and ramblings on everything in between
On November 1st, I knew what the first and last lines of my novel would be. My goal was to get from the first line to the last before November 26 and that was it. I had no other fantasies or plans for what would come after that point.
On November 21st, I crossed the NaNo finish line with just over 51,000 words. On November 23rd, I completed my first novel at just over 58,000 words. When I finally got to type the last line, I laid my head on my desk and thanked God for helping me to make it. I think part (or almost all) of my success can be attributed to the fact that I started each writing session with a quick prayer. Help me to focus and get this written, I whispered each day.
I cracked open a cheap bottle of champagne and FaceTimed with my mom so we could toast my achievement.
“Let me see the manuscript,” she said.
I flipped the camera and scrolled through the pages.
“Wow,” she said, “it’s so official – with paragraph indents and chapters and dialogue,” she laughed.
After 12 pages, I figured she got the point. I spared her the other 72.
Now what do I do with my pile of 58,100 words?
All the friends I told to point and laugh at me if I threatened to quit have started asking the most preposterous questions, like “Can I read your novel?”
“NOOO!” I want to gasp. “It’s utter crap. Really. Pure rubbish.”
I guess I was so focused on seeing if I could write a novel that I failed to think about what I would do if I did write a novel. I know I need some time away from it – we were getting rather sick of each other. My goal is to start editing it in January and then see if the second draft looks less like pure rubbish before sharing it with my friends.
I don’t have to tell you that writing is personal. You know this already. All my other hobbies I’m eager to share with others: “Look at this scrapbook I created!” or “Try this new soup recipe I made tonight.” and “You’ve got to read this book. It made me cry for hours.”
But the words, “Here, read this story I just wrote!” fail to make their way across my lips. I want to hold it close to me just as much as it wants to escape from within me. Isn’t that why we sit down and write in the first place? Because the notion refuses to leave us alone until it is given a place to live and a blank page to devour.
It’s a tedious, consuming, and personal business, this writing thing, and I don’t feel complete unless I’m doing it. The editing part, though…I’ll have to get back to you on that.
Congratulations to all the NaNo participants this year! Each and every single one of you are winners in my book. You understand that the notion that has been following you around mustn’t be ignored, and regardless of if you make it to 50K words or not, you’ve still agreed to breathe life into it, even if it’s just for a little while. And that takes courage.