Actually, that wasn’t a great way to start, but it feels good to get off my chest. Maybe I should back up and clarify what I’ve won, for those that don’t recognize that long acronym.
The last post I made in my website was for Halloween, just about a month ago. I’ve been all but invisible on the internet for the month of November. November is National Novel Writing Month, more commonly known in the geeky writing world as NaNoWriMo. This year, for the first time, I participated with more than 300,000 others in the goal of trying to write at least 50,000 words towards a novel in 30 days. I won that. Well, me and a few tens of thousands of others. Any member of NaNoWriMo that writes and validates their 50,000 words before November 30th at midnight (which is still nine hours away in my time zone) will win.
What do we all win? Well, first there are all the jpegs of winning, similar to the two I posted above…those are totally free when you win, yippee! Second, we win the opportunity to purchase a winner’s tee-shirt…at, um full cost…but we get to purchase it as winners! Third, and the most meaningful thing to me, we win the right to feel pride of accomplishment.
Writing 50,000 words of a novel is not easy task. I can vouch for that because I have written a 66,000 word novel already. It took me most of a year to create what most authors would call the first draft. The 50,000 words I just wrote on my second novel took me just 29 days. It’s a rough draft and it’s not totally complete, but the story is there. It wants to be polished and embellished, but its essence is there.
NaNoWriMo is an interesting concept in that it brings writers together in community, both online community and inperson community. Being a devoted introvert, I didn’t summon the energy or courage to drop in on one of the inperson “write-ins”, as they’re called, that were held in the Twin Cities area. I did have a couple of on-line writing buddies and I read all the pep talks given by past participants and published authors. The pep talks were worth the price of admission for me. Again, I need to clarify. In fact, the price of admission is free. Once I put my story through the word counter and validated my win, I also decided that I had gotten value out of the month long exercise. Value in the form of specific things I learned that I will use when writing in the future. That value is worth real money. Which is why after I validated my win and received my winner’s jpegs, I gave NaNoWriMo some money. So my clarification is that the pep talks were worth the price of my donation.
At the end of the day, or in this case the end of the month, what do I have? I have the very rough first draft of my second novel length story, I have the pride I earned for having the discipline to get my imagination out of my head on to paper and I have 3 pages of tips, tricks and learnings from the pep talkers at Nano.
The most important thing I learned this month? Like almost everything else in the world worth doing, writing is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. There are some great tips for helping make the perspiration more productive, but for the most part a writer has to sit down and write. As someone once said, “The worst story ever published is better than the Nobel Prize in Literature winning novel that is still in your head.”