Holy cow on a cracker, I can’t believe it’s over. This November has flown by. I still haven’t registered that Thursday was December 1, Friday was December 2, and now I’ve got to worry about Christmas shopping.
The last week and a half of NaNo was probably the most manic, which is not unusual. After all, it’s Thanksgiving, which typically means a 4-day weekend at the very least, and all the traveling to visit family that a holiday entails.
Of course, that wreaked havoc on my plan to write every day, because after staying up till midnight or 1 a.m. talking to my cousins, I had to haul into my bedroom, pull out the laptop, and pound out at least 100 words.
Once I got started, it was relatively easy to get 300-400 words, but boy, was I wiped out afterwards.
Plus, November 26 was the first annual Tulsa Write-A-Thon, also known as “The Critic Writes 5,000 Words in Four Hours.”
Because when you factor in the pictures, the goofing off, the setting up, the making of the cheese dip, and the “oh God it’s 4:30 and I’ve got 2200 words left” paranoia, I was lucky to get four hours of writing in.
For the Write-A-Thon, we booked a meeting room for 6 hours (we wanted to take it easy for our first one) and had everybody bring food and drinks and mobile writing instruments (read: notebooks — the paper kind — and laptops — the computer kind). More than a dozen people showed up, at least half brought food, and overall it was a lot of fun.
My goal was to write at least 5,000 words during the write-a-thon with the goal of raising money for the Office of Letters & Light, which is the nonprofit that runs National Novel Writing Month. NaNo has meant a lot to me over the past few years, and one of the reasons I was writing was to give something back.
Ultimately, we raised about $200, which is pretty respectable for our first year doing this.
The last few days of the month were filled with Facebook posts and chat room celebrations as people jumped, ran, and crawled their way across the 50,000-word mark.
There are few things more awesome than watching somebody achieve a goal that they never thought they would. One of the most-said things during NaNo (aside from the advice to add pirates, ninjas, or blow something up) is that you never know until you try.
We saw people top 1,500 words in a 30-minute writing challenge when they didn’t think they’d be able to get more than 600 or 700. We had people crank out 7,000 words in the last day to hit their goal. And we had one WriMo finish her novel — a 102,000-word behemoth — with 41 minutes to spare.
That right there? That’s why I come back to this year after year.
NaNo is the reason I have 5 different novels in various stages of completion, from the “oh God not another rewrite” stage to the “good thing first drafts are supposed to be terrible” stage to the “I probably should finish this soon” stage.
NaNo is the reason I have made a solid group of writing friends here in Tulsa.
And NaNo is the reason that I remembered, five years ago, why I love to write.
NaNo 2011 by the Numbers
Final official word count: 62,409/50,000
Most words written in a day: 6,017
Fewest words written in a day: 231
Number of pages in MS Word: 97 (Cambria, 11 pt., single-spaced)
Number of characters (with spaces): 348,994 (the equivalent of almost 2,493 tweets)
Number of paragraphs: 2,117
Number of author notes: 2 (only two?)
Number of hours spent at write-ins: 38
Average write-in attendance: 11 people
Highest number of attendees at a write-in: 23
Lowest number of attendees at a write-in: 9
Number of popsicle sticks that fell off the graveyard: 10
Number of gravestones in the character graveyard: …I’m not counting that high. We’re a bloodthirsty bunch.
Number of times Word froze on me: 14
Number of hours spent listening to Abney Park: 30
Number of hours spent listening to the Sherlock Holmes score: 10
Number of tea bags consumed: 18 pumpkin spice, 15 cinnamon vanilla, and 40 English breakfast
And, my final excerpt (again, with the unedited thing):
“I left Mistress Genevieve in your care,” Wilson said, his voice as even as ever. “You said that she was safe with you. You lied.”
The metal fingers clenched tighter, and Alastair had to wedge his own hands under Wilson’s fingers before he was choked. Below him was nothing but air. His feet kicked uselessly. “The ship was attacked by a dragon. I had slightly more pressing concerns!”
If that news affected Wilson’s judgment, the automaton did not show it. “You lied. I said that if Mistress Genevieve came to harm, I would kill you. I do not lie, Mr. Cole.”
God damn it, this is not how I pictured dying: thrown off a ship by a pissed-off automaton. A pissed-off automaton that was strangling him, on that note. Alastair fought to breathe. “If you kill me, Wilson, you won’t be able to get her back.”
“I do not believe you, Mr. Cole.”