Monday, 10 December 2007

NZ Book Month: Blog 3

Five, zero, zero, eight, seven.

Fifty thousand and eighty seven.

50087 – no matter how you say it, it feels pretty damn good; from writing nine words on the 1st, till the 30th when I wrote a grand total of 8285 words on the day. In fact, after the 1st of November I didn't write anything more until the 13th – the day of my last exam, so I've actually written 50000 words in only 18 days; that’s easily a new record for me.

I was bouncing off the walls after I finished writing; I couldn’t believe I had actually done it. I think the turning point came for me when one evening when I was talking with a friend who was also doing NaNoWriMo, and we decided to have a ‘word war’ – we set the clock for twenty minutes and wrote furiously to see who would write the most words. And at the end of those twenty minutes, spelling and punctuation flung to the winds, I clocked in with a grand total of 1220 words, over a word a second. Usually, I thought, I could average about a thousand words an hour; finding how fast I can actually write when I set my mind to it, I start giving myself lots of little 10- and 15-minute word races, and then ten or twenty minute rest breaks in between.

At the end of 23 November, with one week to go, I had written 10156 words; in my last week I wrote almost forty thousand words, getting up and doing 500 words before going to work, coming home during lunch a couple of times to write another few hundred, and setting myself goals each day. Finishing was a fantastic feeling; I was – and am – so proud of myself.

The meet-ups were great; it’s always cool to meet new people with similar interests as my own, and as usual our group this year was fantastic. We actually all got on so well that we’ve agreed to keep meeting up once every month or so, just to keep in touch and see how things are going. One of our writers, Jonathan, got to 50000 but didn’t finish his novel; so he’s still going in December. He’s already up to 60000, and is aiming for 80000 by the end of the month.

Speaking of finishing the novels, I completed three new landmarks for myself this year. The first I’ve already mentioned, writing 50000 words in 18 days. The second – and one I’ve never achieved before – is that this year, I actually finished my novel. I have never completed a NaNoWriMo novel before, and I’m so proud I did. And during December I’ve already started editing a previous novel, to see if I can get it completed and maybe even ready to be submitted to a publisher one day.

And my third task this November was to write a non-fantasy novel; every year, so far, I’ve based my novel in a fantasy world. I find it a lot easier; you can make up rules, insert magic and mythical creatures, and so on. This year, I decided to write it about the real world. No magic, no myths; just real life, and what goes on around us in the lives of several made-up characters in small-town New Zealand.

It was hard; I needed to draw a lot more on my own and others’ experiences, and my plot needed to be more solid since I didn’t want any murders or romances in my novel; just a story about real life and the struggles people go through. To my astonishment, I achieved it this year, and it came together well at the end.

I think, every year, you need to set yourself a new goal. Last year I didn’t feel as great at the end; I hadn’t really completed any new goals. This year, I achieved three new accomplishments, and I’m so proud and happy with myself. I can’t believe I did it so quickly; and I can’t believe I completed my novel. And you know what? At our final official NaNoWriMo meet-up, on 1 December, so many of us were sitting there tossing around new ideas for our next novel; and all of us, I think, will be back next year, ready to try again.

I’m so happy. And I can’t wait for next November.