Friday, November 29, 2013

Words are not scary...

I'm a winner! Yes, I completed National Novel Writing Month. I have the winner's certificate and the crippling addiction to salt and pepper Triscuits to prove it. It's been a month, well 26 days, and I'm looking forward to going back to the novel and fixing it. Editing is not the goal of NaNoWriMo; getting to the end is. There are lots of things I'd like to go back and add and finesse. And I will. After I take a little break from these characters and spend a little time doing other things like reading and eating real meals.

It's been an interesting month. I have spent at least 3-4 hours a day writing since starting the novel on November 1. This is in addition to going to work, seeing family and friends, running errands, doing chores, you know living life and all. When I wasn't sitting at my computer writing, I was jotting things down in my notebook or thinking about some plot point or little thing about a character. My daily word goal might have been 1667 words (although I did more than this almost every day that I wrote), but I was writing more that didn't make it in or was just for me to reference. There's actually an entirely different ending somewhere in the book. It would have been sadder but also true to the characters. However, other things would have had to happen that didn't for this ending to work.

Which brings me to the most fascinating part of NaNoWriMo: every single person I talk to wants to know either what I won or when my novel will be published. Here the definitive answers to both of these questions: a sense of accomplishment and I don't know. You don't really win anything by finishing a NaNoWriMo novel. There are contests you can enter that might help with the publishing part and we get offers for binding the book and other author-y things but there's not a novel that is voted the winner. Over 300,000 people participated in some way this year. How would a winner be selected? So my standard answer to what I won is a sense of accomplishment and knowledge that I can do this. I can take an idea (however small and odd to everyone else), create characters, figure out a plot, and get us to an ending that I enjoy. If you don't try something you'll never know what you're capable of and now I know that I am capable of writing a novel.

Then there's the second question: when are you going to publish it? I really don't know. It's not ready for publishing. First of all, it needs to be edited. I rarely went back and reread what I wrote. I knew that if I did that I would never finish because I would keep changing things and focus too much on something that may or may not matter in the larger picture of the story. BUT there are also lots of things I know I need to work on before I would feel confident letting people read it let alone consider publishing it. There are some plot points I want to tighten and a few I'd like to expand (I would like to spend more time with Marnie and Oliver in their first dating phase and definitely give Ms. Thompson and Mr. Webb some additional background) and I think I need to work a bit more on the Metro Counselor organization before we get to the big reorganization that takes place later in the novel. A month is not a long time and even if I had taken the extra four days (since I finished on November 26), I still would be exactly where I am today. So, maybe I will try to self publish it, maybe I won't. But I do promise that when I'm ready to, you'll be allowed to read it in its entirety.

So what does a finished novel and NaNoWriMo look like in numbers? Let's take a look at my experience this month by the numbers:
  • Days to complete: 26 days 
  • Average words per day: 1903
  • Hours per day: 3-4 (although there were several days where I wrote all day and others when I wrote for 30 minutes)
  • Pages: 100 (single spaced, 12 point Times)
  • Chapters: 30 plus a Prologue and Epilogue
  • Final word count: 52,217
  • Words to finish (what I wrote on the last day): 3476 - this breaks down to 1259 to reach the 50K goal and another 2217 to finish the novel
  • Number of Hallmark holiday movies watched while writing: 15
  • Number of boxes of salt and pepper Triscuits consumed: 3
  • Number of hours I owe Pumpkin in petting and attention: 624
  • Number of times I asked myself why I was torturing myself this way: 75
  • Number of times I listened to my "Lou Reed Dance Party" mix: 17
  • Number of times I listened to the song "Gold Dust Woman": I wish I had kept track. I would estimate about 75
  • New bands added into a writing mix during week three: 4 (thanks to those who suggested music)
  • Glasses of champagne consumed upon completion: 1
Top five favorite things I wrote:
  1. "Holy cats, Marnie! You've been Lloyd Doblered!"
  2. "He hates scarves and unnecessary hats."
  3.  "Later today I promise to walk into something in the office because I’m daydreaming of Oliver if that will make you feel better.”
    “Yes it would. Just don’t cause any real injuries. You have a presentation tomorrow and a press conference on the 30th. No casts, stitches or braces please.”
    “I make no promises.”
  4.  Marnie and Oliver's second first date - second first dates should be a thing
  5. A debate between Marnie and Oliver about the album Lulu (Lou Reed and Metallica) - I agree with Marnie that it will age well.
I had a blast doing this and will definitely do it again next year. I plan to work on The Metro Counselor a bit over the holidays so hopefully I'll have something that I feel comfortable showing people sometime in the new year. Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo so if you know other people who are participating make sure to cheer them on in this last sprint to the finish. The last 5000 words are the hardest. I want to thank Neek Confessional and Bad Shakespeare for being my two biggest cheerleaders this month and for sharing their own novels with me (and the world). I wish Jessica and I had thought to get #hemingwaywasadrunk trending but alas, we did not. Maybe next year. They're both hilarious and great writers so if you haven't checked out their blogs, you should. It's good for your soul.

So you if you want to relive my NaNoWriMo posts, here they are in order starting at the beginning of the month:
I guess I should also thank the late Lou Reed. I had not intended for him to be such a big part of the novel but it happened. I like that his music was playing when my Marnie meets Oliver and that they share that musical moment. I like that Oliver made Marnie a mix tape called "Lou Reed Dance Party." I'm not entirely sure Lou would enjoy this novel but I hope he doesn't mind that he inspired some of it.

Up next on the Island: One month left in this leading lady quest so we'll check in on my progress and see what's left to do this year. And I promise the return of Lazy Movie Weekend with a holiday themed entry.

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