This year’s NaNoWriMo ended at midnight on November 30. Sometime around 9:30PM on the 30th, I submitted my 50,199 words and got back the “You’re a Winner!” response just seconds later. With 2 ½ hours to spare! That 2 ½ hours is like 5 days in procrastinator time, so I don’t even consider this a last-minute victory. In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m kinda sorry I missed the sheer adrenaline rush of frantically typing away to get to 50k as the clock counted down to zero . . .
I really wasn’t sure I’d make it to 50k until I actually clicked the Recount button in Word for the last time. I boarded a plane around 4:00PM on November 30, still about 2300 words short. Since my travel experience has taught me never to assume that my plane will land at 6:30 just because the schedule says so, I wasn’t counting on being home in time to finish. Even after we landed early, I didn’t get too excited about it. The charger for my laptop was in my checked bag, and another thing my travel experience has taught me is never to assume your checked bag will arrive at the same destination as you.
But after a very long wait at baggage claim (confirming my theory that DTW is the slowest airport in the world for baggage except possibly Las Vegas, where you can at least lose money in the slot machines while waiting), my suitcase appeared. I got home around 7:15, and after spending some time whining about the snow on the ground, I unpacked my charger, looked at the barrage of encouraging emails from the NaNo directors (“You can do it!” and “You’re already a winner!”), and started typing.
So what did I end up with after 50,000 words? About 159 pages of a disjointed mess of an incomplete story, full of characters like “Sgt Bad Guy” and “Newcomer.” Even the characters I named ended up confusing me. When I looked back at the first chapter, I realized that I’d introduced a character that I never mentioned again! And as I skimmed through the early chapters, I came across a name I didn’t recognize in chapter 4. “Who the hell is that?” I asked myself. After reading more closely, I realized that it was one of my main characters, who had mysteriously changed her name for one chapter.
But I’m a winner! I have a purple bar after my pseudonym on the NaNo site.
Of course, the really hard part begins now. As I said at the beginning, spewing out words is pretty easy for me–quantity over quality! Doing something with those words, making sense of the tangled plot line, naming all those characters, switching gears to quality over quantity, that’s going to be hard.
Without any kind of deadline to fire up my competitive spirit, I’m also doubtful about my ability to focus on and complete this task. My procrastination and rationalization skills are already kicking in: I should step away from the story for a while and get some perspective, so let’s wait until after Christmas. I have a cold, and I can’t write while breathing through my mouth. I want to read other people’s stories, which will help me develop as a writer.
That’s why I’m deputizing anyone who reads this. Feel free to nag me/kick my butt as often as you like. Maybe I’ll name a character after you.