Wednesday, December 2, 2009
The Party's Over...Or Maybe It's Just Begun...
Well folks, the NaNo party is over. Writers everywhere are breathing a sigh of relief as they relax their pens, fingers, keyboards, etc. And how did your ol' buddy Eric fare during this trying month? Well, let me tell you.
I started out the month really cranking hard. I got a good lead in the beginning, and it saved me from really falling behind. But life has a way of popping the balloon just as we're soaring to heights never seen before. Despite my early lead, little things here and there caused me to fall behind schedule. By the twentieth, I was a good 5 or 6 thousand words behind. Then I had a very difficult decision to make.
You see, besides working on NaNo, I was also studying intensely for my last collegiate exam. It was a Microsoft certification exam for networking (in fact, one of the hardest they have out there). On the twentieth, I sat down to think very hard about what was the most important thing here. Remember our recent discussion about priorities? After weighing everything carefully, I decided to opt out of continuing with NaNo and concentrate on my studies. NaNoWriMo has been important to me, but finishing school was even more important.
Making that choice was probably the best thing I could have done. I crammed hard for the test and yesterday I successfully passed it. I am now a college graduate with a Bachelors degree in Information Technology with Networking emphasis. Okay, I still have some paperwork to complete with the college and a graduation to attend in January, but these are mere formalities.
Now that all of this is done, it's time to reflect on things. I do not regret beginning NaNo one bit. I managed to crank out about 37K words before I stopped (which I intend to continue working on). I also learned alot about myself. Let me share with you what I have learned through this experience:
1. I can write every day and crank out alot of words per day (okay, not as many as Lost Wanderer seems capable of, but oh well).
2. I realize now how much I really need more organization prior to launching into a project. Even a rough outline would be better than what I attempted during NaNo. It would probably have allowed me to be a "free roamer" and still stay inside boundaries that make sense.
3. I realize I don't really like NaNo with respect to word counts. The word count became an anchor that threatened to drown me, rather than allowing me to concentrate on the story.
4. I can write chapter after chapter of not-so-good writing and it's okay. This was a really hard thing to learn, to duct tape my inner editor's mouth shut so I could just write. I swear he almost chewed through the stuff at least 10 times.
5. My wife hates NaNo. It was a really drastic change for me to shut out the outside world while I build my own on the page. I usually don't shut the door on the fam for so long, but I had to in a very big way for this event. This is not an aspect I like, another reason I may not attempt NaNo again.
All in all, I enjoyed plodding through NaNo despite the troubles and aggravations. I am sure I would have been successful at the end, had I not needed to concentrate on other things. And I have a whole year to contemplate whether to attempt it again (a whole year of flowers for my wife so she doesn't scalp me next year).
As for celebrating, you better believe I am doing just that. I graduated! That in itself is cause for celebration. I also learned alot during November, which is also good. And now that I'm not working towards an IT degree, maybe I can take a few creative writing classes to improve my craft. Thank you to everyone who supported and encouraged me throughout this month. A special thanks goes out to my wife and kids, who always support me no matter how absent I might be.
So who made it through NaNo as a winner? Even if you didn't, congrats for making the attempt. It's quite a challenge, and no matter how it turned out, you should hold your head high.