As the month of November draws to an end, so does the challenge of NaNoWriMo, weary fingers resting at keyboards, pens being laid down with a sigh of relief, cramped hands flexed as we all sit back with acceptance of a journey taken and work accomplished.
If you are one of the millions of writers participating this month, well done you. Well done to all of us. NaNo is a challenge in so many ways – a challenge to our time, our creativity, our ability to sustain a pace of writing that may be neither normal nor possible in our regular lives. It’s something that forces us to be writers, whether we’re ready or not. Forces us to take the idea in our head and run with it, forces us to write on the hop, no time for careful planning and research, a mad dash headlong into the unknown. I must say, when I signed up to do this, I had visions of myself hunched red-eyed over the computer, my family peering anxiously around the door at me, wondering when dinner and clean clothes and made beds would come back into their lives. I mused on my own blog as to whether it needed to be 50,000 words in sequence, or whether any 50,000 words would do, thinking ahead to a time when I might be so overcome with the pressure to keep up that all I could type was a mad jumble of incoherence 'potato raspberry century mountain top.’ But you know what, it’s not been so bad.
At the date of writing this blog post I’m at just over 45,000 words, and, barring any unforeseen circumstances will hit the 50,000 mark this week. My family are still clothed and fed, my responsibilities met. But I would like to say this to all of you out there taking part - whether you’ve written 1000 or 75,000 words, be proud. You’ve stood up and faced the challenge. You’ve discovered how well you work under pressure, whether the idea you had running around in your brain can actually fly, where your plot and characters are taking you. You’ve given yourself up to the Muse, prayed to the gods of writing for inspiration and made your mark. This is one experience where the journey is just as important as the destination, and NaNo, for many of us, will be the start of a longer process. Editing, polishing, finishing and submitting, November is the month when the seeds of many great novels are sown, and we are all part of it.
Happy last days of NaNo everyone, the end is in sight!
You can read more about Helen’s experiences as a writer on her blog. She is currently working on the fourth book in her series, The Ambeth Chronicles, with the final two parts also taking shape. More books are waiting behind those. She is yet to find an agent.