This year, I took place in Nanowrimo, the month-long writing contest that doesn’t fail to turn November into an even more interesting month than usual. The objective is to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch (outlining and planning are allowed, however) in a month.
Early on this past Thursday afternoon (Thanksgiving) I
cashed in my chips verified my word count, because I started to get anxiety that if I didn’t do it right then I would either forget to do it over the weekend, or the file would get corrupted, or my laptop would die or any other unlikely – though possible (and unfortunately, some even repeatable from the past) – scenarios that would result in me not winning or, more importantly, losing the work that I have become so close and attached to over the last 20-something days. Yeah, I have come to regard the novel as something tangible, something I can get attached to. Weird…
So I verified it and was declared a winner. Now, the reason I hadn’t verified it sooner – and would have continued to delay, were it not for the previously mentioned anxiety – is that though I have crossed the 50,000 word threshold, it doesn’t feel complete.
Besides the obvious editing for both grammar and continuity issues, there is so much more description that I would like to get into that I feel I have barely scratched the surface of. Off the top of my head I can think of at least three scenes that I would have liked to include. Some are so specific, right down to what sign was on the wall, the expression of a character’s face, but I figured that to delve so deep into one scene when I had a whole plot to unfold would just – I don’t know – slow me down.
It’s hard to explain; on the one hand, I knew that I preferably wanted to write the 50,000 words, just to prove to myself I could, but on the other hand I wanted to make sure the story in my head was told. And deep down I realize that for the tale to truly be told, if I want to do my characters justice – not to mention my parallel universe – it would take at least double that many words (who am I kidding; probably even more than that.). The thing is, I’m not willing to make that commitment, at least at the moment. I have too many other interests and/or responsibilities. And it’s not just that; I can’t focus on just one project, I just get bored or something like that that is so hard to articulate.
It’s not the writing itself either. I celebrated when I first hit 50,000 words by taking a break from the novel and …writing, and it felt so incredibly good to be writing about something because wanted to, not had to. I even came up with numerous ideas for short stories and novels. I love writing, I was just so over dedicating all of my writing time and effort to that novel.
Perhaps I lack maturity; perhaps I’m commitment-phobic. I still would like to see the novel completed. But since I technically verified the word count and won’t I feel like I have no deadline. So I may just procrastinate as I tend to do. That’s the reason I decided to even enter in the first place; with a deadline I thought surely I would complete the novel. And I did, a very bare-bones at times and detailed at others version of it.
When I first started writing the novel, I did so in a goal-oriented frenzy (some days writing 6 or 7,000 words) that can only mean one thing: there will be a burnout period. And yes,predictably, the day after I hit 50,000 I did not write a single word for the novel for several days. I even started to fear that I would not return to it ever and I don’t know what made me return to it at all: the desire to bring my story to life or the fear that it was either now or never. At the same time, I’ve grown to care about what happens to my characters, and the world I’ve created. Such an odd last few weeks…
When I had a clear defined goal, it was easier to just make myself get it done. Afterwards, I just felt overwhelmed. It’s like there’s so much potential but I just can’t make myself focus and channel all my energy in only one direction. And deep down, I worry that I may prefer unfinished projects; after all, every story I have ever created has not had an ending, just an endless combination of convoluted plot lines and complex characters.
My novel doesn’t even have a freaking title! That’s how indecisive (or whatever word is more appropriate) I am.
Ragardless, though, I won! That’s so cool. I do feel like I accomplished something, though not necessarily all I had set out to do. Unfortunately, I can tend towards an overachieving perfectionism at times, which causes me more frustration than anything else. Still working on it…