So I didn’t make it. I wasn’t even close. The goal was to write a complete 50,000 word novel in a month. Accepting for the moment that 50,000 words is in fact a complete novel, I still didn’t do it – I got about 30,000, and I think I’m about halfway done.
But here’s the thing. I’ve got 30,000 words that I didn’t have on Halloween, half a book I hadn’t even conceived when the leaves started turning. For me, that’s HUGE. It usually takes me nine months to a year to write a first draft of a novel, most of my novels being about 100,000 words long, and that’s not including notes and research and what little bit of outlining I do. With this one, in a single month, I’ve gotten it well and truly started, gotten the exposition out of the way, gotten the characters far enough into their relationships with one another that they almost talk for themselves, gotten the spring of the plot wound up tight, to borrow a metaphor from Jean Anhouilh, ready to unwind. And it’s only taken me a month. And I would never have done that if I hadn’t been trying to do a NaNo book, busting my way past my own doubts and second guessing and natural laziness to just get those words written down and counted. Every time I wanted to quit or felt like I just didn’t have the time or energy to write, I would think of my word count and keep going – just a couple hundred, then I’ll go to bed. Get up an hour early, and I can bash out my first thousand before I leave for work.
And now I know it works. Now I know I can do it. I’m so deep into this book, I can’t abandon it; I gotta see how it comes out. And if I can do the first half in November, I know there’s no good reason why I can’t get the rest done by the end of the year. So watch this space – I’ll keep you posted. I might not be able to write a book in a month, but maybe I’ll do it in two.