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literature & technology: maybe next year, NaNoWriMo

I know I said writing is all about finding time to write. I wrote that I would do this, despite all my other commitments for the month of November, as I can’t call myself a writer unless I make the effort to find the time to write. Well, okay – I won’t call myself a writer for the month of November, then. Well, for about two weeks of November. My NaNo novel is still languishing on 17,000 words and believe me, it still wants to be written. It’s crying out to me to finish it off, and asking how could I abandon it? Quite easily, actually. When your day is so busy you hardly have time to eat, there is little room, energy or inspiration to squeeze in writing. It then becomes a choice between sleep and writing. And, for November, I chose sleep. As much as I wanted to smash NaNoWriMo this year, in the end I had to accept that the timing was terrible, and I simply didn’t have any energy to devote to it.

That and I had so many characters that I got lost when I was writing and needed the time to sit down and carefully plan each character’s story arc. It was this realisation on top of everything else that made me see that I wouldn’t complete NaNoWriMo this year. I couldn’t afford to spend the time working out the story arcs, and without the story arcs I felt I’d be letting down my novel. Even though it was draft zero, I wanted draft zero to at least have coherent sentences which made sense, and not gibberish which wouldn’t translate to anything later on.

I’ve been trying to figure out if this means I failed. Did I fail if I didn’t reach the goal of 50,000 words? 17,000 words is still 17,000 words more than I had on October 30th. 17,000 words I probably wouldn’t have if I hadn’t decided to take part in NaNoWriMo. So maybe ‘fail’ is too strong a word. On the other hand, my goal this year was to make the 50,000 words. I really wanted to get there. I wanted it so much, but I guess this is just one of those things. Life threw a different challenge at me for the month of November, one which I needed to succeed at. In light of that, NaNoWriMo became an Everest for another year. That’s my silver lining: there is always next year. Next year might be the year of NaNoWriMo for me. Sure, there are people who casually surpass this challenge every year, but I’m still working towards it. And that’s okay. It’s not like I was sitting around the house doing nothing all month, and I simply gave up on NaNoWriMo in favour of watching all nine seasons of Scrubs back-to-back or reliving my childhood and enlisting in a Sims marathon.

This year, I’ll take my 17,000 words and see what I can turn it into. Those words won’t be wasted, and a huge congratulations to all my fellow NaNoWriMo writers, those who made the target and those who didn’t. For those who didn’t, we all know the hardest part is starting, and now you’ve done that you have no excuses not to continue. For those who did, be proud of your achievement! 50,000 words in a month is a huge ask, and it takes persistence and commitment, and a willingness to write into the unknown and let your characters take you were they will. Take the time to celebrate and feel proud of yourselves before you gingerly open the Word document and begin the hard slog of editing the damn manuscript into shape. I’ll be there to celebrate with you all next year.

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