Tuesday, 28 November 2017

After NaNoWriMo - Did I rise to the challenge?

Well that’s it. I’ve DONE it and with two days to spare. And I have a certificate to prove it. Fifty thousand words.

It’s been…interesting. And it’s altered my perspective.  In the mists of time - about sixteen years ago - I began writing and immediately it became a compulsive activity which quickly evolved into an obsession and ended up becoming a career, though the obsession is still there. I’ve set myself targets and achieved them (I work better under pressure). What has become clear over the past month is that to some extent, though not entirely, I have previously arranged my writing around my 'other' life. For the past four weeks I have accommodated my life around my writing. One day, because of a pre-arranged fully booked day, I got up at four-thirty and by seven am I’d completed my target for the day. I know this isn’t unusual for some people but for me it’s unheard of. Prior to NaNoWriMo I would probably have left it and doubled up the next day but I couldn’t afford to do that this time. There was no way I wanted even to consider playing catch up. There are many people who habitually get up early and work before they leave home for the day job. I’ve always admired them but my admiration has increased immensely.

So what comes next? I have a complete story in fifty-seven thousand words – I started this book before the beginning of November. I haven’t read it through yet. There will be holes in the plot for sure. I can think of one or two already. Some parts will need to be expanded upon and others I suspect cut out completely. I’m quite apprehensive about this next part because it isn’t the way I usually work. My first edit always happens as I go along and it may not be comprehensive but it sets me on the right road. Have I deviated onto those narrow single track lanes with barely a passing place? Will I be able to find the route back to my goal, a well-crafted story that will satisfy my readers - and me? I hope so. I’m tempted to let it lie for a few days but I know myself well enough to be sure that tomorrow morning I’ll be opening the file and reading it through. I’m pretty certain that I’ll want to edit as I go along but I’m hoping to resist that temptation. I need to reacquaint myself with the whole story now before I do that.

This book is different from anything I’ve ever done before. What if it hasn’t worked? Will I have wasted my time? That would be a definite NO. Time is never wasted when trying to perfect one’s craft and it’s good to experiment occasionally. The longest and hardest part is yet to come. Whatever happens it won’t be a quick fix. I’m hoping that ultimately I will be left with a novel of which I can be proud. One thing is for sure though. I am incredibly proud to have taken on and completed this challenge. It’s amazing what you can achieve when you set your mind to it.

My footnote is by way of congratulation to everyone who has participated in NaNoWriMo 2017. Some will have finished and some will not, but all will have a substantial number of words and a part of or whole story that didn’t exist a month ago. And that is an achievement in itself.