NaNoWriMo and the aftermath thereof

So I “won” NaNoWriMo 2012 and have a nearly-good-enough-to-pass-as-mediocre-if-not-inspected-thoroughly novel to show for it. Now what?

National Novel Writing Month is an annual event that aims to convert an otherwise unextraordinary November into a stressful and anxiety-inducing 30 day separation from family and night night time. It’s considered a competition by many, but the real goal is to have no losers. There’s a loose support system in place, what with the non-stop pep talks and local NaNo groups that have cropped up in most “civilized” areas, but the good people behind it have yet to develop a remedy for life. Stuff happens and priorities shift. People get sick and die. Work stuff builds up and drags you into its malevolent grasp, seeking to syphon away any vitality you might miraculously still retain. So… there are lots and lots and lots of losers, and I guess that’s where the competitive spirit kicks in: I was a winner, and my smug bastardness proclaimed that fact all December long.

So I won. My new friend, Nate, in Chile, won. My old friend, Jed, who introduced me to Nate, lost like a stinking awful loser. And all of those things made me really happy.

Winning NaNoWriMo guarantees you end up with a short novel, and that’s exactly what I have (Inis Ealga is 50,009 words long, which is WAAAAAAAAAAAY more than NaNo’s 50k minimum. Can you say, “Overachiever?”). Unfortunately, as Jed Fecker the Loser points out, the quality of the finished work isn’t emphasized. That means that my book isn’t a book at all, but rather an extremely rough draft. But–!–it has accomplished the task all real books must: it’s been read. Twice! And not by me!

So, the excitement being as long over as it possibly can at this point, I’m back to my original question: “Now what?”

Editing, that’s what.

Euch. Gross. Sounds like a whole lot of work. Is it even worth it? Can this mess of a novella even be salvaged? Do I even want to pencil monkeying-with-it time into my busy schedule when, honestly, the only thing that could possibly give is my veg-out-and-recover-from-working-a-job-that’s-not-quite-awful-but-far-from-gratifying time? What about that hysterectomy Lynn’s about to have? I’m going to be one busy motherscratcher for the next six weeks or so! So… isn’t fooling around with a potentially irreparable piece of trash a really, really, really bad idea?

Yes, it is. The end.

But hang on–dammit, why do I always do this?–I’m going to finish my book, bad idea or not.

I enjoy writing. Editing, not so much. But, since my story is going to have to double or triple in size before it’s really done, I’m looking at the editing process as more of a scoping-out of the cool stuff I’m going to have to write later. Plus, fun as Skyrim is to play, I think there’s a far better story line waiting to be pulled from the muck that Inis Ealga currently is… and the fruits of laboring in the real world will always far exceed in value those produced in any imaginary one, regardless of the level of effort expended in either case. So, in a short time I could become the hero of an imaginary land (or, more likely, given the immense replayability of Bethesda’s ridiculously good game, I could have beaten the game as three or four different characters). Or I could be the proud author of a much-improved draft and the keeper of the hopes of a fully de-loused book and of the dreams of what such an eventuality could mean. I’m not supposed to have such dreams, apparently, but I do. I’ve wanted to be a writer most of my life… and as one former friend (whose pseudonym here escapes me at the moment) put it, “Real writers write.” So I write. And then I keep doing it. And when I’m done doing it I do it again and again until, dying, I abruptly stop doing it.

Will Inis Ealga ever be finished? I don’t know. But that’s my goal. Will it ever be a “real” book, bound with glue and paper and sold to unsuspecting dupes all over the world? That crosses into the territory of stuff I shouldn’t really think about too much. But it would be pretty dadgum awesome, I reckon.

I do know this for a fact, though: October is going to suck. Why? Because I plan to do NaNoWriMo again this year, and Lynn now knows exactly what I won’t be able to do for her in November.

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