50k in November 2014!
As I said on Twitter, 50k in a month is not, in itself, that much of a challenge for me anymore. I’ve done it enough times that I certainly know I can. But there’s still something so cool about doing it with other people, all striving for the same goal in the same time frame. And it is important to sort of reset my focus. After the heavy editing I was doing the past few months, I had sort of gotten off-track when it came to generating totally new material. Nano helped re-align my discipline.
Of course, I was also a Nano Rebel, so my discipline was perhaps lacking in that regard. Only about 30k of those 50k were on one project — a space opera that’s actually based, quite tangentially, on the very first thing I ever tried to write, at the tender age of 11. It’s a concept I return to every once in a while, reworking and reimagining. No idea if this most recent iteration will take root in a way that will be useable later, but I enjoyed playing with the main character, particularly. I wanted to take a roguish, devil-may-care, Han Solo-like figure… but make that character female, and also make her the central protagonist of a traditional hero’s journey. It’s not meshing together quite as I’d like yet, but the seeds are there, and I might be able to do more with them later.
The remaining 20k came from not one, not two, but three others — all of them in the Aven universe. One is a few scenes from the immediate sequel. I haven’t written much of that, but sometimes I was just getting the itch to spend time with my familiar, beloved characters rather than building whole new ones — so that’s what I did. The two others take place 200 years and 500 years on, respectively, and were full more of world-building than of plot or character, really. I’ve been trying to sort out how the political realities will shift and reshape over time — which may then help me work backwards to find the correct path for the conclusion of the current story. It’s a fascinating way to think, as a historian — playing out the alternate possibilities that my domino-flicking changes create. Will anything come of those? Maybe. I don’t know. But if anything, it’s giving me a new angle on the world I’ve been living in for so much of the past few years, and that’s always exciting. I don’t feel bad about being a Nano Rebel in this way, because the important thing for me is no longer to make sure I finish a single project — I know I can do that — it’s making sure I make room for writing in my daily life. Switching between projects made sure that I didn’t lose that joy. Writing is a job, for me, but it shouldn’t be a chore. Giving myself a little extra freedom, even if it was outside Nano’s strictest boundaries, made sure my heart stayed as engaged as my head.
The thing that does make this year’s win a bit impressive, in my opinion, is that I actually did it in 21 days. I was in Disney World at the start of the month, so I had an 8-day deficit to come back from. A few 4k days brought me back up to speed — but 4k days aren’t easy to come by, either in terms of time or creativity. You have to really want it. I owe a shout-out to @NanoWordSprints for helping me with that — their prompts and pushes are a great way for me to keep myself on task (and not, say, Tumbling or Pinning).
This is, if not the very latest I’ve won Nano, then pretty close. Most years that I have won, I’ve done so around the 25th. Was this year slower because of that 8 day deficit? Maybe — but I caught that up pretty fast, then just stayed right about on pace the last week or so. Perhaps it’s because the Thanksgiving break usually falls a bit earlier? It’s easier, not just to find the hours to write, but to find the brain space when I’m not sitting down to it after work. But that’s just an excuse, really — I’m perfectly capable of pounding out a thousand words even when I’ve worked 14 hours at my other two jobs (or, as happened a few times this month, after getting home from a 4 hour Star Wars: Edge of the Empire campaign session).
To all my fellow Nano-ers, whether you’ve won already or not, whether you think you’ll make it in tomorrow or not — Congratulations to you! Taking on a project like this is a success in of itself, and it makes us all a part of something pretty special.