This was my seventh year taking part in NaNoWriMo, my seventh win, and my first time writing a recap. I’ve meant to do them before and they never seem to happen, but this year apparently features quite a few firsts. I took a few days of rest (more than I usually do), but here’s how things shook out:
I wrote 101,101 words in November, which I’m pretty proud of for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s my highest word count ever, beating out my 2012 count of 100,165; that alone makes it impressive, but there’s also the fact that when I achieved that count in 2012, I was living in a city several hundred kilometres from my friends and family, and I’d only moved there a few months before, meaning that I didn’t really know very many people. My then-boyfriend was living there, too, but November is a busy time for farmers, and he worked such ridiculous hours that I didn’t see him all month. (In hindsight, I probably should have been more upset about that, instead of just being excited at all the writing time suddenly in front of me when he said he wouldn’t get to see me in November. Ah, well.) As a result, I had pretty much nothing to do besides work and write-ins, and it did wonders for my word count.
This year, though, I managed to pull off a pretty impressive word count despite a few road blocks. I’m living close to friends and family—I saw my dad every Sunday in November, after he drove my brother back up to college after having been home to work for the weekend—and living with a non-writer, meaning most writing happened when she was either asleep or out of the apartment. Thankfully, I was already in the habit of that, since I work evenings and tend to stay up late writing after I get home. I seemed to be able to hammer out a pretty solid writing pattern for November; hopefully I’ll be able to keep it up.
Another difference between this year and 2012/other years was that I relied more on the online community and my best friend, who also does NaNo, plus a best friend who doesn’t do NaNo but cheerleads like a champ, for encouragement instead of attending local write-ins. In fact, I didn’t attend a single regional event this year. I just couldn’t motivate myself to do so, to be honest. It may be a bit callous, and it’s certainly subjective, but last year was my first in this region. It was the first year for the MLs, and after the fabulous MLs who welcomed me in my first year of NaNoing back in Kingston, a city as full of post-secondary institutions as Ottawa is, I was hoping for more of the same, encouraging newbies attempting NaNo for the first time. Unfortunately, at the few plan-ins and write-ins I attended last year, I found a group of people who’d participated in NaNo together for a long time and knew each other very well—I got a cursory greeting, an invite to take some candy, and we went around introducing ourselves, but otherwise the whole thing felt very cliquey to me, as the MLs then continued to socialize mostly with the people they already knew. I didn’t go to any other events, nor did I attend any this year, and I’m finding it hard to regret that, since this year’s system obviously worked in my favour (and signing in to a chat room instead of travelling to a location in the city is a lot quicker).
The other reasons I’m impressed with myself are a little rougher. Looking at my notes from the first few days of NaNo (I need notes, okay? My memory is crap), on day two it occurred to me that this was my first “original” NaNo in a few years. All of my NaNo projects from 2009-2012 were for the same series, which meant little to no worldbuilding was required for the years after ‘09; 2013 and 2014, on the other hand, were both rewrites or overhauls of previously existing projects, so again, there was a certain familiarity there. This year’s project was totally new, and once I became aware of that I think I tripped myself up a bit—certainly I fumbled a bit at first, achieving high word counts mostly out of stubbornness.
Week three has always been my nemesis, even more so than week two, and I was just starting to get comfortable when I got some bad news on Monday the 16th—my dad’s closest friend, who’d had two strokes in October and was slowly starting to recover, was brought back to his room after physiotherapy that morning and had a massive heart attack. He didn’t survive. I spent most of that week working or writing and hit 50K on the 17th (which I’d planned to do on the 16th, but… that was derailed by getting that news and realizing I owned no pants that were appropriate to wear to a funeral, which required me to go out and buy some). Instead of the small local con I was supposed to attend that weekend, I went home for the wake and funeral and watched my dad try and fail to process losing his best friend, who was four years younger than he is. That was… rough. I can’t imagine how hard it was and still is for my dad.
Thankfully, writing’s always been my favourite way of escaping the shit that goes on in the real world, so I buried myself in writing whenever I wasn’t working for the rest of the month, managed 4K days pretty regularly, and with two 10K days in a row to end the month, finished with 101,101, despite all the crap. This is the part where I throw an honourable mention to the folks in the overachiever chat (you know who you are), who, when I admitted that I was contemplating shooting for 75K, then 90K, then 100K, provided their own brand of relentless, sometimes-maybe-a-little-frightening-to-the-uninitiated encouragement, to say nothing of many, many OARs. This will probably go to your heads, but you’re all awesome. Same goes to the fantastic folks in the Nashville regional chat, who will be explaining to their newcomers for years to come why they regularly get invaded by a Canadian who hasn’t even visited their city (yet), because I ain’t going away when y’all are so much fun. “Set Condition Trudeau,” indeed. Thank you to all in both groups for the ridiculous ideas, the hugs, the words, and all the rest. And thank you to Josee and Meaghan, the aforementioned offline people, for encouraging my ridiculous ideas… but maybe not for the threats about Hermes and Hades. (Ahem, Meg.)
All in all, it was a hell of a month, as November always is. I’m happy with the end result—not only do I have a bunch of words, but they’re actually semi coherent (some lapses aside), I like the story and the characters, and while I have yet to actually finish a story within the month of November, I think the end of this one is in sight, which I’m pretty excited about. My only real complaint is that it went by too quickly.
Cheers, NaNo. See you in April for Camp. I’ll bring the syrup for the morning pancakes.