As I set up my account on the NaNoWriMo site, the enormity of my task hit. What was I thinking? How, on earth, was I going to achieve fifty thousand words in just one month? Was I deluding myself? My alter ego answered – Don’t sabotage yourself even before you start – see how it goes.
When I passed the five thousand mark, I felt an incredible sense of accomplishment – it was the most I had ever written – a milestone for me. As I became infatuated with this project, I could be found typing furiously all over the place, at my son’s soccer practice and games, at my daughter’s gymnastics or reptile meetings. I became oblivious to the strange looks I received, too focused on transcribing the words that popped into my head.
As I reached fifteen thousand words, the story seemed to find a mind of its own as though I was the vessel it was channeling through. I had no idea where the story was going – I hoped it would read well once finished. My obsession became clear when I was squeezing in a couple of paragraphs between starting the evening meal and serving it and in my lunch break – it did make me rather anti social! As the days and weeks passed the story flowed and although I had no idea where it was heading or how it would end – it was really cool – an undiscovered journey inside my subconscious.
After spending three hours typing furiously; one evening; trying to break the twenty two thousand mark I eventually got there but disaster struck. I hit save and closed the lid, but wait what did I see? Going back into my document I saw the damn thing hadn’t done its automatic 3 minute save all night and the save button hadn’t worked! All my words gone forever, I felt physically sick. My husband tried all sorts of clever electronic tricks to try and get it back but to no avail. I had to start again. It was a real low point in my NaNo challenge, I can tell you.
Determined not to be beaten by technology, I pressed on and finished the following evening with 26592 words. At this point the story was flowing nicely and seemed to be taking over. I hadn’t planned a plot or truly understood where the tale would lead. To be honest it was much more fun, letting the characters take hold of the story.
I received an email invitation to meet fellow NaNo writers at a local restaurant. The opportunity to meet and ‘see’ other mad individuals was great. We had a quick bite to eat then from 5pm – 8pm it was almost constant writing – no kids, no husband, and no interruptions – absolute bliss. At the end of the evening I had managed 1108 words taking my grand total up to 31,161. To have past the 30K mark made me very happy. With an evening at a friend’s house planned, the following day, I knew I could get another ‘chunk’ done.
The story seemed to be flowing directly from my main character and he surprised me all the time – it was so cool. Having the time limit had focused me and I was enjoying it – no really I was!. With only six days left I had 41287 words at 7.15pm. I could see I would have to really push myself to reach the target – working around household and family commitments and all that jazz wasn’t helping. My characters input was also slowing down, at that point, which meant panic was creeping in. This resulted in ‘blank page’ syndrome at the 46001 word mark – my cure? I walked the dog in the dark – torch in hand – I came back chilled but with a refreshed brain and the next chapter came to me.
Success came at 10.44pm with a 50,323 word count the night before the deadline. The story had a cliff hanger ending – let my readers make up their own conclusion. I read through the whole thing the following morning before submitting it. Printing off my winner’s certificate felt so good. It has pride of place hung beside my writing desk.