Tuesday, November 30, 2010

So I won NaNo.

Seems to me like such a funny thing to say. It seems disingenuous in fact considering all the crap I let myself put down on paper over the course of the past month (NaNo = National Novel Writing Month). I was skeptical about the idea of winning NaNo before I even started. I firmly believe that in writing, as in children's sports, there is no winning or losing just how you play the game.

Well, that's a little simplistic, isn't it? We can win. There is money, popularity, good reviews, word counts. But the mind plays tricks and sometimes believing we are winners stops us up just as much as believing we are losers.

So I guess everything I needed to win NaNo, I already knew. I had learned it from yoga, from my crying daughter, from depression, from cleaning the house, from children's sports. There is only the moment and only discipline. All you can do is spend time doing what you love or whatever it is you need to get done. And the whole world is just fluctuations between those two things. And sometimes the things I love morph into the things I just need to get done but they usually morph back again - thank, God.

So yeah I deserve to win for pure tenacity. And I truly did win because I learned to trust my process. I found it validating to circle around my novel like a hawk. In the past I assumed my brain was disabled or something, not able to fly straight. This time I let it circle. And found it was heading straight down river but ever looking for prey. I discovered that when my gut is bored or disgusted with the words, it is just as well to stop and circle.

What do I have now that I am done? A book, mostly in long winded synopsis form, summary complete with motivation and character. I have to flesh out the last third into scene. And probably rewrite much of the beginning. (Oh is that all?) And I have the banner, which is darn good looking, right? I have more faith and I have fear and a very blank December ahead of me writing wise. I have been doing my morning pages as I had promised myself - 750 words every morning since I won, regardless of whether I want to or not. And it is a heck of a lot easier than the 2500 that I was doing for the first twenty days of NaNo. I think I need to commit myself to the next thing - whatever it is. Set my sights toward that and the discipline will follow. So yeah I guess I am a winner.

And I do have The Practice Room to keep me going. Come check out the schedule through the door on the right. Commit yourself. Thank goodness it is only for an hour and then you can get on with the rest of your life. Or some days it is the reverse of that, an hour that holds the rest of your life at bay while you do something that you love. Hope to see you there!


  1. TINA: This post is so truly beautiful. Congratulations on your win! I knew you could do it. :)

  2. Yes, very eloquent.
    Congrats, Tina! That is a huge accomplishment.
    Good luck in reshaping your novel!!!

  3. I agree with Anita and Kelly, this is a beautiful, thoughtful post. "There is only the moment and only discipline." Yowsa. So true. Congratulations!!! It really is an amazing accomplishment, one I doubt I'll ever have the guts to try. Be proud!

  4. Thanks you all!

    Anita - I started thinking at your gratitude post. So thanks.

    Kelly - Yep, I am done with this part! A little bit worried about the next!

    MG - I never thought I would do this either. I surprised myself.

    Tracy! Good to see you!

  5. I think the biggest gift of NaNo is the knowledge that you can, through sheer tenacity, build up the momentum you need to write novels. That you do have control over that, and you don't need to wait around for the muse to show up or for the right "mood" to write. You realize that if you can kickstart your process, you really can build up a head of steam and get rolling. Once you know that, writing is a lot less daunting. Word count aside, that's the victory right there. Congrats!

  6. Kristen, I like the idea or momentum and writing . I find that when I am "blocked" it has a lot to do with confidence and therefore I am deflated. So "head of steam" is working for me as well! For me, all these great words - victory, winning, gift, tenacity - turning writing from something that can be so serious and painful into fun. So, THANKS! I agree.

    Hi, Sarah! Thanks.Good to see you!

  7. HOORAY!

    I won nano only once, and it was a while ago (the manuscript is in a flowery box in the bottom drawer of an unused bureau. I do not let it out), and I'm amazed by anyone who can keep up that kind of momentum. It nearly shattered me.

  8. Thanks, Kelly! I have to admit to being shaky at points over the last month and I have yet to check my manuscripts vitals. But I will say it deserves a flowery box and a pretty bureau!

  9. Tina, I love this post. I could quote the whole thing. It's full of wisdom but I'll only repeat this little phrase: "All you can do is spend time doing what you love or whatever it is you need to get done. And the whole world is just fluctuations between those two things. And sometimes the things I love morph into the things I just need to get done but they usually morph back again."

    And congrats on finishing NaNo :-)

  10. Thanks, Paul! It has been a good month!

    Hi, Beck! xo to you!

  11. You have a truly inspiring attitude, Ms. Lee. For reals.

    I loved the part where you talked about circling your novel like a hawk. It sounds very majestic and, well -- lofty. I'd like to try writing that way. At the moment, I tend to 'hop' around mine, but more like a toad.

  12. Ray, Thanks! Sometimes I'm a Hawk, more often I feel like a toad or maybe even a lowly earth worm. When you're a writer you get to be everything!

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