Saturday, December 1, 2012

The End: National Novel Writing Month

National Novel Writing Month. This year, I finally decided I would participate. I signed up on the website, I outlined a little bit, I pondered it over in the week leading up to it... then I started two days late because I found myself with an outline but no real direction.

At the end of the month, I have accumulated just over 25,000 words on a single project. Sort of. Some of the pieces feel like they belong to distinctly different stories though in my mind they are all part of the same world. Some of it was world building, as opposed to the story arc of my main protagonist(s) (never even met the secondary protagonist).

My NaNoWriMo Graph
 Do I think I "failed"? Absolutely not. I may not have churned out the 50,000+ words of other writers, I may not have "WON" the event that NaNoWriMo is celebrated to be... but I wrote 25,000 words related to ONE project. That's a lot, given that I'm much more comfortable in shorter, smaller territories. I did fail though, in one important regard - and it's the one thing I believe kept me from generating the 1,667 words per day.

I failed to KNOW my characters very well. I didn't know my characters, so it was very difficult to invest in their story. Certainly I find their story interesting, or I'd have thrown it to the wayside immediately.

The pieces that got me to and beyond my daily word goal? Those were about characters I adapted from other half-formed stories in my mind, characters that I've played with and known in some regard or another (some of them for several years). These were easy. I knew their internal landscape. I could put them in situations of varying types and I'd know how they'd react, respond, what they'd get out of those situations, how they might change and develop... I knew them.

Kyern, though? The first of my two main protagonists? I don't know him. What I do know of him, he doesn't know yet. I know he's young, a little confused, and pretty much 'lost' in the world. He lives his day to day life and that's all there is. At the beginning of this story, he doesn't yet know ANY of the things that might make him more interesting. He's pretty much just a regular kid (young adult, but... kid) who has a very irregular destiny ahead of him. I found exploring his life, his daily routine, to be rather boring - but I needed to explore it to get to know THIS much about him. (I did discover an old man who is pretty interesting though). Novel-story progression is slower... maybe not as slow as my mind has painted it, but slower than a short story's nonetheless. I learned a lot from and about it.

I have to say that I did not get very much use out of the NNWM community. I don't need the pep talks, and I don't like the socialization aspects of it. I also don't like the competitive nature it evokes when it declares those who reached the 50,000 words "winners" - that means that everyone who didn't (even if they didn't give up) are losers... and that's incorrect. (If there are "winners", there are "losers" - that's how the dichotomy works.) Maybe I'm being overly semantic. Maybe I think that the people who really won are the people who will keep writing, who didn't stop writing even when they knew they weren't going to reach 50,000 words...

In any case! I participated, I did not reach 50,000 words in 30 days, and in the future I will not be participating within the "official" capacity again.

I wrote.
I outlined a novel (or series!) length story, which is something I've never done before.
This story is interesting.
I don't need a 30 day "writing competition" to tell me that I'm worthy, that I am a writer.

Maybe what really bugs me is that I don't think the word "won" even has a place in this process. I think there's did and did not.

I did:
A lot of things I'd never done before, including writing (almost) every day on a singular project.

I did not:
Reach the 50,000 word goal within one month.

When compared to one another? One of those things has significantly more weight than the other.

The end result is that NaNoWriMo isn't a fit for me. I'm very, extremely happy for those people who find it to be a useful motivator and tool, but now I know it doesn't serve the same purpose in my personal space.