The Wake of NaNoWriMo

It’s over.

For me, it’s been over since I completed my first draft and met my NaNoWriMo word-count last weekend. Since then, I haven’t really done a thing as far as writing is concerned. This is usual, I think. The frenetic pace of daily writing to meet my goal was all-consuming and when it was done, I felt like it was okay to take a breather. I need to give the manuscript time to breathe as well. Yet, as a few people warned, there was also an element of fatigue in NaNo’s wake. It felt good to be done and to accomplish the task I’d set out to do, but now, writing could bite it for a few days!

It wasn’t just that, I felt a very real sense of loss and uselessness. After so many days of constantly thinking about my story, writing my story, and caring about my story, it now seemed like I was untethered and empty. I had poured my creative powers into this book for a few months and now, like a phantom, it was gone. I think NaNo allows us mere mortals to feel a bit like we’re doing more than just pursuing the dream; we are doing it. We are writers and the challenge helps us realize that fact. When it ended for me, it sort of felt like a death, I suppose, (not that I would know what that’s like!).

And it wasn’t just me, remember. I challenged the 6th grade students at my school to attempt this. I checked the website this morning and saw that just about half of them won. They did it! I am proud of them. Most wrote stories of 1,000 to 3,000 words. Not bad for a first outing, I think. Would it have been nice to have all of them win? Sure, but the reality is that some of my students could only access the Internet from school. Some of them just didn’t have the motivation to do this. For whatever reason, some didn’t reach their goals. That’s okay. The majority of students gave it a valiant effort and even those that came close yet didn’t meet their goal seem to have found a certain pleasure in this creative endeavor.

Many of them had been skeptical and a little put-off when I first suggested this project. “We’re not writers, dude!” their expressions argued. In recent weeks, though, as we all pursued our goals and had daily opportunities to work on, talk about, and upload our stories the students at my school were serious about their work and, I think, having fun. Many waited until the last-minute, adhering to the old “pressure makes diamonds” philosophy, and hey, that works sometimes. All I know is that, as a group, we did something new and different and unexpected. Perhaps, some students now have a desire to continue telling stories. Many have questioned me about what comes next. They know they have work to do. Who knows where this will all lead? That’s part of the excitement. At the very least, we will always have this moment to share and think, “we conquered that challenge.” It feels good.

So, as the sun rises on a new day, and a new month, NaNoWriMo 2012 is gone but not forgotten. I’m a little sad to see it go. It was my first time trying this challenge and the first time I’ve undertaken such a large project with such a big group of students, but it was worth it. The melancholy I feel now will be replaced with the joy of going back and rereading my work. Of course, that joy will be replaced with the misery of editing and the horror of realizing that I am a fraudulent hack! However, that’s writing, isn’t it? Just when you think you have reached the end you discover that the real work is just beginning.

But that’s cool, I am a writer and that’s how we roll!

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One thought on “The Wake of NaNoWriMo

  1. Well done! And the nano-hangover is normal just watch out for it lasting too long. It did for me but then I overworked myself at the end with a 13k day. Sometimes immersing yourself in someone else’s creativity in another art form helps get one back on the horse …like going to the art museum (I went on one of their free days, completely inspiring.). 🙂

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