To those of you who start a new life on the first of the month, as I do, happy new life! And isn't it satisfying when the first of the month falls on a Monday? Double newness!
The results are in for my ten-day sprint to finish a full draft of my novel-in-progress. Bottom line: I did it. I wrote close to 40,000 words in November, which, added to the 4000 words I already had written on the project, totaled very close to my target goal of 44,000 words for the manuscript (the same length as my most recent novel, Zero Tolerance). Final word count on the manuscript in its current form: 43,539.
Now, while close to 40,000 words in a month falls short by 10,000 words of the goal my NaNoWriMo-ing friends were aiming at (a full 50,000-word novel from start to finish in 30 days), it's definitely the most I've ever written in a month before. Now I have to decide what I think about writing so much in such a concentrated time frame.
It was definitely hard work. I needed to write for my early morning hour, and then write AGAIN, and then write AGAIN to get it all done. I gained three pounds in the course of the month by neglecting fitness (though a week of frigid temps and heavy snow didn't help, as did purchasing not one but two tubs of cookie dough from a boy at church who was selling them as a marching band fundraiser ). I was more tired. I was more stressed.
For a while I felt the quality of the writing might be suffering. I worried that the story might be getting progressively off track and that as the words kept mounting up, it might be heading more and more in the wrong direction. I didn't have the other 23 hours of my day, which I usually do, to reflect on where it was going wrong and why. I just had to keep writing word after word, page after page.
But then I decided I was mistaken about my sense of misdirection. When I got to the end of my draft, it was about 8000 words too short, which contributed to my sense of its being less fully realized than my books usually are. But at the same time I had the blinding realization of exactly what the story needed: a few crucial scenes, which after I wrote them added up to just about exactly 8000 words. It helped rather than hurt that I reached the end so quickly, so that I could survey the whole thing from the vantage point of completion, and see what it needed. Speed didn't end up compromising quality. At least that's my verdict right now. I'm expecting writing group comments on December 10, and if it did, they'll let me know.
I feel exhilarated. I did so much more than I ever thought I could do! I do feel ready to turn my attention elsewhere for a while, say, to family, fitness, and Christmas. But that's as it should be.
My conclusion: while I still plan to be an hour-a-day writer for the rest of my days, a sprint once in a while is a positive thing, a chance to stretch and grow, to feel my writer lungs engorged with oxygen, to feel the muscles in my writer legs burn, to feel those endorphins lighting up my writer brain. I would do it again.