It’s officially the middle of November.
My current word count is smack dab in the middle of where I’m supposed to be for NaNoWriMo.
Wait, but Randi, what the hell is this foreign language of which you speak? (Come on, most people who read this blog are authors and they know. But I’ll indulge the one person who doesn’t know.)
NaNoWriMo is the incredibly hipster way to say National Novel Writing Month. It’s almost like one of those power couples, though NaNoWriMo doesn’t fall off your tongue quite as smoothly as Brangelina. (Now, everyone shed a tear for the power couple that is now heading to divorce court.)
Unlike Brangelina, NaNoWriMo continues to get bigger and bigger every year.
Every year I sign up with the best of intentions. For reals, yo.
Last year was the very first year I ever completed it. (You may know that project as Virtue of Death.) Yay me.
But it was not without heartache and pain. About the midway point (so, roughly this day last year), I was at 37,000 words (yes, I know, I’m a show-off, get over it). The problem was, at those 37,000 words, my characters told me I had told their story.
I was done.
Once again I was a NaNo loser.
It ate at me. It ripped through me. The perfectionist and overachiever in me rocked in the corner in the fetal position, sobbing over the fact my characters were making me fail. It wasn’t my fault, it couldn’t be my fault, so, like every sane(?) person out there, I blamed the voices in my head.
Eventually, after an afternoon of staring at index cards with plot points on them, moving them around, adding more, and some more corner-rocking, I finally had a plan. By the end of November, I had about 58,000 words. (If you read Virtue of Death, you’ll find it’s significantly longer than that. It actually ended around 73,000 words. There’s that overachiever again, but it took me a couple months to get to that point.)
This year it’s a bit different. I’ve taken a much more laid back approach to things. In fact, it was so laid back that I had a really hard time getting into these characters. Once I did get into them, I loved them. As it turns out, they’re a bit introverted, as am I, so we just sat along the wall staring in our drinks as opposed to mingling early on.
Am I right where I’m supposed to be? Yes, according to the little graph, my project is right where it is supposed to be. I’m projected to finish before the end of November.
You know what, though? I guarantee you I won’t.
As much as I’d love to shirk all my responsibilities and do nothing but write, drink wine, and eat chocolate, that’s just not in the cards. I’m not exactly sure how I pulled it off last year, but I foresee ending at least 10,000 shy of the 50,000 word goal.
For the first time ever… I’m actually okay with it. (This shows tremendous growth on my part, dammit.)
Look, I know other people write faster, it’s not a race. I’m consistently trying to remind my daughter not to rush through her homework or her math test because if she does, she makes sloppy mistakes. The same is true for being a writer. Moving quickly means sacrificing rich detail and making it easier for plot holes to slip in. Considering one of the most common compliments I got about Virtue of Death was that the descriptions were on point, I definitely don’t want to drop the ball on that. (And believe me, to get them there took two months of changes and additions after NaNo was over.)
The point is, last year I wasn’t published. I was just a girl with a dream. I didn’t care so much about mechanics. That could all be fixed later. It still can be this year, and it will be, but I’m much more comfortable taking my time and making sure I do it right.
After all, I think I owe my publisher that much.
So this month I will write. Next month I will write. The month after I will write. I won’t have a novel in thirty days. But with any luck, when it’s all said and done, I’ll have something damn good in my hands.