Do you hear it? The sweet sound of a triumphant cheer? The celebratory clink of champagne glasses (or, in my case, the coffee mug)?
I finished NaNoWriMo yesterday afternoon – and by finished, I mean I hit the 50,000 words and brought the story to a (somewhat) logical conclusion, thus completing my goal for 2011! I spent the rest of the afternoon in a bit of a stupor which has carried over into today, but I’m terribly proud of myself! Sure it’s crap, but that’s the point, right? I already know what I want to change and add and edit – and
maybe I will.
This past month has taught me (and reminded me) a lot about writing. It’s been so long since I’ve sat down and just written (NaNoWriMo last year, actually) that the sudden awareness of ideas and characters and scenes in my head has left me a tad dazed and confused – in a good way. This year has very much been a year of reading and writing for me – more reading than writing, I’ll admit, but never have I been more in love with the written word. In what has been a chaotic month, I’ve made the time to write. In my flurry of boxes and (un)organising I found an essay called “Why I Write” by George Orwell which begins:
From a very early age, perhaps the age of five or six, I knew that when I grew up I should be a writer. Between the ages of about seventeen and twenty-four I tried to abandon this idea but I did so with the consciousness that I was outraging my true nature and that sooner or later I should have to settle down and write books.
I found lots of other things that reminded me that, once upon a time, I wanted to be a writer. Somewhere along the way I got “sensible” and changed my degree from Creative Writing to teaching, but now I like to think I finally got where that person – all those years ago – wanted to be.
I’m a writer.
Dorothy C. Fontana has some very wise words on this:
You can’t say ‘I won’t write today’ because that excuse will extend into several days, then several months, then … you are not a writer anymore, just someone who dreams about being a writer.
I have spent many years dreaming of being a writer. In fact, one of the things I’ve noticed is that if you read the advice given by any author to any person who wants to be a writer, it’s usually “write”. Pretty simple, write? (See what I did there? Punny Stef strikes again!)
Over the past month, I have been a writer. Not just someone who calls themselves a writer and wishes for more time to write, but someone who actually spent a lot of time writing. Writing. I wrote a novel. A whole novel. It has a beginning, middle and end. It has characters, events take place, and there are some redeeming factors despite the overall “crap” verdict I’ve given it. For an entire month, I’ve been a writer – more than any other time this year. And for the entire month, I’ve loved it.
After verifying my 50,166 words yesterday I sifted through my computer files to find some “incomplete” novels and see what might be rectified from the little darlings. It was like sifting through a lucky dip box and finally deciding on a package. You open it and expect to get something useless and pretty crappy – it’s a lucky dip, afterall. Completely aware that some of the stuff would be terrible, I dipped away and discovered … that sometimes, you can actually got something decent in a lucky dip. Like the little pair of opals my sister once got in Lightning Ridge that my Dad and Stepmum had put into a necklace for her birthday.
I discovered many things with the two major ones being a novel that currently has a word count of 69,314 and is close to completion, and another novel that I still think about on the odd occasion, coming in at 35,542 words and about half way.
I also found ideas. Lots and lots of ideas. I’ve created documents with a rough outline, saved them, then never opened them again – all based around the scribbled out bits of paper stuck in my diary and text messages I’ve sent to myself so I remember that crazy idea I had while trying to choose which muesli bars to buy at the supermarket. There are more bits of paper and text messages and lingering wisps of dreams in my mind … I’ve got ideas.
My goal for NaNoWriMo 2011 was to write and finish a novel in a month.
I don’t want to think about NaNoWriMo 2012. For now, I’m looking at December. And January. And each individual month after that. I don’t want to be a writer for one month of the year; I want to be a writer for twelve months of the year.
I’ve been a writer who actually writes for the past 30 days. You know what? If I keep this up, I just gained 335 writing days in my year.
Do you hear that? That’s the sound of my keyboard – I’m still writing despite finishing NaNoWriMo this year. Because I’m a writer.