Today I won NaNoWriMo!
For those of you unaware (though I can't imagine what kind of blinders you must be wearing to have missed it), NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month--it's a contest (of sorts) where you write 50k words in one month (a novel being the goal in sight). And for busting your hump to write 50,000 words (that's four zeros, in case you're not counting) in thirty days or less, you win this:
But this shiny new badge is made extra cool because it comes fully equipped with bragging rights, see. So, once you win, you can do this:
**Look at me, Damn it! I have a shiny new badge!
Okay, in all seriousness, why do it, right? I know those of you who opted not to participate (or, eh hemm, those of you who hadn't heard of it until now), are wondering who would enter into such a contest. It's not as if you get published just for spitting out so many words in thirty days.
I don't know what all the reasons are, and actually, the only one I've really heard is that some writers feel they need the motivation to sit down and keep pumping out words to complete a novel (first time writers, too many distractions, not enough insanity, your cat gets jealous...whatever.)
But, let me just say...I am not one of those people. I wrote my first manuscript, Aeternus, in six weeks. The first fifty thousand words took me only two weeks to write (Please refer to one of my earliest blog posts: Obsessions). You see I am insanely obsessive--emphasis on insane. When I set out to do something, I put everything into it, sometimes to the neglect and detriment of some very important things. I can't fully justify it...no excuses. It is what it is, and I'm working on it.
But I digress...
The thing is, I didn't NEED NaNoWriMo to write my new book. What I needed was a sense of accomplishment. After I wrote and edited Aeternus, I tried to get representation for it, then learned, Holy crap, it's a bazillion words too long. So, I spent the next six weeks chopping 65K words and rewriting and reshaping and chop chop chop until my head actually exploded. And then I worked my eyeballs (the ones attached to the head that didn't actually explode) until they literally vibrated researching agents and all that hullabaloo, and frustrated my powers of persuasion getting a couple of people to read it, then wracked my brain until it bled as I rewrote queries and synopses and blurbs, oh my! Can I just say this--I mean, I really need to (those of you with PG eyeballs, skip the next sentence):
This shit really sucks. In the end, I got ten queries out and got back five rejections. Don't know what happened to the other five; rejection by omission, I guess...can't blame them. I don't even answer every e-mail I get, and I'm not getting hundreds a day. Still, I felt so discouraged, so drained of any ability to even look at Aeternus again that I set it aside. And guess what happened? Yeah...new idea. Very next day: first day of NaNo. Coincidence? I don't know. But I knew that I needed something to work for. I knew that in the end it may not be about publication at all (Pshaw!).
Now, is this the end for Aeternus? Ha! Of course not (OBSESSION). In fact, this weekend, I will likely set out to fix up some minor issues that have plagued me about Aeternus and start a new round of beta reading, and eventually more query letters. But, I have to tell you, this shiny new badge? It didn't get me an agent or a publication contract, but it did make me feel like I was just a little bit validated, you know? And not by some writing organization--but by me. Because I set out to do something, and I did it. And now, it sort of kind of feels like maybe perhaps if I set out to publish, it will happen too.
OR...maybe it's just a shiny new badge that says "Winner" on it, and if that happens to make me feel just a little bit good about myself, well, I'll take it.
P.S. I'm crazy grateful for a lot of things, the least of which is this shiny new badge. Thank you to my family firstly for encouraging my obsession despite all it costs you; thank you to my friends for not forgetting I exist even when I ignore you for fictional people; thank you to all of the wonderful people that have helped me with the research, love, and support that it takes to write my novels; thank you to my crit partners and #amwritingparty crowd and all of the other encouraging peeps I've met via Twitter, Facebook, and elsewhere. I swear, if I ever get published, I will acknowledge you personally in my book(s).
Happy Thanksgiving. Eat pie.
*I recognize that it's quite possible you entered NaNoWriMo for the same reason as me, but I needed a title, and that one seemed catchy. Get off my back already.
**Crazy person shouting pic is from http://www.tinkworld.com/paparazzi-file.html