Looks Like We Made It

Well, for somebody who burst on the scene of this year’s NaNoWriMo with the super-sekrit plan to pull a double, I damn near didn’t make the single. Considering I’d planned the whole thing as a lesson in pacing, that almost makes it a “fail.”

But it’s not. I learned from it. I learned how far I can go before I hit overload and melt into an¬†obstinate crankypants who spends a rebellious week watching movies all day on the Hallmark channel instead of writing. Yeah, that’s right. I did that. Shut up.

Because then I picked myself back up and moved forward at a normal pace. So, for three out of the four weeks, I wrote every day. And for that last week, I pretty much did what I’m supposed to be doing year round, but never figured out how to do¬†before.

Except for that last day. It was a bitch. November 30th opened with a funeral, so I lost writing time. No, really, a real funeral, not a fictional one. (Though I did have to write a funeral that day, too.) I didn’t begrudge the time. Some things are more important than beating an arbitrary deadline. So, we went to the funeral and then went to lunch with my sister-in-law, who we never get to see. Priorities.

And then I came home to face the remaining 4000 words before midnight. I made it by 10 pm. I got my little winner flag on the NaNo website. And then I collapsed. Not just because it was hard work under pressure, but because the scenes I’d so been dreading finally had to be faced. Tissues were required twice during the night.

I’m now more than halfway through my initial read/tweak, and I have to say, it’s not the depressing mess I thought it was. When you’re writing on a large scale like this, it’s like working through a microscope. All you see is what’s right in front of you in sharp detail. The rest is outside your vision. Now that I’m looking at the whole, it’s looking pretty good. This won’t take the major overhaul I thought it would. Which is awesome, since it’s due by the end of the month.

So, now what? Well, first, I have to edit this book and hand it over. Then I have a short story that needs immediate editing attention. I have a new book to promote starting January. And also in January, I’m starting a new sekrit project.

I can’t promise I’ll do NaNo again after this year, but the three years I’ve done it have taught me so much. Every lesson learned was hard won, but that’s what makes a lesson stick.

Most of all, those three years have given me the tools I need to go forward on my own.

Rachel is the author of the urban fantasy Monster Haven series from Carina Press. She believes in magic, the power of love, good cheese, lucky socks, and putting things off until stress gets them done faster at the last minute. Her home is Disneyland, despite her current location in Kansas.

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