NCWA’s Nona King, a NaNoWriMo winner, shares her perspective.
In the wake of NaNoWriMo 2011, over 50,000 words, more than 170 pages, and a sense of accomplishment paired with mental exhaustion. A good exhaustion. Well, a bittersweet one at the very least.
There were quite a few days I believed I could not cross this particular finish line, and I allowed myself to entertain the possibility of “failure”. But, the saving grace of determination and a refusal to admit defeat helped me push through the last 2300 words to cross the finish line a day early with 50,258 words. Most of it will need reworking, reorganizing, or very possibly not being used at all… but it gave me 50,000 words to work with and another sense of accomplishment.
Throughout the NaNo adventure there were epiphanies, feelings of loss, reminders of both what I love and hate about the writing process. Reminders, also, of the millions of fellow writers going through a similar joy and bittersweet agony. All for the love of words, story, and character definition.
Do you know what I find to be the most amazing and important aspect of NaNoWriMo? The dogged determination arising when we come face-to-face with a road block.
For many of us writers, those first few pages of a novel are the most challenging and the most agonizing. We must not only hook our readers, but we must introduce the conflict and the setting in such a way that does not insult our readers’ intelligence. No info dumps. No telling the way it is. Discovery, that is what must comprise those first pages.
Those are our doom, as well.
The first pages make or break a novel. If I don’t feel it is going well, that particular project is shuffled off to the dreaded back-burner until a much later date.
NaNoWriMo forces us to push through that blockade. If we pay attention to that fact outside of NaNo, we come to learn an important lesson about ourselves and of what we are capable if we succumb to determination [or stubbornness] simply to meet a goal.
Why this epiphany took four years of NaNo-ing, I have no idea.
But most of all, what I take from NaNo each year is the not so gentle shove to complete a goal. Two out of these four years have been a real blast. These last two have been more of a challenge, so I believe I might be getting to the nitty gritty of what NaNo could mean for me. I am not certain if I am journeying closer to a new realization of the determination we writers need, or something else. The journey is becoming very… interesting. Testing. Challenging. Putting me in a deeper place of dedication as I realize just how much I love what I do.
But this journey also pushes me to dig. I want to find treasure, but that will depend on me.
Nona King grew up on a 30-acre homestead in historic Aurora. She has been writing songs, plays, and romance & adventure novels since the age of sixteen. Her first paranormal fantasy series, The Soul Cycle, is a winner of the National Novel Writing Month. Her inspirational romance, Searching for Sara, will be released in print December 9, 2012. Nona has been an NCWA member since 2008.