Thursday, November 17, 2011

NaNoWriMo Day 17: The final stretch--or not

As of today, I have 46,001 words of my novel written.  This means that I only have 4,000 words to go to complete NaNoWriMo and I will have a novel!  Or not. 

In fact, I find that I am only now really getting into the story and I have quite a bit of rewriting to do, so hitting the 50,000th word just means that the real work will begin.

Still, this isn't a complaint.  I was so worried about making it through NaNoWriMo this year, what with all the chaos that's been going on with the renovations and with the normal, everyday challenges of my husband's job and life with two young kids.  I thought I was crazy for even contemplating participating this year and, in fact, I've had several days where I wondered why I've been inflicting this stress on myself.  There are two reasons for this:

1. I really like the concept for my novel, and I want to submit it for the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest (ABNA for short, if you've never heard of it).  I've entered the last two years, but both times in the adult category and, since I'm still unpublished, it probably goes without saying that I didn't win.  But, while I'd certainly love to win or attract the interest of an agent or publisher, I'm still really proud of myself for entering as it means I'm taking those first tentative steps toward actually trying to get myself published.  To be honest, as much as I love my other manuscript, I feel like the one I'm currently writing will be much more competitive, and I think the young adult category may be a better fit for me.

2. This is the real reason: because NaNoWriMo proves to me that I can do this.  I can write a novel, no matter what kind of craziness is happening in my life.  I've always been a writer, ever since I was a child, but I've somehow always had this thought in the back of my head that I can't do it.  I have a bazillion reasons why: conditions aren't right, I don't feel inspired, etc., etc., etc.  But I've come to realize that these aren't reasons, they're excuses.  NaNoWriMo does not allow for excuses.  NaNoWriMo provides me with that extra nudge I need to make me feel I simply have to finish my project.  For me, NaNoWriMo is about chances, about proving to all those little voices of doubt inside that they are, in fact, wrong.

I recently read this really offensive article on The Economist.  It more or less states that NaNoWriMo is a waste of time and that the world doesn't need more bad novels--as if every novel that's published is good or, conversely, as if every novel that isn't published is bad.  Well, The Economist, I will take a Shakespearean tack: I bite my thumb at you!

I'm not suggesting that everyone is capable of writing a masterpiece--I'm nowhere near being convinced that I'm capable of this.  Nor am I suggesting that everyone quit their day jobs so they can sit home and write a novel.  We do need to be practical.  What I am saying, though, is this: we always encourage our children to follow their dreams.  Why, then, are we so willing to give up on our own?  Maybe I'll never get published, but at least I'll know I tried.  I don't want to be one of those people who lives a life full of "what ifs".

And further, to suggest that participants in NaNoWriMo are just fooling around is offensive.  I bleed for my novel, just like every other author I've ever known or read about.  I care passionately about what I write.  I agonized over this manuscript long before NaNoWriMo began, and I will agonize over it long after NaNoWriMo is finished.

So to my fellow WriMos: I salute you!  Maybe you're surrounded by people who are supportive and helpful and believe in you.  Maybe you're surrounded by doubters who think you're crazy for even trying.  Either way, I am with you.  I may not know you and you may not know me, but we understand one another's passion.  Go right ahead and reach for the stars--I'll be doing the same alongside you.  Let's shine on together, fellow crazy NaNoWriMo diamonds!  May we all someday look back and laugh at that article, as we enjoy the phenomenal success of our books that were originally NaNoWriMo novels.

***


“Dara, the next four weeks are going to be critical,” Joshua said, his voice urgent.  “We have to do everything in our power to help your mother.”

            “Oh, I wish we worked opposite shifts,” Dara moaned.

            “I know, but there’s nothing we can do about that now.  We’re just going to have to make do.”

            “We’ll take turns each night.  I’ll sleep one night, you sleep the next,” Dara suggested.

            Joshua looked relieved as he nodded.  “Yes, that was my idea as well.”

            “Let’s take turns going to the medical bay too.  There’s a lot that needs to be done around here to get things ready.”

            “I don’t know what I’d do without you,” her father said quietly, taking her right hand and pressing it between both of his.

            “We’re a family,” Dara said, a lump rising in her throat.  

            “Nothing and no one can change that,” her father said, a ferocious note to his voice.