In a writing stupor the 23,000th word was typed. Fingers slammed the wrong keys, misguided by the brain fatigued beyond total exhausation, hoping for some respite; but the heart would hear nothing of it, and I pushed on.
I only decided to stop for the night when I realised just how incoherent my thoughts had gotten, and how I simply could not concentrate at all on writing: I found that I had killed my character in Chapter 4 and Chapter 6, just as I completed chapter 12, in which she was a vital character.
But quantity, not quality, was the order of the night, so I allowed this metaphysical paradox to stand, fully believing that it would fix itself later on.
I went to bed and slept almost immediately.
The next night, I continued my writing. By chapter 16, I had run out of ideas. Writing stalled for a while, till I remembered that my character’s dual-death was still not resolved. With a stroke of genius, I decided this story would not be a thriller anymore: science fiction — complete with time travel and the theory of Parallel Universes — would be my genre of choice.
NaNoWriMo and its 50,000 Words
NaNoWriMo is about writing a 50,000 word novel in a month. I approached it thinking that it was an insanely doable task. And with so many other people having already done it (over 9,000 in 2005), how hard could it be?
Well, hard. Very hard, in fact.
It took me 19 days to hit my 13,000th word, and I was at this time already giving up over an hour of my time most nights to write.
The last few nights, in my push towards the halfway mark, I’ve been giving close to three hours of my time. I’ve even given up reading, television, and my semi-daily run. I’ve isolated myself from friends and family; the radio’s been unplugged; and I have cut my sleeping time almost 20%. If this isn’t obsessive, I don’t know what is.
I’ve asked myself countless times what I was doing all this for: Nobody’s going to read my novel; nobody’s going to say “well-done”; and I’m not going to get any monetary reward. Just what am I getting out of it?
I’ve often thought of giving up this silly game, especially as I struggled to find things to write. And of late, as the stagnation of ideas begins, this has been a thought continually playing on my mind: “Perhaps I should stop now. I could always try next year, when I’m more ready.”
That was the thing that made me realise that whether I liked it or not, I would have to go through with this: Not going through with this, all the way till the end, would be to set a terrible precedent, and I’m not prepared to do that.
I could well imagine myself giving up a business opportunity because “I could always wait for the next one to come along, when I’m more ready,” or not studying for an exam “because there’s always next year.”
I realised that if I do manage to get through these moments of self-doubting and push through to complete this novel, however bad it may be, it would prove to be a fantastic reference point for the rest of my life, instead of a terrible precedent for me to have to live with.
I hope to give you the good news in a week’s time when NaNoWriMo ends.