It has been an incredible right of passage. Bearing in mind that it normally takes me at least a year to pen a novel, the challenge of writing a complete novel within a thirty day time span was almost laughable. I'm meticulous about my plot development, planning it out in detail and then revising as I go along, plastering my 'writing cupboard' in copious amounts of mini-post it notes that I'm constantly re-sticking into a different order - not with NaNoWriMo - you just don't have the time.
The only thing you have time to do is write.
I'm amazed at how liberating this experience has been and how I have discovered that I am actually a much more competent writer than I sometimes give myself credit for. I've come to understand that the reason I spend a year writing a novel is mainly due to a terrible lack of confidence - time has been my security blanket, my crutch. I now know that I can write characters and stories with just as much structure, emotion and development within a month (+ a little time editing lol!) as I can in a year.
It could be that NaNoWriMo also hit at a 'good' time. I had literally (the day before) just published my fourth novel and a couple of months before that I had completed the trilogy. I'd also written a couple of spontaneous shorts, about 5,000 words a piece within a couple of days - so in my heart I knew that it could be done. My daily mantra being 'Failure is NOT an option,' because I knew that no matter how much time life sapped from NaNoWriMo in the day, there was always sleep that could be sacrificed. Fortunately it didn't come to that.
There were moments that it seemed like it might never happen. Sometimes a thousand words being plucked from your brain hurts - and then there is the roller coaster effect of writing so many scenes back to back; you barely get over one plot crisis (Weeping and cramming mouth full of chocolate) before you're on another one. In this way NaNoWriMo is gruelling - especially when you're writing about such complex issues as child abuse, grief, self-harm and unrequited love. It's this that provides the challenge, not the mere typing of 50,000 words.
So what are the results? The main result of NaNoWriMo is that I have a folder with a novel in it. 'When Sorrows Come' is loosely based on Shakespeare's Hamlet. Set in contemporary England, it is an exploration of the tragic lives of two young people. Opehlia's mother is bi-polar and is regularly sectioned in the psychiatric unit, and Malachi's mother has remarried after his father's death - to his father's brother. Both Ophelia and Malachi have to deal with terrible personal darkness and navigate their own twisted and dark attraction to one another.
It is a raw and soul-ripping work but there is hope. The reader is left with the idea that no matter how desperate life can be, there is light - should you choose to follow it.
The novel will take some work before it is ready for publication but at the same time, I'm determined to leave it as pure as I can. I don't want to remove the rawness, the passion, the emotional waves that I experienced writing it. I want the strong and true voices of the characters to speak through the diplomatic care of the editor. I'm not sure how readers will find it, in truth it hasn't been written for them - it is a purely self-indulgent story. It is the kind of book that I like to read.
When Sorrows come is experimental and so it is free to find its own path and its own readership - and I am confident that it will, just as I am confident that I will not be the only one to weep over the terrible sadness and waste of it all.
NaNoWriMo = A messy house. Grumpy children. Lonely husband. Poor diet. Poor sleep. Word-count guilt pangs. Forgetfulness of anything not WIP related. Poor personal hygiene but .... I'll be there next year - wild horses couldn't drag me away :)