During the month of November, you may have seen random combinations of letters popping up everywhere. NanoASFH? NaNoWRUJNF? Actually, it’s NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. This clever and witty program was developed by Chris Baty, some guy who writes stuff.
The game is simply. Craft a novel in 30 days. Said novel must be 50,000 words or more. Go.
I undertook the challenge. And friends… I must say, I won.
For the first time in my three attempts, I broke the magical number. My novel isn’t finished, but it has hit the plateau, plus an extra 100 words or so (I’m such an over achiever). I now want to recount some of the top ten memories, some of the horror, some of the dastardly happenings that took place during this festive writer’s holiday.
1. Eternal yearning. Being so overly melodramatic, with the use of commas, with the use of adjectives, with the use of dramatic pauses, with the use of using a repetitive structure to give things more emotion. Yeah, this happened too much. 2. A job. Since I graduated in May, I have been looking for a full-time, grown-up job. It just so happens that I obtain said job in second to last week of November. Oops. I spent that whole week not writing a word, which was to say the least, a little costly. I ended up writing 5,000 words a day in the last two days of the month in order to catch up. 3. Too much. My story is like a soap opera. I didn’t intend for this to happen; it just kind of did. Girl’s fiancé is murdered, girl gets raped, girl runs from police, girl gets caught from police, girl is pregnant, girl escapes with rapist. I think in editing I may have to cut back on the amount of BAM factor… if not, maybe I’ll create a pilot for the Young and the Restless 2. 4. Not a Bella. I finally wrote a story where the characters are not Mary Sues. This has always been a problem for me, as I think characters should always have a good idea of what is happening and always act like I want them to. This, however, is not how a real character would be, for everyone does not have my blasé personality. These characters have come alive, though I have to watch where I take them. 5. Time machine. I found that my beginning, when I kept up with the word count everyday and wasn’t lagging behind, is really developed and more of my style. Towards the middle and end, when things get rushed, I feel like I have regressed to my high school writing technique that lacks voice and beauty and instead relies on the tactic of surprise factor. Oops. 6. Used my English degree. That’s right folks – that $40,000 a year I paid to get a piece of paper that says I can read finally paid off. My story deeply involved many of the different legends of medieval romance – primarily the figure of King Arthur – which is something I would not know much about if I hadn’t taken some awesome medieval and renaissance classes. I mean, come on. Have you non-English majors ever heard of Sir Degare, Emare, or Cliges? Wait, does that mean you won’t like or understand my book, and that it’s only audience is going to be other out-of-work English snobs? Oh. 7. Conquering the sickness. No, I didn’t get the flu, but I learned something very valuable here. Ordinarily, I am plagued with the disease of motion sickness. This happens every time I try to do anything in a moving vehicle, like reading, turning around, focusing on something that isn’t the road, etc. However, I found out that if I put my laptop in my lap, don’t look at the screen, and let my fingers go wild, I can actually write in the car. This was very useful as I took several road trips, and let me get a few extra pages. However, I did have to do a bit of spell check afterwards. 8. Bus time. Similar to the point above, I figured out that I can write on the bus during my morning commute. Since I don’t lug my computer with me on the bus, I found another way to do this – typing on my phone using the application Evernote. It’s kind of a sucky option, but it let me get several hundred words each morning, which was vital on those days I was 10,000 words behind. Then I could access that same file later in the day from my work computer. Contrary to above, it made me sick, but that usually happens on the bus regardless. 9. What’s that mean? I started out without a real clear idea of where I was heading with my story. I had a basic plot in mind, one that I have had in my head since I was a little kid. Therefore, when I started adding in different images, like the sky, or a character’s black eyes, I thought they were arbitrary details. But as I kept coming back to them, I realized they were very important symbols that deeply explained the character’s psyche. The main character wants to see the sky because she wants to fly away, yet she is so tied down by her own order and perfection that this is not possible until later when she lets go, and is embodied by the fact that she physically does fly. 10. The big one. The day after I finished, I was exhausted, tired, and spent most of my waking hours working. But still, I found myself thinking about my plot and wishing I had time to jot a few things down. The next day, I was busy again with work, but I still found myself drifting away, imagining I was in my literary world. Thinking how much I would rather be writing. The capstone of this moment came when I was on the bus on the way home, and I saw my reflection, and I realized that the look I just gave myself is how my main character would look. It was then that I reaffirmed my decision to want to be a writer. Just imagining myself doing this every day of the year makes me so happy compared to my current schedule. I am a writer, from the very depth of my core to the artistic persona I display in every moment.