Well, it’s October, and for me that means that I am staring down the barrel of the biggest challenge of my whole year. NaNoWriMo. Or, for those who don’t know the term, National Novel Writing Month.
Each year, I spend my November attempting an insane challenge. 50,000 words in 30 days. I’ve participated each year for the past five years, I believe, and I’ve managed to succeed at the challenge three times. It’s a race against yourself more than against anyone else and it’s something that I highly recommend for other writers. At the very least it’s a lot of fun to simply let the story go where it will… though that’s something I’m not particularly good at doing myself.
Last year was not one of my best. Each time I fail at the challenge, it hurts, but it’s because of circumstances beyond my control. The first time I failed was because the desktop computer I was using completely died on me. I was able to continue writing on a borrowed laptop, but I couldn’t access the Internet on it. So I couldn’t verify my word count. So I got within sight of the finish line and gave up. Last year… well, last year was something no one could have expected, much less blamed me for.
November had just started, I was doing really well, but had hit a snag in terms of how to proceed. I was getting it figured out when I got a phone call that pretty well changed everything. My father died unexpectedly. This was within months of losing my step-father as well. I had to make a very stressful road trip and my November was pretty well shot.
So now it’s almost a year later and I’m looking forward at another November and I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to do this year. I want to succeed. I want to reach that goal line because I think I need the success. I need to accomplish something, even if it’s a 50,000 word manuscript of chaos and confusion. I need to know that I can finish what I start.
I manage it so rarely.
I don’t know yet what I’m going to write about. I might make a second attempt at the story I was doing last year. There’s nothing in the rules that says that I can’t use the same plot as a previous year, so long as I don’t recycle any actual word count from anywhere else. All the words for the challenge have to be written during the month of November. I didn’t get very far into it last year, so it’s not really much hassle to start back at the very beginning and try again. I just need a better idea of where I’m going with it and how I want to get there.
Yeah, I’m not one of the best about writing badly, which is as much the point of NaNoWriMo as reaching the word count. For some reason the perfectionist in my soul insists on doing well at anything I make an attempt at doing. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right and it’s worth doing well. So I insist on an actual plot, with real characterization and development, with a beginning, a middle, and an end. The whole package.
I managed it once. The other two NaNoWriMo successes reached the word count finish line before the story could reach that end. The one that saw the line and missed it would have had that ending, if I had completed it. I’d like to manage it again. For my own satisfaction. Because I know I can, I just need to do it.
If anyone is participating in the madness, I go by MrsGrizzley there, and I’d love to have some more writing buddies.