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This is the End

November 30, 2009

Calendar Number by Leo Reynolds Under Creative Commons License

Welcome to November 30th – the last day of the month and the final day of NaNo. As this column goes live I will be travelling back from a day trip to Byron Bay.

So, how are you feeling about NaNo?

If your family were anything like mine when you were growing up, they hammered it into both my sister and myself, from an early age, it wasn’t about winning or losing, but how you played the game. As a kid is sounded like a lame trade off that kept you from getting too cocky about winning or too maudlin about losing. But there is something in it.

Losing can feel like a win, and winning can feel like an empty victory – it depends a lot on what happened between starting and finishing, as Paul so aptly pointed out yesterday.

For me getting 50,000 words this year wasn’t enough. I had several other goals in place. I intended to:

  1. finish my novel (this is a major goal for the year which got shafted into the November slot)
  2. establish a sustainable writing routine
  3. continue on with projects started before NaNo (Chinese Whisperings and Fourth Fiction)

While I validated 57,000 words Sunday morning, it really does feel for me a bit like a hollow win.

I didn’t get to finish my novel – in fact, to kick off Week Four I jettisoned 37,000 word (kept the word count though) after realising back on Day One I had taken the wrong path on the second half of my novel and around 15,000 words shy of an “ending” my two main characters, whose relationship was intended to “drive” the novel were still not together.

So sitting here on the final morning of November, I have 45,000 words dedicated to my novel, only about 10,000 of which are any good. It is a big fat thumbs down on finishing my novel. I wish now (because we have such 20/20 vision in hindsight) I had have chosen one of the four other fresh ideas I had kicking around for this month. But I have learnt an important lesson. If you haven’t finished in November, keep chipping away if you still love your story – it is REALLY HARD to pick up where you felt off a year on.

The sustainable writing routine was a bullet from the gate. Week One I was up at 5:00am, getting my morning pages written and then sitting down to write my 2000 words for the day. There was no internet until I met my word count for the day, I tried to keep away from sugar, did activities which encouraged creative thinking.

Two things then happened. My son decided 6:00am was a good time to get up and I started losing the quiet time I was meant to have getting up early. Thus, less and less incentive to get up early. Then we all got sick. After a week of gastro and recovering from it, getting the momentum up and running was tough.

While certain elements of this goal get a thumbs down, it was a good experience to test alternate “writing waters”. I’m not sure if there will ever be a “right” writing routine – though I’m excited by the fact my five year old son will be at school next year and I will have a whole new dimension of time available to explore. Additionally I discovered leaving the house on a weekend to write with others was incredibly productive activity and one I hope to follow up on in the coming months. The Write Ins are certainly the highlight of November for me.

This November I couldn’t clear the decks like I had in other years and I was feeling rather nervous about how I could keep up with so many things. In amongst it all – I did keep on top of Chinese Whisperings, though the deadline for publication has been knocked back to the 1st January because of matters which were out of our hands. I kept up with the Fourth Fiction prompts (though I am unsure if I will actually “finish” my novella by December 4th as the contest dictates). Because I just can’t say no to a brilliant idea, early in November I opted into another writing project 12 Stories in 12 Days and decided to write an epic 6000 word short story last week. I think, in reflection there is something to be said for putting as many things on hold during November so your focus and concentration isn’t divided up.

While it is a fail on many fronts this year for me, it is also a win. Regardless, I will be enjoying my bottle of pink bubbles tonight, when we get home from out road trip. I will also be framing my certificate this year and putting it up on the wall. This month I have written more than I have in any other month to date. Some of it is bad, some lukewarm and some I love to bits and am really proud of. All of it, somehow, found a time and a space to come to life.

To me, this more than anything, smacks of ‘this is the writing life’.

What were the highlights and lowlights of November this year? Feel free to whinge, bitch, moan, or trumpet your delights to the heavens.

Jodi Cleghorn met with some local businessmen recently and one mentioned “the curse of the competent” – how you always give jobs to people who are busy because they will get it down. Jodi’s now looking forward to the end of December, some down time and seeing if there is a curse of the lazy? Keep up to date at Writing in Black and White.
  1. November 30, 2009 8:03 am

    I’m drained and feel hollow.Last years ‘win’ was celebrated with laughter and a drink – this years was a desperate time dependant exercise on a subject area I grew to despise and wanted to bring in the traveling shovel of death so many times…… I think I might just have to in my own personal copy of my work.
    lessons learnt
    – writing non fiction for NaNo sucks big time.
    – inhuman effort to get 50K in in 20 days near destroyed the fragile harmony in our house. It will not be repeated – or there will be the sounds of many feet leaving.
    – writing for 48 hours straight doesn’t produce worthy text… you start to dribble..
    – you have to love love love your subject area
    – you need 30 days …..

    I’ve not written for a week now – bar a scant few emails in the last day…..I need some fairy floss for the brain……perhaps the sweet Captain will visit my dreams tonight and I’ll return invigorated with lusty tales…..

  2. November 30, 2009 4:15 pm

    I was really nervous about NaNoWriMo. I didn’t think I could write 1,667 words a day. I didn’t think I’d have enough to say. But I discovered that I could get up at 4:15 a.m. and (with a big mug of coffee) could jump-start that imagination. I’m proud of my 99 pages!

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