Coming into the month of November, I was quite disappointed to realize that college coursework was what stood between me and penning a 50,000 word novel. Quite frankly, I didn't think that it would be possible at all to balance a novel and the life of an already chaotically busy music major! November 1st came and it was quite upsetting to think that I could have started a novel, but I hadn't. I was going to take another year off from noveling and writing. In 2009 and 2010, I had successfully completed the writing challenge, but that was high school when the workload wasn't nearly as high as it is currently in college. Writing a novel is like taking care of a baby. Always needs to be attended to, takes so much out of you, requires so much planning and so forth. Writing 50,000 words in one month seemed impossible at that time.
November 1st...November 2nd...November 3rd...people began bombarding me with the question "Are you novel writing this year?" My answer: A 50,000 word novel isn't a realistic goal I could reach this year, so I'm sitting this year out. It bothered me to admit defeat without even having at it, but it just seemed impossible with all of the things that needed to be accomplished in the month of November. Some people were uncomfortable with the fact that I was already giving up without even attempting the challenge. These people kept pushing me further and further to go ahead and try it anyhow even if I only totaled 26,997 words by the end of the thirty days. They pushed me and pushed me, and it's these people I have to thank for actually getting me to actually do NaNoWriMo this year.
It was late at night on November 4th that I was finally pushed over the edge to write a 50,000 novel. I was going to write a novel...but about what? Plot? Characters? Title? A little before midnight my roommate was rattling off names of her Facebook friends to help me figure out a name for my main character. That night I was writing on the fly racking up as many words as I could. Almost 8,000 words behind at that point going into November 5th, I knew I would spend most of the month of November playing catchup to regain those valuable writing days I had missed.
What challenges did I face in the process of writing a 50,000 word novel?
1) I started 4 days late and about 8,000 words behind the average number of words I should have had. Obvious problem, huh?
2) Lack of time. Need to attend class, do homework, study, practice my instrument, eat, bathe, go to work...who needs to sleep when you can write a novel?
3) Getting into the writing mode. Sometimes I needed music in the background. Sometimes I couldn't stand the sound of Bernstein in my head as I'm trying to delicate scene in my novel. Sometimes, I needed complete silence, but well, that didn't happen. Sometimes, I tried eating and typing at the same time...that didn't work too well. I tried noveling after two hours of hardcore practicing, but my fingers ached. Every day was a different method to get into the writing mode.
4) Work, work, work...oh, and then you can write a novel. In the month of November, I had three papers to write, one music technology project due, four tests (one of them being a final exam), and nine performances (a few of them involving me playing the violin). Oh, and I was also balancing all of that plus four jobs. Tough, huh?
5) The emotional aspect of it all. Stress and emotions don't mix very well.
This month wasn't easy at all. It was miserably difficult and there were days that I did want to drop the novel entirely because I didn't think I could do it or I thought my novel idea was stupid. Sometimes, I had no direction of where to go with my novel and I just put it down for a day or two. In the final week of November, here began my late night writing sessions (primarily working until two in the morning or until I had enough words to make me happy for the moment). My fingers ached, my eyes were completely bloodshot, I looked like a trainwreck, and I was tired. The end of the month was certainly harder than the beginning. Writing novel wasn't easy, but it was rewarding once I had the finished product.
I finished my 50,012th word exactly four minutes before midnight, just in time for me to say that I officially wrote a 50K novel in the month of Novemeber. People always ask me "What do you get from this?" My answer: bragging rights and a 50,000 word novel that you wrote. That's enough for me. Maybe sometime, I go back and begin the editing process and also finish up writing the tail-end of my novel. For now, I'm going to take a slight break from the nonstop novel writing sessions that sometimes went until even three o'clock in the morning.
So you guys have an idea of my next writing project, I'm going to submit a query letter with several of poems to a publishing company by the end of this month; with any luck, I could potentially have a book of my own poetry published. Maybe this will happen, maybe this won't. Doesn't hurt to try, right?
Until December 12th (aka. the day I finish up finals), I'll be incommunicado for the most part. Two finals this week along with my flute jury and three finals next week. Four Christmas presentations for which I'll be playing violin...not flute. Now that I've gotten all of the music for the production, it's time to cram and learn it all before the presentations in less than a week. Wish me luck.