Success is a funny thing. Sometimes it comes from achieving a goal. Other times, it comes from learning enough in the pursuit of one goal to achieve success in reaching a different goal. And thus it is with me and NaNoWriMo.
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was the month of November. I decided not just at the last minute but after the last minute to take part. On November 5 (or maybe November 6), I signed on, already behind by 8000 or so words, and I hadn't even begun yet.
I worked like crazy to catch up, and I made it! It only took a week or so, and I had roughly 70 pages of a novel written. I was especially amazed because I'm not a novelist, I hadn't put any forethought into the project, I was still getting my usual and necessary 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night, and I was happy with the surprises showing up on the page.
Now it's December, and the novel remains at that 8000 or so words, 70 or so pages. The project was a rousing success, even though I didn't reach the 50,000 word goal, and I don't have a completed novel.
How can I call my efforts a success? Easy. NaNoWriMo encourages folks to plow through a project. The stated goal is a completed novel, but the subterranean revelation is that plowing through can work, that novels don't have to take seventeen years (as was the case with Katherine Anne Porter's second novel, which was published seventeen years after Ship of Fools) to write; that writing is important but that doesn't mean it has to be precious in the icky sense; and that plowing has a proud history in this country. (Ask any farmer.)
In other words, NaNoWriMo prepared me for the moment when I had to decide whether the new book could be completed in time for a spring release. A woman who can write 8000 words of an unprepared for book in roughly a week can surely complete a (with a colleague, already partly written) book in time for spring. And so I said yes.
Thanks, NaNoWriMo! Maybe next year I'll play again.