This announcement is a bit overdue, but it’s still true: I won NaNo!
I wrote 50,247 words of a novel in November, according to the official NaNo word count validator. (Microsoft Word’s count was a slightly more modest 50,143.) It was a bit of a rough go, as can often be the case. As I mentioned here, I decided to write a prequel of sorts to my 2011 novel, which is the one I want to revise and finish (and revise… lather, rinse, repeat). But for some reason, I couldn’t really get into a flow of good scenes and happenings. I do think there are a few worthwhile bits in there, but only time will tell. Near the end of the month, I also fell off my schedule of reaching at least the daily quota. Once I’d gotten behind and it turned out I needed to write over 8,000 words in the last two days of November, I very nearly threw in the towel. But I didn’t, and I’m glad.
By achieving this Clutch List goal, I brought my stats to ten consecutive years doing NaNo, with six wins. That amounts to whole bunch of words, and while a lot of them are clearly aimed at hitting that word count goal (and a few, written in various states of sleep deprivation and/or delirium, are close to nonsensical!), there are definitely some gems in there. I hope to excavate some of them in the coming year. One day I will finally be able to say I finished a novel, which is an entirely different beast and one I find mighty daunting, to say the least. But I haven’t stopped dreaming about it, so I really should make it happen one of these years. Why not 2014?
On that note, I’m not sure I’ll do NaNo next year. I guess it depends on where I’m at with the revision project and whether or not I want to take a break with a totally new novel. Meanwhile, I read this great post by Jennie Day last month and it got me thinking about some things I often contemplate regarding creativity, productivity, and their mysterious interplay. Jennie had listened to a podcast in which writer Courtenay Hameister cautions aspiring authors against spending too much time (read: too many words) writing for social media:
Can you imagine reading Jack Kerouac’s drunken Facebook posts from The Road?
Or Jane Austen’s blog, ‘Austen-tatious’?
Sure, it would have been interesting, but none of these people would have wanted to have a platform, because what they wanted to do was write. And not write tweets or tumblr posts with blurry Instagrams of their mutton and mead, but books and poems. Not to write about their writing, but just to write.
It pains me to think that writers are pulling from their creative wells to fill their twitter streams instead of pages. If you think about it that way, these platforms are robbing us all of words that otherwise would have been great works of art.
In response, Jennie wrote:
[I]t hadn’t ever occurred to me that maybe blogging is misappropriating my creative faculties, or in some way preventing me writing my Great American Novel.
I found Jennie’s post so interesting because I’ve had similar concerns. Not as much about blogging, but about my employment. As I told Jennie in a comment, I write and edit for a living, and I have used that as an excuse to explain why I’ve not been more productive in pursuing my fiction writing dreams. But then I came to realize that it was exactly that: an excuse. Like anything else, perspective affects the outcome, and I was choosing the wrong perspective. My other writing/projects don’t drain the well, they prime the pump. I just had to decide to look at them that way.
Jennie came to a similar conclusion about blogging:
Blogging is helping to make me a better writer because every week, I sit down at my computer to write and edit and revise and read aloud to make sure my sentences make sense….
Doing a once-yearly writing challenge doesn’t get my creative juices flowing as consistently as blogging does. But we cannot forget that writing is not just about creativity. It takes discipline to actually sit down and turn ideas into good sentences. That’s something the good writers have, or have cultivated, and that’s what blogging has done to make me a better writer.
So now that I’ve taken my work off the table, as far as excuses go, it’s time to dig into some of my others and figure out how to break them down, as well. This novel isn’t going to write itself!
My new (to me) guitar.
Meanwhile, now that the looming word count goals of November are behind me, I’ve still got almost two weeks left in the Clutch List challenge, plenty of time to restring and tune my guitar. (I still want to take/post photos of the real thing. Should be able to while I’m restringing/tuning up!) My Clutch List achievements have been drifting from my attention a bit lately, and I’d like to finish the challenge out with a
Time to reconnect with my Clutch List and treat myself to a strong finish!