On Wednesday afternoon, after 18 days of frenetic writing, I finished my Nanowrimo novel! I typed my 50,000th word, completed the sentence, wrote THE END and exhaled deeply. Woohoo. I hit the word count button, and it said my novel was 50,023 words long.
I don’t know what I expected…some sort of hoopla, I guess. Fireworks. Marching bands. Jack-in-the-boxes. Dancing squirrels. Special effects. Something more than a profound sense of relief that I don’t have to keep writing this godforsaken book.
I flipped over to the Nanowrimo site and pasted my entire novel into its word count box, for word-count verification. Not only was there no hoopla, but it said my novel was only 49,821 words long. What?? I wasn’t finished?? How could that be??
So I flipped back to my novel, picked a paragraph at random, and padded it. By the time I was done, Nanowrimo said my novel was 50,025 words long. Still no hoopla, but at least it’s over.
I was planning to embark upon a second, better novel as soon as this one was done, but I can’t bring myself to start it just yet, not while the stench of the last one is still in my nostrils.
I honestly didn’t think myself capable of writing such a stinker of a book. But I did it, and I’m proud of it. I blasted right through my writer’s block, and I learned a lot from the process, including:
- There’s a big difference between wanting to write and actually writing.
- A good novel needs good bones.
- In order to develop interesting, fleshed-out characters, you can’t invest too much of yourself in caring whether they’re ‘good’ or ‘bad’ people.
- In order to make progress while writing a book, you can’t perfect each sentence as you go, even if the thing you love most about writing is a well-crafted sentence. Save that for the second draft.
- When you feel your book is irredeemably bad, it’s hard to keep investing the time and energy to make it longer.
- You still get a good buzz and a sense of accomplishment from reaching your goal, even if your book stinks.
- There’s a first-draft sweet point where you strike the right balance between quality and quantity. I’m going to find it in my next book.
What next? I’m going to wait a couple of weeks and then I’ll read my first draft to see if there’s anything I want to salvage from it. I’m not going to do a second draft; this book has already served its purpose and there’s nothing more to be wrung out of it. I will take advantage of the free offer for the publishing of a single copy of the book, but I will hide that copy well and destroy it before I die.