It's both exhilarating and terrifying.
When I first heard about this intriguing event called National Novel Writing Month, or as most people now call it, NaNo, I was a hard core dabbler in writing. I'd dabble in this, and dabble in that, write out character sketches and summaries, and dream of becoming a famous author.
NaNo is all about getting the story written. You can do as much prep work as you like, but come November 1st you need to buckle down and get to work. Sounded like fun to me! So I talked a writerly friend of mine into signing up too (it's always more fun with a buddy) and away we went. Pretty much the only things I remember from that first year was that I was working full time, gummi bears were my snack of choice, and coffee is my friend. :-)
I did not complete the challenge that first year. I made it to 33,000 words and ran out of story. However, I was far from disappointed. For one thing, I had a great time and met some really interesting people online. And for another, I genuinely liked the story I'd written. But the most important thing was, I finished it. I'd never finished a story before. And let me tell you, it was an awesome feeling.
Of course the story itself was one hot mess. This was before I realized that I was a pantser, not a plotter. But that's a post for another time. ;-)
Ironically, the friend I
I didn't do NaNo the next year, but the year after that I did, and completed the challenge with words to spare. It was an awesome feeling. I wasn't going to do it the following year, but on November 1 a name popped into my head: Treasure Beaumont. And I was off and running with the longest novel I'd written to date. The following year I was one week and 10,000 words into the story when I realized this was not a book to be written quickly. For one thing, it required a lot of research. So I tabled it and started a brand new novel. And reached my 50,000 by the end of the month.
I have completed the NaNo challenge eight times, but have yet to complete one of my NaNo novels. See, with NaNo it's like that scene in Cannonball Run where the guy rips off his rear view mirrow and says, "What's behind me doesn't matter." NaNo is all about the words - good, bad, or indifferent. Just get that 50K done no matter what. You need to write 1667 words per day to complete the challenge so there's no dilly dallying to pick the right word, just put in whatever word works and fix it in January (because you'll be too exhausted in December).
This has left me with eight, count 'em, EIGHT incomplete novels. While it's true most of them have their finale where everything is nicely wrapped up with a bow, there are gaps and plot holes where I couldn't take the time to figure out what happened next so I just skipped ahead. It's not pretty.
I have two novels (not NaNos) that I want to have out before Christmas, I've already started the sequels to both of them, and I've started the first three books in a seven-book series. Not to mention the fact that my life has got a whole lot busier lately. So much so that most days I'm hard pressed to manage my daily quota of 500 words - 1667 would be out of the question. And to be perfectly honest? The last thing I need is another "not quite there yet" novel to have to fix.
Will I miss it? You betcha! There is an energy to NaNo that you will find no where else and at no other time. It can only happen in November. You become part of this world wide community of fellow writers who become friends. Even if you can't attend the write-ins or parties, you can't help but get caught up in the excitement.
But while I'll miss the sense of community, I will not miss having one more incomplete, 50,000 word novel.