I hit my fifty-thousand-word count for NaNoWriMo 2018 at 4 AM on December first, but I don’t count the date change until after I go to sleep. So I’m counting it as a win. The final day was a grind of nearly seven-thousand words, and I’m convinced that the last chapter became a hallucinatory version of the closing credits wrap up to the story. I’m not trying to look at it any time soon—letting myself think that I’m a competent writer.
I wanted to unpack a few things that I learned about myself as a writer during the month. With all but a few exceptions around the holidays and some busy weekends, I wrote every day. Working for about an hour and a half each day let me handily hit my word quota, and I made sure to keep moving on the story. I would only double back if I hit the natural chapter break during the session and needed to go back and fill in scenes to hit the quota.
I structured the novel so that each chapter was roughly the seventeen hundred word quota. That gave the story a specific shape, and I could feel when I would get bogged down in the details. It also meant that occasionally filler would creep in and I would end up filling in half a chapter that would come in as an info dump, a polemic, or a long internal monologue about loneliness. I could spot Warren Ellis, Cory Doctorow, and Jack Kerouac creeping in those instances but kept moving. I’ll excise them out when I go back to give an edit. Occasionally, the chapters would climb over the count, getting closer to the two-thousand-word mark. (That helped make up for the missed days.)
I started the month with an outline and an idea of what I though the story should say. I managed to stick to the major beats of the outline, but what the book actually was about didn’t come together until I was ten-thousand words into the draft. Not fighting that new direction let me chase the story on its terms. It made me want to sit down and write every day; I wanted to find where the story was going.
I really did miss fiction. It was satisfying getting in and making up a story and trying to figure out who the characters were. Considering that I have resigned my professional writing career to the dustbin, I don’t have a lot of aspirations at this point to do anything. Like my exercise of shouting in the void here, I wanted to write a novel to write it. That isn’t feigned modesty, just learned pragmatism.
I am sorry that the daily updates fell off here, but I was dedicated to not falling off. I also checked out of the news; I reduced my reading to scouring headlines a couple of times a day. It made me realize that I want to spend less time curating and commenting on current events here, though I don’t know that the looks like long term.
I ordered a poster to put up at work to celebrate my win, and then moving on. I may come back to the novel I wrote last month, but it’ll be awhile. I have a game review and a couple of book reviews that I need to finish up. Polishing up my writing style for those and other writing on the blog is going to be my focus for the next few months. I am going to weave in some other stuff beyond a media diary, but that isn’t sketched out yet. The learning diaries aren’t dead either, and I have a post to talk about where they’ve gone.
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