I have the certificate taped up in my kitchen:
National Novel Writing Month is proud to certify
This Writer, author of An Improbable Life
As a 2016
Congratulations, writer! This November you spent 30 days exploring your creative
universe, and defied gravity to reach your goal of 50,000 words.
Your story is a vital star in an expansive, beautifully diverse cosmos. We’re so proud
to have been part of your incredible achievement.
I was not planning to participate in 2016, in fact I wasn’t planning on ever doing it again. I participated twice before many years ago. Both times I had finished but the biggest problem was that I’d gone into it without a plan. I had no interest in doing that again because it was a lot of effort and a lot of words without much hope for further success.
But…during the last week of October my daughter (who lives and works on the opposite side of the world) sent me a message asking if I’d do NaNoWriMo with her. How could I possibly turn down an invitation like that? So there I was on November 1 without much of a plan. Again. I will qualify that: I had a teeny-tiny plan.
I knew that I just didn’t have the heart for trying to mine fiction from my tired mind so I decided on memoir. It had been a very challenging year that had brought multiple facets of my life together in unexpected ways so I wrote three strands of memoir-story and attempted to braid them together as the story went on. I am about as pleased with it as a writer can be with a first draft. As I hoped, I had many a-ha moments along the way with clarity, insight, and questions that had not surfaced before.
I was so looking forward to having a writing buddy, especially in the daughter I only see every two years. But just a week into the project my daughter had to drop out because of increasing demands in her work place. I was disappointed but I was in so I kept at it.
It was hard. Even harder than I remembered. November is not an easy month to give that much time and effort—at least not for me. In addition to the time constraints I felt the fatigue of dredging through and analyzing many life changing experiences. But I finished and they say I’m a winner! My plan is to look at the manuscript this spring and see about two or three sections that I could develop into saleable articles. It’s very satisfying to finally have a plan and a goal coming from so much effort.