40K Shout Out with the End in Sight…

So, I’ve made it to another 10K mark, my fourth one to be exact.

At this point I had thought that I’d be feeling pride, happiness and joy, but admittedly, the only thing that I’m feeling is relief. Relief that finally, I have a target that in sight and, more to the point, even if I now write below the expected average, I’ll still make it. Writing 10K words is a hell of a lot easier than writing 50K and for once, I’m above target.

I have to confess that when I started this, I thought that I was biting off a little bit more than I could chew. It feels like an age ago when I stumbled onto the NaNoWriMo website and thought: ‘Oh yes, I had wanted to do this – what the heck, let’s sign up…’ In truth, it’s only been 17 days.
In a sense, a lot has changed for me in this short time. I find myself thinking about my writing in a different way, and thinking about other people’s in a different way. I met other people who wrote, people who have wishes just like I do, people who dream the same dreams. I’ve come to realize what a personal thing writing is and that there are as many ways of going about NaNo as there are people participating in it. I’ve been humbled by some people’s efforts, saddened by others and generally pretty impressed by most. For the first time in my life, I felt as if I was a part of something bigger and that my words were a part of something bigger. I found myself racing through words along with my fellow South Africans to try and get our country’s word count in the top 50 (of over 400 regions) and made an effort to attend the write-in’s that I could. I’ve touched souls that I would never have even known existed if it had not been for this strange month of November. It’s been such a gift and it’s reminded me how grateful I am that I can do this.

With the end in sight, I find myself wondering how I’m going to return to my normal writing routine, where I’d maybe type a few thousand words a week and not touch my computer for days at end. I ran a race once, and prepared for months before it to get fit. Then, the day of the race arrived and I completed it within my set goals. I remember being so happy that I wouldn’t have to be training so hard anymore yet, when I woke up two days later, I found myself lying in bed and wondering: What now?
So, I got up – put on my running shoes, informed my parents that I was leaving and went jogging again. Not because I had to, but because I had become so used to doing it that I didn’t know what else to do with myself. I chose to remain in practice, not for that race or the next one, but because it had become a part of who I was.

I don’t run anymore of course (bad knee) but in a strange sense, I feel that the principle is the same. The author Kim Harrison said much the same thing in her blog, that this month is like a race of marathon writing and that eventually, you find a pace that you are comfortable with. I have realized that I am comfortable with writing everyday, that I need this quiet time by myself to sit down and digest my thoughts. And also, for the first time, I don’t feel so isolated when doing it. There are people like me, running this race, collecting the words and putting them to black and white like tapestry makers.

I know that I’ll carry on writing, but I find myself wondering what’s going to happen to everybody else who started this. Will they continue? Will they write until they reach 50K and then just stop. Will they fail in reaching 50K and stop altogether because they could not reach the goal that they set for themselves? I truly hope not. Even if they don’t publish, I hope that they find websites like www.fanfiction.net and www.fictionpress.com to help them share their words.

You see, getting a book out there isn’t all that matters. What matters is that you enjoy yourself, and that you write for yourself first and foremost before you write for anybody else. Yes, it’s nice to earn a little bit of money out of it, or would be (I don’t know what it feels like, lol) but it’s more important to make this talent, this gift your own and keep developing it.

I hope that NaNoWriMo opened the doors for people and the school of thoughts that it did for me, and that people can walk away from it – proud of what they’ve done.

As for myself… I’m going to go back to my writing. 😉