Today is the last day of November, which means that many people are either celebrating the completion of their NaNoWriMo goals or scurrying to catch up. But not me.
Why, you ask, didn't I participate in National Novel Writing Month? Well, to answer that question, I have to tell you a story that takes place back when I was a freshman in high school.
I was going to a private school for the first time since preschool. Luckily for me, this school only had 30 students in it, and the high school had five students including myself. But since the school was so small and my best friend was in 8th grade, I was able to hang out with the younger kids.
I was scared. Understandably so. I'd been homeschooled since kindergarten, and now I had to stay trapped behind a desk for eight hours a day with strange people. I was changing curriculums for the first time. (Honestly, the worst part was the diagnostic testing.) I missed the entire second week of school after I had a bike wreck and got a concussion.
And on top of all of this, my almost-fourteen-year-old self decided to do NaNoWriMo.
I had the sense to only aim for 30,000 words instead of 50,000, which was the established word count for a NaNoWriMo novel. It was tough enough trying to write 1,000 words every day. The good thing about this particular school was that if you were diligent and got all your work done before pickup at 3:30, you didn't have homework. At all.
Another interesting thing about the curriculum we used was that you decided how much work you did in a day. You set goals for yourself on a 4x6 card, which was aptly called a Goal Card. We'd pin them to individual corkboards at our desks and cross off each goal as we came to them. (Except that we didn't have corkboards, so we just used ceiling tiles covered in fabric. Mine looked like a quilt.) If you didn't finish a goal for a day, you brought it home as homework.
On one particular day, as pickup time was drawing nearer and I was working frantically to get my goals done, my goal card fell down when I tried to re-pin it to my ceiling tile. I reached behind my pencil holder to pick it up. I re-pinned it. It fell down again.
I started to cry, and someone noticed.
"What's the matter?" they asked me.
"I can't have homework today because I'm behind in NaNoWriMo and I really need to finish my word count and other people are writing 50,000 words this month and I can't even write 30,000--"
We got an adult, and I got a hug, and we found out that I'd been accidentally assigning myself too much work. So I got all my unfinished goals brought down to the next day and I was ready to go home, homework-free.
In case you're wondering, I was indeed able to write 30,000 words in 30 days. By December, I had the rough draft of Where the Clouds Catch Fire finished. (And don't worry, the final draft of the book is over twice as long.)
I'm a very task-oriented, performance-driven person. If I fail at something, I beat myself up about it. Since I don't enjoy that feeling, and since writing 1,000 words every day doesn't leave any time for church, family, or physical exercise, I might not do NaNoWriMo again for a while--at least until I've graduated college.
Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Did you succeed? And please, since I need help with a college project, do you know how to make a PowerPoint presentation? Let me know in the comments below! God bless you, and don't forget to Like us on Facebook!
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.