December 1, 2014
Last night, at 11:59 p.m., I crashed through the “Finish Line” with 50,014 words (that NaNoWriMo counted as 50,150). Before that day, I had worked up to 45,000 words. Knowing I had a long way to go, still, I turned into one romping-stomping writing machine, as I applied the word-count building tricks I had learned along the way.

This has been the hardest part. As a writer and professor who has always stressed the wisdom of tightening up and shearing off excess verbiage, I was now my own worst writing nightmare: writing wordy sentences, leaving off hyphens, spelling out numbers such as two hundred, three hundred forty three thousand…well, I think you get the picture. If I had been reading my own draft, I would have flunked myself.

But, from the beginning, as Chris Baty stresses in his book, No Plot, No Problem, the objective is finishing the draft, polished or not. In fact, it is okay to change character names in the middle of the draft. Or send characters off on a safari when they are in downtown New York. Anything to keep writing.

And that is what I had to remember with only 500 — oops, five hundred — words to go. So, I started wrapping up the story by marrying off my protagonist. Fingers a blur as I typed madly along, I created a wedding for her in which she and her cowboy beau married in a wedding almost identical to my own.

Ah, but once I hit 50,014 words, the next task was to validate my novel by copying and pasting it into a box designated for it. When I discovered that I had copied only the first paragraph of my book into the box, my husband had  to jump in and save me from my raging “NaNo Nerves”. After a quick email to the NaNoWriMo Liaison who was able to validate my novel manually — BOOM! — I was in!

This was not my first NaNo experience, but it is the first time I have ever finished. Now that I know the ins and outs of finishing a draft and have shown myself I can do it, there is nothing  holding me back in future NaNoWriMo experiences.

The next stage of the adventure: revising and editing my brainchild. Stay tuned!

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