Aimee and I are not going to win NaNoWriMo2011. We have not written 50,000 words during November. I have actually only written 6,827 words this month. Aimee clocked in a bit higher, somewhere between 8 and 10k. But I’ll tell you something important: I value every single one of my 6,827 words for the treasure that they are.
This is why. Each year, NaNoWriMo teaches me different lessons. Here are this year’s lessons:
2011 Lesson #1: Aimee and I are phenomenal collaborators. We think and write differently, we have different values and fascinations. But time and time again during this month, we would have a chat to work out the kinks in our story and we were both thinking the same thing or similar things. Many times, it was as if we each approached the problem from different angles, but arrived at the same place. So even though we didn’t write 100,000 words collectively on our story, it isn’t a failure and neither is NaNoWriMo 2011. Our story works and it’s nonperishable. It is something we can (and will) work on together in the future.
2011 Lesson #2: You can’t plan for passion. You can only succumb to it. As the first week of NaNoWriMo segued into the second week and we were already behind on our word counts (but strangely not despairing over it), I was gripped by another idea entirely. A memoir in dance. A book of essays about my experiences with dance. I couldn’t shake this idea. It had its teeth in me. I didn’t (and don’t) hate my story with Aimee. I lost some momentum for writing it RIGHT NOW (frankly, the momentum was never there this month, just a recognition that it was a good idea and remembering the joy of writing with Aimee). It turned out that it wasn’t time for Aimee’s and my story, not just yet. Meanwhile, I was going to dance classes and running home to take notes, euphoric with the high of both dancing and writing about dancing. And when I confessed this to Aimee, it turned out that we were, once again, both eerily on the same page.
Sitting in bed, cocooned in blankets, sipping hot cocoa, watching an episode of Psych. Moping. That should be me tonight. These fingers did not type out 50,000 words. Or 25,000. Heck, not even 10,000. This had to be my worst word count to date. Complete fail. I should feel that way, shouldn’t I? Except I don’t. Not this time. NaNoWriMo – and life in general – has been reminding me that sometimes I don’t make it. Sometimes things don’t go my way. I fail. And you know what? I’m okay with that. I’m still writing. The story I was so ready to tell – it’s still there. It was amazing to work with my sister again, but this month didn’t go the way I thought it would. So here’s my NaNoWriMo wisdom for this year: Sometimes you just have to go with what moves you. My sister had another story to tell. I could hear it moving her when she told me about it. And me, well, I started writing two stories this month. Good ones, I think. But I had another story moving me—one I’ve been busy living. The others will just have to wait their turn.
What it boils down to, folks, is that while we have a shortage of words and will therefore “lose” NaNoWriMo2011, we have an embarrassment of riches, plenty of stories and projects to keep us busy for a long time. We have both a wonderful collaboration and a concrete support system in place for each other. So…let’s just call it a tie, why don’t we?
Thank you to everyone who’s encouraged us this month and who’s been reading our updates, even as they got sporadic and disappeared. I can’t wait to hear how NaNoWriMo turned out for everyone else!