05 December 2012

[writing] NaNoWriMo: The Two-Time Winner

2893.It is my pride and joy to say that I've won NaNoWriMo 2012, making me someone who's won every year I've entered.

I first entered in 2011.

So, you see, I sometimes do not have a handle on my own PR. Because if I really wanted to impress you, I'd have left that part out.

Anyway, in case you happen by the blog and don't know the stardard of National Novel Writing Month, which at one time I rather lampooned, it's to either complete a novel of at least 50,000 words, or complete at least 50,000 words of a novel that's going to be longer than that … one way or the other, get 50,000 words down … by November 30th. The contest starts November 1st. That means you have to averages 1,667 words per day, one way or the other.

Having done this, I am entitled to let my lit flag fly, which, this year, looks like this:

Because I did. And I can be truthful about that, because I verified the novel's word count using their handy-dandy interocitor-based word counter, which is about 200 or 300 words ahead of my live in-editor word counter.

As last year, I came with the barest sketch of an idea. It's encouraging, to me, that I can finally have ideas. I'm coming out of a time which was creatively barren to me. It's affected everything I've done artistically, and took my own job search into the grave. I don't know if I can get that resurrected, but if I do, as guys at a certain point in their lives find themselves, it will probably be in some non-standard way. But now I'm losing the thread … the point is, and it took me 2 NaNos to figure, I'm still capable of having ideas.

And that's a great gift.

There's a great and fun culture that's grown among the NaNoWriMo tribe. Some of us call us NaNos, most of us call us WriMos, and if you're lucky enough to have a schedule that allows it, you can go to these adorable meetings. pound out words with a bunch of like-affected people and maybe be a winner that way too.

My schedule precludes a bunch of that, and I lack a laptop. While the schedule has no way of changing any time soon. Am considering some FreeGeekery for that laptop, though. Just something modest running Linux and OpenOffice is all we need here.

Here, then is my trajectory during the event:

… and this impressed a few. That slanting gray line there is the relentless pursuit of the goal; 50,000 words spread out over 30 days. 1,667 words/day, as I said. Now, the first day, I figured I'd break it open and get some words on the ground, and got it just above the daily averages but then left off on it for two large distractions, one being OryCon 34 and the other being the Presidential elections (something I've been addicted to, the spectacle thereof, near enough my entire life).

While I continued to produce, I did so at a rate that seemed to suggest I had no prospect of completing before November 30th. But I plugged, aided and abetted by a The Wife™ who, I'm sure, put off things we should have done so that I could write.

Coming into the home stretch, I was still below 30K, then did that 'reaching deep down inside' thing that you sometimes have to do, and closed the over 10,000-word gap in a mere 3 days.

And the ms itself? It's pretty lame, actually. Since I come up to NaNo with nothing but an idea to start off with, it happens in a haphazard way. A nemesis for my main character didn't happen as I'd thought … he proved a spur but not a huge villain, but the arc of the story followed more or less the trajectory I'd figured for it. There was a twist, a surprise at the end that made everything as it looked but not as it seemed at first … I did take some care to make it credible at least to myself.

What I have here, as I had with last year's, is a plowing of the ground, a placing of markers and laying out of rows to grow better things out of. For me, NaNoWriMo is an endurance test, a working of the soil so I can come up with better things later, should I choose to chase this crazy thing. I think what I have are two good ideas for larger stories, or broken down could (and probably ought to) become even better shorts (Raymond Carver and Chekhov and Harlan Ellison taught me something about taking short incidents and making them into stories).

I, in short, love NaNoWriMo. I was supposed to be some sort of artist, either with words or images, and my incessant diarizing certainly keeps the literature flowing from some sort of pen. And, if the 'novels' I cranked out so far are crap, I am reminded that manure makes the best fertilizer, and I have taken all that time to plow up the ground there.

See you in 2013, NaNo.

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