NaNoWriMo Week 4: The Homestretch

The Homestretch might seem like a better title for last week, the stretch of NaNoWriMo that I got to spend at home. My NaNo vacation was not quite what I expected it to be. I had a hard time forgetting about work. I was on the phone with work pretty much every day, so it was always on my mind, rather than being able to pretend I was a full-time writer like I originally planned. Additionally, our family dog, who has been a near-constant presence for me ever since I started writing, died on Friday. You can read more about her on my blog. Overall, I would say it is the worst NaNo vacation I’ve had in the four years I have been doing this.

That being said, despite my generally cynical outlook, I did meet my writing goals for the week. I wanted to average in the neighborhood of two to three thousand words a day. I wrote a little over twenty thousand words during the week. As I type this, I am less than five thousand words from winning NaNoWriMo. There is little doubt that I am going to win, barring any unforeseen catastrophe.

In many ways, NaNoWriMo is a lesson in the writing life. There are going to be a lot of days when you don’t feel like writing, when you don’t have the time you expected to have. You are going to be trying to write happy scenes when you are depressed and depressing scenes when you are happy. Your novel is not going to care about what is happening in your life and the relationship between the writer and the work starts to feel parasitic. There isn’t much you can do about it. Just keep pushing forward and hope for the best.

Neil Gaiman says that you write when you are inspired and you write when you aren’t, but when you look back you can’t tell which words you wrote when you were inspired and which ones you wrote because they needed writing. I think about that a lot in my approach to being a productive writer. NaNoWriMo is a good way to learn that sort of persistence. It is so easy to fall behind if you stop for even a day, and a few days away can quickly add up to what seems like an insurmountable challenge.

In November, I face my busiest month of the year, holidays with friends and family, inclement weather, and a host of other things that would easily be excuses to not get in my fifty thousand words. In the end, I have always reached my goal, and I am very proud of that.

Five thousand words. It seems like nothing now, as if I could sit down right now and hammer them out. The torture of the blank page, of not knowing my story and wondering if I can sustain it, has changed in to the bliss of reaching the climax and discovering how it all turns out for my merry band of professional killers.

I am excited to reach the end. Things have taken shape that I didn’t expect, and I think the final scenes will be a lot of fun to write.

Current word count: 45,000

Jack Campbell, Jr. is a dark fiction writer in Lawrence, KS. His writing has appeared in various venues including Twenty 3 Magazine, Danse Macabre, and Insomnia Press. He writes about reading, writing, and life on his blog at www.jackcampbelljr.com.

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