Crossing the 50K Line with NaNoWriMo

DING! DING! DING! Yesterday I crossed the National Novel Writing Month finish line when I wrote the 50,000th word of Pelican Island, my NaNo murder mystery. I didn’t stop writing even though the flashing lights and buzzers went crazy and someone started pouring champagne while a brass band played.

oh. wait.

maybe it didn’t happen quite like that.

Maybe no one even noticed when I got to word 50,001. And that brass band must have been playing on a different island. I just kept on slogging, slogging, slogging until I got to the end of the scene I was writing and I noticed I’d made it to the finish line. The champagne was NOT flowing freely. I’d come up with a sort of okay ending and written it a few days earlier, but the road to the ending was and still is filled with gaping plot holes.

I’m going to keep on slogging forward, but I’ll tell you a secret:

I hated NaNo more days than I felt the love.

I felt chained to this process that brought out the very worst of my writing capabilities. I was so bent on coming up with plot points that I forgot to tell a story. I killed my most interesting characters. I used clunky and banal language. My only funny scene was a funeral, and that happened at the beginning of the book.

My family learned to tread softly when my word count was advancing too slowly for the calendar. I wondered what in hell ever made me think I could tell a story anyway, ’cause I sure wasn’t banging it out here.

Here’s another secret:

I already miss NaNo.

I miss the urgency that kept me glued to my chair and would. not. release. me. until I’d met my daily word quota. I miss competing (yes I do) with my writing buddies, and cheering them forward as well. I miss that single-minded focus and intensity on my writing, even my bad writing. I miss having a deadline that forced me to approach writing in a totally different way than I was comfortable with, and to crank out that many words that quickly, quality be damned.

I’m looking forward to putting Pelican Island to sleep for a while. And reading — I’ve already started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And blogging again. And a host of other things that went on hold during NaNo.

And then, sometime in January, I’ll pick up Pelican Island again. Who knows what I’ll find in it then. Or in myself.

11 comments to Crossing the 50K Line with NaNoWriMo

  • Yay for you meeting your goal! And I hope when you return to Pelican Island you’ll find it’s in better shape than you thought.

  • Congratulations! And I agree with Linda, when you pick it up in January, you will probably find more good things than not — like any first draft. Enjoy The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and a little breather. How funny that you’re so pleased it’s over and that you miss it already.

    • Natasha

      Thanks! I’m always surprised when I pick up a piece of my own writing some time after the blood, sweat and tears have dried. It’s usually somewhat different than I remembered it, sometimes better, sometimes worse, sometimes with a completely different message than I thought I’d written.

      So far, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a much better book than Pelican Island, though. 🙂

  • I hear you loud and clear. I longed to be finished with my novel but I’m like you, I miss the urgency that kept me on my toes or, more accurately, on my butt.

    Regarding NaNoWriMo, for all who participated, I’d venture to say, it was a love/hate relationship.

    I doubt I’d ever write an entire novel without the NaNo challenge relentlessly kicking me in the ass, day after day.

    Rereading and rewriting our novels will be another trip altogether. Although, I bet we’ll experience that love/hate thingy again.

    • Natasha

      I think you’re right that the love/hate relationship will re-emerge during the editing stage. But rewriting/editing is for me the real juicy part.

      I hope.

  • I’m also missing the ticking clock/daily word count pressure of NaNo. I took one pass at editing and deleted some parts that I knew were pretty awful and have now put it away until January. I hope when I pick it up I will be pleasantly suprised. I think it has potential. I sat and watched two movies last night! Haven’t done that in awhile! I’m betting you will be happy with Pelican Island
    when you pick it up again. Congrats to you!!

    • Natasha

      Good for you watching movies! I’ve read only short stories since November 1 — and now I’ve picked up a 650 page book!

      Your story definitely has promise – I like the pieces I’ve seen.

  • YAY!!! Glad you got through it. I’m not posting my word count until the last minute. I’m not finished with my novel and I don’t even know how close I am. With my other stories I knew exactly how I wanted to end them, with this one, I’m still not sure. I may have to put it away for a few days until I figure out a way to wrap it up.
    I have a feeling your going to like Pelican Island when the time comes to read it. I’m sorry I have to wait until January to read some of it.
    Congrats on another winning year!

  • Natasha

    Just don’t wait till the very last minute to post your word count. That minute when 200,000 people try to post simultaneously and the NaNo site crashes…. If you post now you can still keep adding to your word count afterwards.

  • Great job on finishing!! Woo hoo!! My glass is raised to you. 🙂

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