A Post-Thanksgiving NaNoWriMo Update, Or: Little Miracles Do Happen

Happy Cyber Monday, everyone! Cyber Monday is a holiday, right? It better damned well be, if my slow-assed internet connection is any indication. Anyhow, I hope everyone’s had a terrific Thanksgiving. Well, at least us Americans have. You non-Americans don’t get to pig out on turkey and stuffing and candied yams and stuffing and more turkey and sweet potatoes and more stuffing and pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce and more turkey for 4 straight days. Suckers. You’ll never know what it’s like to open your fridge and stare at yet more turkey to be eaten, and you just can’t give the turkey to your dogs, because too much turkey can actually kill your dog, so you’re wondering, is it possible to make Turkey Soup? Turkey Pancakes? Turkey Milkshakes? 

Sorry if I just made you puke in your mouth. My Thanksgiving was fine, thank you for asking. What I was most thankful for was the relative lack of leftovers; the turkey and all the trimmings had been devoured by Friday night. We were smart this time: a smaller bird, less side dishes, less leftovers. And no worries.

On to the business of NaNoWriMo…

STATS (as of Day 26)

TOTAL WORDS: 39,038

WORDS PER DAY (AVERAGE): 1,501

The fact that I’m even averaging 1500 words per day is something of a miracle for me. By my count, I’ve lost 6 complete days of writing this month, either because of time away or Thanksgiving. I still think holding NaNoWriMo during November is a shitty idea, but I don’t call the shots, I only write the words. Still, the finish line is within striking distance. Like in the races I run, I can feel myself picking up the pace once the end is within sight. Shit, I can even smell the end of the month from here, and my sense of smell sucks.

I’m a bit more than 10,000 words away from the 50K goal. With five days to go, that rounds out to more than 2,000 words per day. And I am not sweating this. At. All.  But I can’t help but wonder how much progress I would have made had I even had but 3 or 4 of those days I lost. Is it possible I’d be at the 45-47K mark by now? Or would I be at 37-38K, procrastinating like usually, and revving myself up for the mother of all literary surges? Like cramming an entire semester of Molecular Biology in one night. Doable? Hell yes. Crazy? You bet your ass.

Another minor miracle – well, I’m being modest here; the miracle, for me, is pretty massive, but it’s moot if it doesn’t pay off down the road – is my realization as I’m hammering out the ending of the story that Daniel’s story is incomplete, because it dawned on me that I really didn’t know much about him. I knew about his background, his dysfunctional upbringing, but did I really know what the roots of his trauma and his (deadly) dance with bipolarity and schizophrenia were?

So I made the plunge, and what I learned stunned me: the most important character, next to my protagonist, is his father. The father he hardly knew.

I’ve written some truly dark material, even during Thanksgiving – yeah, I begged off and carved out about 2000-3000 words per night this weekend – that came surprisingly easily for me. For one, it’s helped me see some of the traumatic events in my own childhood that have caused me trouble as an adult. It’s also been fun exploring some of my childhood memories: going to Shea Stadium when the early 80s Mets were truly dire, seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark for the first time, wandering the aisles at the local Key Food or Path Mark, just to name a few.

Obviously, fleshing out a protagonist’s back story should have been left for the outlining process, but writing out his childhood memories has become an integral part of the novel itself. And it’s been a liberating experience; I’ve found that the real story was in the past, and not the present, nor the future.

Alright, gang…5 days left. If you’ve finished, and you’ve gotten your novel’s word count validated, then I say fuck you, you fucking showoffs I mean who the fucking fuck hell do you fucking think you fucking are, fucking Hemingway or something job well done! For those of us who are still plugging away, let’s do this. 5 days. No guts, no glory. Make it happen!

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