I Won Nano

I thought I had won Nanowrimo before. Officially, according to their website, I haven’t even won Camp Nanowrimo (during which you set your own word goal in the summer), but I had come ridiculously close (less than 2000 words) to winning Nano the year I started The Journey of Clement Fancywater (in 2014). Well then, you are now witnessing my first Nanowrimo win. (!!!) Technically it happened twelve days ago, but I forgot to blog about it in the moment and then I got busy. It was exciting.

All month long I kept pretty close to the word count graph—ahead for most of the month and then took Thanksgiving off and zoomed forward meeting my daily goals until the end. But that means that on Nano End Eve I was writing those final words. Around nine o’clock I went to check what was happening on my local Nano chapter’s Discord when I caught the tail end of a couple, random sprints (when as a group you write for fifteen or twenty minutes straight, trying to get lots of words down). I average a little more than 500 words per sprint. I jumped in to participate, and on their last one I was 400-something away from 50,000 words, which I mentioned in the comments. One of the local leaders (MILs) volunteered to run one more sprint to get me over the finish line. I don’t know how it happened, but I actually wrote more than 800 words in that sprint, with everyone (like six people) watching and the pressure of expectation. 50,399! Then they all celebrated with me with memes and gifs and kind words.

Then I went to the Nano site to make sure that my word count was correct and that I had confetti floating down my screen. Then I went to bed, a Nanowrimo winner.

I wrote 50,000 words, which is a “novel,” but not a novel. I actually ended up using my first 12,000 words to finish the novel that I was almost done with (and kept draaaaaging on and on). Therefore, I have about 38,000 words of a new novel, The Edge. I have figured out that, based on story-telling cues and arch, I am probably a third of the way done with a 90-100,000-word novel. Which means that if I kept up Nano pace, I would be done in one month. This will not happen. I have weekends and holidays to account for. But I do think that 2,000 words per workday—for me—is not beyond my grasp. Basically, if I do four sprints in the morning hours of a workday, I am sitting at 2,000 words-plus. Minus Sundays and most Saturdays plus an occasional holiday, and I could be done with The Edge’s first draft in around seven weeks.

I’ll have to accept that. I would like it to go faster, but life.

Photo by me. I took it.

I will then have to set the book aside and do a second draft for The Journey of Clement Fancywater (which might take a month) and then a final-final draft of The Family Elephant’s Jewels (because I’ve learned enough this year to realize it needs a re-work, which might take me another month) and then I can return to The Edge for a second draft. After first readers, a final draft, and bouncing back and forth between novels, then, I could see a final of Family Elephant in February, Clement in April or May, and The Edge Book 1 in the summer. Arg. That seems too far away, especially when it is easily my most marketable book to date. But I can’t rush the process more than moving fast through moving-fast parts. Every book needs breathing room, and needs other eyes, and needs drafts for macro and then fine-tuning. This is the way it works. I best just do my best and stop complaining.

So here’s to winning Nanowrimo, 2022! I have 50,000 more words on the page and both memories tucked away and lessons learned. Quite a lot of lessons, actually. Some I learned in the process and some from talking to other Nanowrimers. Many of the lessons were learned in the Nano-prepping books that I read (like Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, which I will review for you soon). I don’t even want to admit it, but the countdown on my fulltime writing clock has already begun and the alarms will go off next summer if I don’t pull something amazing off. I actually feel like the new trilogy is that amazing thing, but it needs hard work and time. Time. Maybe I need a Nano every month between now and the summer. I have one residency already lined up (which means one week of intensive). I’ll just have to find it in myself to be super-focused for a few hours every day and then be the mom and wife and whatever the rest of the time. Maybe short stories are sacrificed in this season. I don’t know. It takes time to crank out 100 submissions in a year. Seriously.

But now I’m rambling. I won Nano. End of story. Hardly.

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