So, as I’m sure the discerning reader has noticed, I crossed the finish line of #NaNo late Sunday night…. whew! Confirmed the win on the website, and had a twitter and facebook happy dance followed by a real happy dance all over my kitchen. Then I went to sleep, exhausted. Followed by yesterday catching up on all the things I didn’t do while I was writing 5k a day. Turns out that list gets longer the longer you ignore it. Who knew?
So today I actually get to reflect on the victory. The pain. The joy. The agony, despair, hope and happy dance. Because today I’m standing on the top of the mountain… realizing the mountain has another, taller brother. Mount Finish This Dang Novel. A close cousin to Have You Revised the Sucker Yet? What can I say, my personal mountain range of goals is more like the Rockies than St. Helen. But.
Writing 50,000 words in a month was surprisingly do-able. My life didn’t stop… well, not for more than a few days at a time. My fingers didn’t fall off from rapid typing… although my joints ached a couple of days in the beginning. (Yes, yes, I know. Youngest old person EVER. But they totally did.) My keyboard didn’t self-destruct. My word processor happily accepted the thousands of additional words I threw at it. Without any indigestion, even. All in all, the system worked. And nicely. My husband’s already suggesting a National May Novel Writing Month. NaMay?
In reflection, I’m thinking this whole grand crazy scheme is brilliant. Take all the angst of first draft nastiness and compress it into as fine a timeline as possible. (With the understanding that Mount Finish the Dang Novel is still on the horizon; more on that later.) Then, you can jump into revision all the sooner! Or later. Or both. Lord knows there was a lot of crap in the NaNo words. Shockingly, though, towards the end I was getting a lot of really awesome scenes. Scenes needing polish, yes. But a great deal of stuff I won’t have to throw out – stuff that made me smile just writing it. Made me wonder what would happen next, despite the lovely outline sitting next to me. Scenes I never would have gotten without the crazy pressure of an artificial deadline.
I love deadlines. Not in the Douglas Adams “whooshing by” sense, but for the awesome focus they provide. You never think clearer than you do under a deadline. You never write faster, panic harder, come up with more crazy/brilliant ideas than you do under the influence of a nice strong deadline. Unfortunately, they do tend to limit your thinking. Perhaps I should have gone for 70,000 words, or a hundred. We’ll never know if I could have made it.
And there’s the brilliant part. By stretching myself to do something crazy, I realized it wasn’t so crazy after all. That the pace I thought was impossible was, in fact, very much possible. Fun even. And that two novels a year now seems very much do-able. At least, assuming the revision for this sucker isn’t crazy nuts.
Because I know, that despite all the trash I’ll have to throw out, the core of what I’ve written is really cool. I’m going to finish this one with pride and shine it up. There’s nothing better than setting yourself a hard goal… and reaching it. Well.
What hard goals can I set myself next? 🙂