Saturday, December 1, 2007

50,286

So. Yesterday afternoon at 4:38, I completed the project called "write a 50,000 word novel(la) in November." See www.nanowrimo.org. I have a few things to say about this.

I set out to accomplish this odd feat because Meg sent me the link and I got really excited when I read about it and it had been forever since I got really excited about anything. If you write every day for 30 days, it takes 1667 per day to make it to 50,000. That's not that much. So because I was willing to have it be Just a Draft, and therefore not my finest work, by the end of the month, it seemed at the outset like a manageable project. Except, of course, for the fact that like most everyone I know, life seems crammed beyond capacity with Things I'm Supposed to be Doing that I'm Already Not Doing. Please don't ask me how I decided which things to capitalize. Some of the things in that category:

calling people back
drumming up more business
dishes

But I decided to try it anyway, at the risk of further alienating people I love who are still waiting to hear from me and staying mostly broke for at least a bit longer and eating toast off the cutting board. I needed to remind myself that I could accomplish things I wasn't sure I could.

And it was going really well, for the first 15 days of the month. I had to double up the day after Gram's funeral, and then the next weekend after a visit to Mom, but mostly I stayed with 1667 per day. Until we left for Thanksgiving. When we returned from the 9 day trip, I was virtually 8 days behind. I never stopped completely, but I was focused on being a good extra family member, and that really took up most of me.

We got home on Monday, November 26th, and the outlook was bleak. I figured out that it was going to take 4300 words a day to make it to 50,000. Visions of extensions danced in my head. No one would give me a hard time for needing the weekend. After all, there was a travel disruption of major proportions! For most of the week, as I plugged away alongside getting caught up on the rest of life, I knew that I would get close, but not there. When I went to bed on Thursday night, I was at 42712. With much else to do on Friday.

But I knew there was something important about finishing on time. I've been finding lots of excuses for myself, for many months. This weekend marks 6 months I haven't been dancing, thanks to whatever irksome thing is going on with my spine, and it's been a discouraging stretch. So I got up on Friday morning, wrote the next 1800 words, went to work, wrote another 900 between kiddos, and then when the last one had left sat down and wrote the last however many thousand. It took a very long time. I was hungry, and tired, and stiff and sore and it got dark too early and I wanted to go home and watch TV instead. Kind of like how it seems doing everything lately. All the more reason to get the thing done. I needed to know I could do it anyway.

So I did. 50,286 words. With a beginning and an end, which Meg pointed out means there's also probably a middle. The best part was what it said in the letter from the website congratulating me on my "win." (You just have to finish to win.) I paraphrase: If you can write a not-terrible novel in a month, what else can you do [that you want to do] that you're not doing?

Indeed. So. Thanks to anyone who's still my friend, or said "that's cool" rather than something sarcastic or negative when I told them what I was doing, or otherwise loves me or cheered me on. And please think about what you're not doing that you want to do and just might be able to, no matter what you think. If you need me to cheer you on, let me know.

5 comments:

megin said...

Well. Honestly. That made me cry. I so so so love that you finished. I can't say how huge that is. And I have visions of taping up your final question above my jumbled desk.

wow. just wow.

megin said...

oh, and it's now not november, btw.

Jonathan B. said...

Congrats, Mere! That's one hell of an accomplishment, especially since it was something you decided to do purely for yourself.

katie said...

i guess that wifey and I are on the same page because I just got teary reading this. I'm totally inspired (to do what, I'm not sure, but inspired nonetheless). You're amazing. thank you for taking that on...for what it provided for you and for all of us.

Martha said...

Congratulations! I can't say anything that hasn't already been said - thanks for inspiring.

And I think Mission Control should make an official category of "Things I'm Supposed to be Doing that I'm Already Not Doing."