Thursday, December 1, 2011

November off?

So some of you may have noticed that I had a hiatus for the month of November. I apologize for the absence, and feel I owe you all an explanation.

In case you haven't heard of it, The Offices of Letters and Light holds National Novel Writer's Month (NaNoWriMo) in the month of November. For "thirty days of literary abandon", they ask their participants to embark on a literary journey, writing 1667 words per day, each day of the month. By the end of the month, WriMo's are winners when they complete 50,000 words. To give you an idea of how many words that is, the entry up to the end of this sentence will have contained 119 words.

Fifty Thousand is a lot of words!!!

As many who read this might know, I do not consider writing to be one of the arts at which I excel. I don't really love anything I write, but I have always loved reading. So, for the last four years, I started NaNo with every intention of putting the fifty-thousand to paper and patting myself on the back. And the last four years, I failed. And in many cases, bailed on the project only a few days and a few thousand words in. Last year I even tried to start with a project I had already planned on starting for a different project and still didn't keep up. It really just reinforced my belief that I was not meant to and would never be able to write.

And for those who do not know me terribly well, I do not do things at which I don't succeed. I don't often put myself in the position to try something and fail marvelously at it unless it is a new art style that I am fairly certain I could give a fairly decent go at it. I don't enjoy trying new things or putting myself in positions where I might embarrass myself.

While I've been recently told I'm the kind of girl that sets her mind to something and accomplishes that goal, I hate to admit that it's a great illusion I like to propagate. See, it's hard to fail at something you go into pretty certain you're going to be able to do with a bare amount of effort. And while I love feeling accomplished at finishing a project, I don't often go far out of my comfort zone to try something I think I might downright fail at. Or, as far as I was concerned about NaNo, was certain to fail.

So, when I set down with day one's determination and no story, I really had no vague dreams that I would succeed. I wasn't going to talk about it too much, because it would draw attention to the fact that I would likely not complete the task. But as day one introduced my first character, it led to day two. And day two led to tandem writing with the hubby. And I started to really get invested in the characters.

But I felt the distractions coming. Until I found a twitter group called @NaNoWordSprints. Sprinting encouraged me to just write, no edits, no delete key for a set amount of time. And come to find out, I am terrible about self-editing. Every other time before this, I failed due to my inner critic. And with these sprints and having a group of peers there to share my journey, I was actually starting to think that I might have a chance at winning this year.

But as with things like this, losing one day puts you behind, and then you start dragging. Thousands of words behind start making you think that the gap to finishing is impossible to cross. And I had reached that point. I had determined that over the Thanksgiving holiday, I'd take my laptop and sprint my little heart out to get past the hump. But in my rush to get to the airport, I left my laptop at home.

That was ender. I would never be able to catch up. I was less than a week away from December first and was twenty-seven thousand words into a fifty-thousand words novella.

No chance I'd be able to catch up

I have no idea why I picked up my laptop Sunday the twenty-seventh. Maybe it was that I wanted to see where my story was going to end up. Maybe I just wanted to see how far I could get before I finally just gave up. But I wrote three thousand words Sunday. Almost twice as many words as I had written on my longest 4 hour night. And Monday, I wrote five thousand. Tuesday, I wrote ten thousand words. Let me write that again...from 10:30 am to 12:30 am Wednesday. I wrote TEN THOUSAND WORDS.

I woke up the last day of November, five thousand words away from winning NaNoWriMo. I was delirious, but insanely close.

I did two #1kin30mins (or for sane people, one thousand words in thirty minutes) and by two thirty November 30th, I surpassed the fifty thousand and I WON NaNoWriMo!!!

Me, the girl who SUCKS at writing. That HATES failure. I not only succeeded when I was tremendously behind and certain I couldn't do it, but I had a story I liked and characters that I thought were compelling. And HOLY CRAP DID I SAY I FINISHED NANO?

When I finished, I was literally exhausted and shaky. But it was such an amazing feeling, an elation that I hadn't felt with something so out of my comfort zone. My brain felt like tapioca and I was sleep deprived, but I felt so proud of myself. Since I'm not afraid of being a bit of a cliche, I am comfortable saying I really did learn a lot about myself this past month. And that is, that I really AM the girl that can succeed if I have faith in myself and what I can do. That even in the face of depression, the fear of failure and personal tragedy, that I CAN freaking kick some @$$ and push myself to do something that I can really be proud of.

So, at the end of this blog, I want to sum it up by saying that I really do believe if you motivate yourself and believe in yourself, you can really make your own miracles happen. Even if it's not something you want to show to the world, show yourself you are worth stopping and investing in!

Now, everyone.....go and make your miracles!!! Do it now!!!!

(Oh yeah, this massive blog entry...only 1,090 words...around 500 words less than one day of NaNo writing. Eat THAT perspective!)


  1. Congratulations! I so happy you won, and I can't wait to read some of your stuff!

  2. Thanks hun! It's far from finished and in need of heavy editing, but I'm still pretty proud of it!

  3. Congrats! I'm so glad you won! I failed miserably. :)

  4. Traci,
    May I offer my heartfelt admiration for your accomplishment! I know how hard it is to turn out words as I fail on a regular basis at writing. Your friends have noticed your absence and hope to see more of you over the holiday season. Are you and Joe coming to Shawn's Wassail party tonight?