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.
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.