At 11:57 p.m. on November 30th, I wrote the final sentence with hurried keystrokes and submitted my word count for verification. Loading, the browser replied. Loading. Loading. Loading. I began to sweat at this point. And then, YOU WIN! That’s right, I crested 50,000 words in the final moments, thereby becoming a “winner” of National Novel Writing Month.
It was an incredible journey. Never before have I set such a lofty writing goal. To reach 50K requires about 1,667 words per day. No days off. No falling behind. As you might guess, the quality of the writing might not be what it needs to be, but you can’t argue with the volume. The pace is relentless. The looming deadline and ever-constant threat of failure had me pushing on, like two boys on horseback fleeing a terrible scaly creature.
Two Kinds of Fantasy Stories
It’s often joked that there are only two kinds of fantasy stories:
- Someone goes on a journey
- A stranger comes to town
Of course, type #1 is often my favorite, because in nearly every such story or book that I can recall, the protagonist never goes alone. Just as hobbits have other hobbits, I had other writers, and we set out together on the quest to 50K. Over a thousand writers in St. Louis participated in NaNoWriMo, and the region as a whole generated 9.9 million words in 30 days.
Like most journeys in most great stories, some of those who came with us were lost along the way. November, like any other month, contains a host of dangerous threats to writing productivity – the demands of work, an amazing schedule of new television shows, and a national holiday laced with tryptophan. These or other beasts claimed victims along the terrible, bumpy road to 50K. Go on without me, they cried.
Selfishly, perhaps foolishly, I did. And now I’m a novelist, at least by very vague definitions. I hope to finish and edit my novel in the next couple of months. I can’t wait for the next one!
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