Sunday, November 27, 2011

Crossing the Finish Line
(2011 NaNoWriMo Update)

There's a saying (I think it was something I actually heard in a Beatles song) that states, Life is what happens to you while you're making other plans. The same is true for a writer trying to finish his novel. During the process, you can count on this: life will throw many curve balls at you. The thing to do is to get up each day, take a breath, step back into the batter's box, and swing away. Some days you will strike out. Some days you will only make it to first base. But there are days when you will not only knock it out of the park, but you'll send a crushing grand slam into the bleachers and drive in all those other single-basers as well.

My 2011 NaNoWriMo experience was just like this. Some days I just didn't clock in the minimum 1,667 words. Those days were few, though, and all my other days made up for the process, especially the days when I clocked in more than two-thousand words. The items that krept into my life this time around? First, my daughter had a tonsilectomy. Personally, I have never had my tonsils removed, but I can tell you as a parent it has to be painful. My daughter is now at Day #7, and she's still in recovery. Suffice it to say, an event like this has a way of interrupting your plans.

The second thing that stood in the way of NaNoWriMo is so common that I might as well plan for it in the future: the holidays. As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, there is so much focus on family and food that all other plans need to sit on the bench... especially writing a novel. How do you tell your spouse that writing your masterpiece is more important than spending time with family? The answer is you don't. You go, you drink and eat, and you set your sights on picking back up later. I don't know why the creators of NaNoWriMo chose November to do this event. Maybe it's a way to see who is dedicated and who isn't. Thankfully, they didn't choose December. I believe the obstacles in that month would probably thin the herd of winners.

So, my NaNo goal was set back a day. Big deal. Last night I met my minimum at around forty-nine-thousand words. I looked at that and said, "There's no way I'm going to stop today when I'm so close to the finish line." So, I pressed on and moved past the ultimate goal: fifty-thousand words in thirty days. That's not to suggest that my novel is done. It's not. In fact, it's probably only two-thirds complete. But a finished novel in thirty days isn't the primary focus. Writing the minimum to be called a novel is.

With December just around the corner, and my other project (2011 Holiday Story Exchange) deadline just a couple weeks away, I'll probably slow down a little, and my novel will be finished sometime before (or maybe after) the first of the new year. But that's okay, too. My goal for 2011 NaNoWriMo is complete, I'm firmly on the path of my story and into the lives of my characters, and my finished novel is within my grasp.

Until next time...


  1. Congrats on hitting the Nano target - and all the best for bringing that novel home before too long.

    And the line is from a John Lennon solo track - Beautiful Boy:

  2. Oh BIG BIG congratulations to you! I've been NaNo-ing myself and it's been an exhilarating, frustrating ride. Like you there were a few nights where I thought I just could not write one more word. Others, they flew. I have about 5,000 words to write and I know I can do it. I"ve written 2,000 words already today and I'm tempted to do more. On the other hand, I kind of like the idea of crawling up to the finish line and completing the challenge in the very nick of time. More drama, maybe? Like there isn't enough in real life?
    I hope your daughter is feeling better soon and I sincerely hope you finish that novel when you say you're going to. BEST of LUCK! Now you can really enjoy the holidays that are coming up!

  3. Dan: Thanks. Now I know why I thought it was a Beatles tune. :)

    Cathy: Being this close to the marker, you're going to finish. Excellent work, my friend! You deserve two big thumbs up.

  4. Congrats on completing the 50k in time Stephen, it's a hell of an achievement for anyone.

    As you say, the November celebrations must make it harder to get the word count in, but many people who take part in the NaNo don't live in the USA, and don't celebrate the thanksgiving, and are therefore unaffected by it.

  5. Steve: I apologize. I didn't intend for that remark to come across as another example of American arrogance. You're right: what one month brings in holidays for one country certainly doesn't affect other countries.

  6. It didn't come across as arrogant at all Stephen, and I hope I didn't seem to be implying that it did, I was just making an observation that's all. :-)

  7. Steve: Thanks. I appreciate that.

  8. Hi Stephen. Congrats on finishing NaNo. No matter what month they choose there'll always be interruptions. Those who don't live in the States also wonder why the name isn't changed to International Novel Writers Month, as it is truly a global event and National means only the States.

    I managed 54000 words. A great motivation to write despite the other demands on us.


  9. Congratulations on crossing your goal line. May you actually be finished, at least with this chapter of its existence, soon. Wretched editing awaits.

  10. Denise: You make a great point. I don't know how hard it would be for them to change names, but it would certainly be more inclusive if they did.

    John: Thanks. With my other project (Holiday Story Exchange) due soon, I'm slightly derailed. I will be back to work on it soon, though. I hope to have the first draft finished by the end of the year.

  11. It's a major accomplishment Stephen. Congratulations!

  12. Well done and congratulations for reaching the 50 thou mark!

    I was cheering all the way for you throws handful of sparkly glitter in celebration ..•*¨`*•. ☆ .•*¨`*•.

  13. Harry & Helen: Thank you so much. I truly appreciate it.