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The End

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.

14 comments to The End

  • Congratulations on finishing your book!

    Have you read Richard Brautigan’s novel The Abortion: A Historical Romance? In that book there is a library where anyone is allowed to bring in one copy of their book, be it handwritten, mimeographed, blank, whatever, and place it lovingly on the shelf.

    I thought of that when you said you get one printed copy. We need a library like that.

  • Congratulations, ma’am – for finishing, and for daring in the first place to plunge your arms straight into that slightly dangerous-looking and very smelly vat, to embrace the glorious horrible messiness of the creative process…

  • XUP

    But the cool thing is, even with a stinker of a book, is that from now on you get to say, “Oh ya, I’m working on my SECOND book”.

  • Hey I’m game to read it!

    My nanowrimo got totally sidetracked by getting set up to buy a tiny farm…and a ewe named Zoom…and a business plan…which will eventually include the book, but I can’t write a stinker – Slow Food Nova Scotia ppl have expressed interest in my project! So now I need to slow down and write a good cookbook, not a rant about the agrifood industry with recipes in between screeds.

  • Wow. Congratulations!

    I’d never heard of Nanowrimo until I read this post. Maybe I’ll try my hand at it next year. I actually have about 10 chapters of an old novel already written. Is that cheating? ;)

    BTW, here you go.

  • Hooray! Your first book!

    I’m up to 19,000 words, about. We’ll see how it goes. I’m pretty tired.

  • Wooo! Congrats on finishing your book! I’m very impressed and inspired by your Nanowrimo accomplishments. Excellent writing tips too. Can’t wait to read about what comes next!

  • What Xup said.

    Congratulations!

  • I sent you a NanoMessage when I saw that you had reached your goal. That is so cool! You are so cool.
    I am way, way behind you and still vaccillating between despair and triumph. Today was a good day, though. What an amazing thing to experience. This tortoise will see you at the finish line.

  • Congrats, Zoom! This is excellent news! I’m at 32,000+ words…Not sure I’ll get to 50,000 but my goal for the month was actually 20,000 so I’m pretty stoked!

  • Robin, it’s been many many years since I read it. I love Brautigan, and I love that concept of a library. (It’s the Internet!!)

    Thank you Coyote, for the kind words and also for such compelling imagery!

    XUP, I’m not sure I want to encourage people to ask about my first book by referring to my second.

    Mudmama, have I told you how excited I am that you’re getting a ewe named Zoom?

    Catnip, bringing a pre-existing work-in-progress to Nanowrimo is explicitly against the rules. However, there is a sizable and respectable group of Nanowrimo Rebels who thrive on rule-breaking.

    Megan, 19,000 is exactly where GC was when I finished. He’s had a burst of energy since then, and insomnia, and has surged ahead to 27,000. Good luck to you, I’m rooting for you.

    Thank you Roro!

    And thank you too Pamela.

    Laurie, I know you can do it. As a matter of fact, you’ve already written – and published – a book! I bought myself a skein of Misty Alpaca as a reward, by the way. And a lace shawl pattern. For when I need something hard to do.

    WC, you’ve way surpassed your goal – congratulations!

    Oma, thank you.

  • Congratulations! What an huge accomplishment!