53,379 reasons to do NaNoWriMo

It’s done. After a month of writing 1,667 words almost every day (with a few days hitting 3,000 to 4,000 to make up for traveling, family engagements, and the occasional bout of exhaustion), I completed my novel.

It’s 53,379 words, which is slightly over the 50,000-word goal set by the National Novel Writing Month organizers. It’s only a rough draft of course, and I’ll estimate it needs another 20,000 words or so to be complete, based on what others tell me, and on what I personally think needs to be added to round the book out properly.

But it’s done. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Characters start off at Point A and develop through to Point D, after passing through the emotional staging areas of B and C. Is it brilliant? Not likely, but I do think a few of the chapters are inspired, and after I’ve had a month or two to regroup and relax, I’ll revisit it and decide what happens next.

The book itself is not what others expected I’d write – it’s not a fantasy or science fiction book, or even horror. Rather, it’s more of a slice of geek life kind of book; think of a cross between Clerks and Broadcast News, with a little bit of Office Space thrown in. I chose this topic because it focused on character development and interactions, which I figured would make it the hardest book I could write for NaNoWriMo.

I don’t know that I was right – fantasy would have required a lot of world building work, science fiction a lot of research, but I can tell you that the project was as grueling as it was satisfying. Moreover, it got me back into a writing mindset; while I’ve been freelancing for SCIFI.com and Nuketown (as well as a few other places), it’s been years since I was a reporter, and writing was my day job.

I’d forgotten how satisfying it is.

It was truly a marathon-like task, and I’m grateful to my wife Sue for giving me the time I needed to do it, and for my friends, both online and off, who encouraged me to push on. Having a cheering squad helps immensely. In doing this project, I’ve accomplished one of the goals I set out for myself more than a decade ago. I also proved to myself I could do it.

I should have done this years ago.