When I started out on this, we’ll call it a journey, I was afraid of not finishing. After the curriculum change with the journalism department, I was taking a lot of multimedia classes with multimedia projects that would be eating up a lot of my time and brain energy. How on earth was I going to make it to 50,000 words in a month? Or two months? I spent September planning my characters and outlining, welcoming the brief and far-between moments of epiphany that gave me insight to how different things in the story would take place. Then October first came along and it was time to get started. I patted myself on the back for writing more than 800 words a day, thinking I was doing well. I was really high on myself on those nights when I would get more than 1,000 words written. The congratulations more or less stopped, however, when I realized the story was not going to be able to finish in only 50,000 words and if I wanted to finish the story by the end of November, 1,000 words a day would need to be my norm. When asked what my word goal would be when Cathy was making up the poster, I said my number goal was 70,000, thinking that would be plenty. The story could be finished in that 20,000-word window and I wouldn’t feel bad for not hitting the higher number if the requirement was still only 50,000. Wrong. The story was finally finished last night around 10 p.m. and included, according to the NaNoWriMo site, 79,320 words, with, after I fill in the blanks I left for myself when I couldn’t come up with a name or needed to look something up, more to come. There will be a lot of editing, too, as the big action of the story didn’t really happen until the eighth chapter or so. A lot of bits and pieces I loved will have to be cut and will be copy-pasted to another document and stored away for future use on some other project. But nothing will be lost, which makes writers feel a lot better after cutting up their brainchild.
One thing I liked was letting my characters surprise me. I know that sounds cliché, but it’s true. While most of the characters ended up where I wanted them, they took their own path on how to get there. My villain changed, I think for the better, and was suitably evil while still being sympathetic, something I learned from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Looking back, I plan to do more present tense descriptions like I found in The Silence of the Lambs and maybe split some of the longer chapters into two, which I think might move the action along quicker and easier. I had already done that with one chapter that was beginning to grow to ten or twelve pages, single-spaced, and I didn’t want any chapter to come even that close to the prologue (which sits now at eighteen pages, single-spaced).
I’m not going to say there was no stress involved in writing this monster, but I was pleasantly surprised at how little of it there was. If anything, forcing myself to take time out of my day to sit and write was a stress relief. I’ve been trying to get myself to do that for years, and it took a class assignment to get me to do it successfully. If I’ve learned nothing else from this class, that would have been enough.
So do I plan on NaNoWri2Mo-ing again? Definitely. Will I continue the 750 words a day plan? You betcha. Aside from the revising, I have two started novels that need to be written and you’ll probably hear more about those soon. But for now, I have a 600-word web story and sound slide presentation for News 221 to work on, at least two short non-fiction pieces and the revision of a longer essay to do for ENG 406, at least 20 pages (double-spaced) of revision for the aforementioned for ENG 407, editing an audio story and planning another for NEWS 132 to work on, so I need to get back to the work I’m actually getting credit for doing . . .