novel Writing Month. While the novel is far from finished—I expect to spend the next few months finishing the task of converting my novel-length narrative outline into a colossal manuscript before beginning a months-long editing process—it has indeed been accomplished. The battle has been won.

Before moving on to the rest of the war for writership, I think it best to reflect on the WriMo that was. It has been, for all intents and purposes, a fantastic month. I feel thoroughly redeemed following last year's dismal non-attempt. I've gathered unto myself a bevy of fantastic new literary acquaintances on Twitter, particularly those who participated in Friday Night Writes' boisterous Write Club sessions. I rediscovered my love for the creative process, renewed the appreciation I feel for the talents with which I'm gifted, and properly blew myself away with the level of productivity I was able to achieve. 

As I remarked in the previous post, this year's WriMo felt a bit off, owing to the ease with which I tackled each day's writing. In my previous successful attempt back in 2011—my first NaNoWrimo novel, The Lesser of Two Earths—I struggled well behind the pace for the entire month, only reaching the goal after a furious, mind-numbing effort that resulted in the addition of 15,813 words over the final three days of the month: 

It seemed a Herculean feat, as I recall. I can't say I remember it well, as those days were a blur, and so too are the memories hazy. I remember feeling exhausted for days afterword, though thoroughl content with my achievement. This year's WriMo effort, in stark contrast to 2011, was composed almost entirely of days such as those. 4,000 words per day seemed the norm, sometimes in as little as two hours' time. The lack of struggle was discomforting, unsettling, and it's not hard to see at which point those feelings overwhelmed me:

I was well ahead of the pace during the first half of the month, and that's including the first half of a week in which I wrote nothing at all. The lack of suspense had taken much of the fun out of the process, and like a spoiled brat I set about procrastinating until, on the 20th day of the WriMo, my word count fell behind the pace for the first time. I decided this manufactured concern would have to suffice, and returned to the project in earnest. Perhaps too much so. 

If anything can be said about the writing of those last 16,993 words, it's that my hands and forearms were less than pleased. There's always a slight discrepancy between Scrivener's word count and the official tally on the NaNoWriMo site, and I was short some 75 words. My arms, however, weren't having it—they thought the task had already been completed, and had already checked out. The physical effort required to add another few paragraphs was greater than that which had brought me just short of the goal. But there it was, a full 9 days left in the month, and I'd reached my goal. 

I took the rest of the day off, resting my arms and cursing myself slightly for having proven just how productive I can be, when properly motivated. The question of why I'm not more often motivated as such, even half as much, remains to be answered. The "why" isn't even necessarily that important, it's the doing that counts, and will continue to count. After a few days reveling in all things Whovian, and as the holiday season finally dawns on the Fane, the real question is, will I continue?

I can say, unequivocally, and for perhaps the first time since embarking on the writer's journey, that I feel like a proper novelist. As my novel is largely a character study, I'm not building worlds or weaving threads to create a complex plot; I am, however, in possession of an overall narrative in which I truly believe has merit, weight, value. I may spend a few more days catching the few bits of Whovian lore missing from my education, or throw on some Christmas tunes and raid the closet for decorations, but mark my words: I will complete the first draft of The Third Face of Janus

With the lack of down-to-the-wire anxiety, all the anticipation built up over the months prior to the WriMo are left wanting, and I aim to give them the satisfaction they're due. And besides, after seeing what I'm capable of, there's really no turning back. I've a new mission, and a renewed sense of purpose—I'm a novelist, now. And I don't think I could have reached that point without National Novel Writing Month having set the stage.

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