My official count on the NaNoWriMo site was 40,374. My actual count was 48,291. It was my fault: even though the counter on the NaNoWriMo home page still had time left, when I tried to put in my final numbers, the function was disabled, so there must have been a cut-off before the actual time. It doesn’t matter so much because I wouldn’t have been an official winner anyway.
I’m happy I participated, and frankly amazed at my results. I didn’t think I would even make it as far as I did, and there were some tense moments, times where I absolutely thought my idea was too corny for words, my prose was wooden and clunky (it actually seemed like the computer made a clunking sound when the words hit the page!), my characters lazy and boring. I broke the rule that says not to delete, but to keep writing–in fact, I broke it several times. There was a lot of despair…tearing of hair, gnashing of teeth, etc.
I decided to join at the last minute, not having written more than a few paragraphs of fiction in years. I suppose it was the equivalent of spending four years on the sofa in front of the television and deciding one day to run a marathon. I didn’t make time and I’ll be walking across the finish line, but one thing I know: there are more races in my future, so to speak.
Starting from scratch with a vague idea was difficult. A lot of what I wrote is simple exploration, scenes where I just tried to get the characters to do things so I could see who they were. Some gave themselves up easily, and some I still have not figured out. It sounds crazy to say you don’t know someone who comes out of your own head, that they can surprise you at the last minute, but it’s absolutely true.
That said, I hope to participate again next year, but I will spend a lot more time on my idea before I begin. It was really only in the last week or so the story actually started to develop, that I got a sense of the pace of things, and maybe who should do the talking. I don’t know if anything I wrote in the last 30 days will even survive, but it wasn’t in vain. It’s just work that must be done. And it feels good to create something, to see it there on the screen.