I lost NaNoWriMo. I am a failure. A disgrace. A loser.
And that’s okay.
At 46,663 words in 30 days, I have officially failed 2019’s National Novel Writing Month, but I’m not upset at that. In fact, I’m damn proud of myself for both pumping out that many words (though that pride is actually a little lackluster considering I’ve done more words in less time), and for being so damn chill about this loss. As I got close to 50k in those last couple days I got very excited about my upcoming potential win, but I was away from home visiting family for the last week of November, and I eventually realized I wasn’t quite going to make it. And I was at peace with that almost immediately.
It’s a bummer to lose with 3,337 words to go, especially when those words easily could have been written during those two days I let go by when I didn’t write at all or those two days that I only logged 300 words, but at the same time, coming so close really just means I actually did pretty damn well.
Overall, I logged more words on average during a sprint than I’ve written in the past, and I’ve been freer with the actual words. I’ve made a kind of peace with the idea that I’ll be cutting a lot and drastically changing even more, focusing instead on getting through the story. In an ideal world, I would have had a way better outline going into NaNo, but I changed my project at the last minute, so I had moments where I really struggled, but that just reinforced what I already know now: I need an outline to succeed. In lieu of a good outline with this project, I had to organically tell myself the story regardless of if I thought it was going in a good direction or not. In a way it was good: a couple things I don’t think I ever would have planned happened, specifically a very cute romance, but in another way it’s shit: there are some places where I wrote “and then somehow they end up there” that I’m not looking forward to revisiting on that first big edit.
But that’s the thing–this is a first draft. It should be sort of a mess and need a lot of work. If you think you have a publishable novel after 30 days, well, you must be either absolutely amazing or have incredibly rosy glasses on when it comes to your own work. That’s one of my problems with NaNo, the false sense of “you wrote a novel!” it instills in people. No, you didn’t write a novel in 30 days, you wrote a 50k word draft. It won’t be a novel until you’ve put in a LOT more time. Yes, you can get writing done quickly, and yes, you can improve your skills so that those quick words are of higher quality, but editing is crucial.
The plan now is to finish this draft. This project, Dragon Race (which is a terrible working title), will probably be about 80k words when complete and that will take the majority of December. Then it gets packed away for at least 6 weeks, purposely forgotten so I can hopefully surprise my future self and come at it with new and merciless eyes. During the downtime, The Korinniad is, going into a phase I haven’t been in with a book in a looooong time: a second edit! I plan to release her in the first quarter of 2020, hopefully followed by The Association (which I don’t know if I ever discussed here, but I wrote it over the summer). If all goes to plan, 2020 will be my year of content. I want to produce at least one book a quarter which is pretty intense considering my track record of, uh, zero, but, like, only place to go from here is up, right?
Because while I produced a lot in 2019, it’s all sitting pretty raw on this computer, so I need to stop thinking it’s all so precious, and it isn’t good enough, and somebody out there is going to think it’s trash, and just start putting this stuff out into the world. I want 2020 to be better in so many ways, but most of all creatively. I’ve been working on caring less about what everyone thinks, and just focusing on bringing joy to the people who are able to feel it. I’ve wanted to write for forever because I like making people happy. It’s entirely selfish, I like the way it feels when someone says they enjoyed my work, but I also like giving people stories to disappear into, or just to distract them from whatever they need distraction from. That’s what media has always been for me, and I want to give that back to others. I don’t need to write the next great American novel–I’m never going to–but I do need to make people happy. And this is how I’m going to do it. You’re going to read these books, and you’re going to smile, god damn it! Fucking smile, Dear Reader, SMILE!