Another NaNoWriMo Has Come and Gone: How I Measured Up

I had one goal this NaNoWriMo: finish a few days early. I didn’t need to finish super early, I would have been satisfied with the 28th. I was all prepared and ready to go and then I had a grand mal seizure on October 31. So for the first few days, I wrote nothing. I mean my head was in a fog and I felt like I had been slammed into a steel wall multiple times because once was not enough. (It was my first grand mal seizure, so I really had no built-in tolerance or even knew what to expect after.)

Because of my late start and my “fog” I decided to loosen my rules for NaNoWriMo. Instead of words for any full-length manuscript counting towards my overall goal, I opened it up to any words on pieces, short or long, that were being submitted for publication. So blogs or journaling didn’t count, but personal essays and editorials being submitted did. I was amazed that by my check-in I was ahead of the game. I had a total of 29,703 words, averaging 2,284 words, which meant at that rate I was set to finish on November 22.

Of course, I didn’t actually expect to finish then. I mean the momentum I was having was abnormal for me. I used to be a prolific writer back in college, but now not so much, and even then I doubt I would have churned out 50,000 words in a month because my writing came in large spurts rather than a consistent daily thing. In 2014, 2015, and 2016 it was a close call in terms of finishing on time, even though I was totally ready and “prepped” each time. Even when I started out strong.

If there was ever a year for a valid excuse to not make it – it was this year. So by my check-in even though I was surprised, I still wasn’t sure I could keep it up. I think I half-expected to totally burn out. But if anything, I only gained momentum.

I reached the 50,000 word mark on November 17. Out of those 50,000 words, 15,022 words were essays/editorials made up of seven pieces. I had a total of 34,978 words in terms of manuscripts and while 7,736 words were made up of three manuscripts (because in my beginning fog, I bounced around, trying to figure out which manuscript-in-progress should be my focus) the vast majority (27,242 words) was a single manuscript.

Even though I hit my mark and made my goal, I decided I wasn’t going to stop. I did take a four-day break to recharge and then I kept writing. I set two new goals. The first was that my total manuscript wordcount would be 50,000 words or more. That way I could honor what NaNoWrMo is really about. I even wrote another essay totaling 1,730 words but it didn’t count in my new goal. The second goal, assuming I met the first, was that all 50,000 words would be from a single manuscript. I hit both.

I reached the first goal on November 27. I reached the second goal on the morning of November 30 and that manuscript alone totaled in at 50,550 words. My overall total period, was 75,038 words: 58,786 words for full-length manuscripts and 16,752 words for a total of eight personal essays to be submitted for publication.

I have never had such an overage before. I’m pretty sure that I’ve never broken 51,000 words before. And while the first two years were focused on a single novel, last year any book in a series I was writing counted because I figured they were all part of a larger story. This year I had the most lax rules, and yet I didn’t even need them. I am incredibly proud of myself and happy it all worked out, because at the beginning of the month, after my seizure, I was really worried that it wouldn’t. That is why I loosened the rules even more to include creative nonfiction (CNF) to count as long as it was to be submitted for publication. I’m happy that by the first week of writing, I had focused solely on a single manuscript, which meant the other manuscripts were me just trying to figure out what to write.

Normally, I feel like the deadline or churning out 50,000 words by the end of the month, affects the quality of the writing, but while I don’t want to jinx myself, I don’t think it did in this case. We’ll see because I am officially taking this month off and I’ll go through what I wrote, revise and then fill in holes (I never write chronologically, NaNoWriMo or not) and hopefully complete a draft ready for someone to read and give me feedback.

But until then, I can sit back, smile and feel the most satisfied I have ever felt regarding a NaNoWriMo. I hope next year is just as successful!

How about you? If you participated in NaNoWriMo this year, let me know how you did! 🙂

-DMW

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Should Have Been A Lawyer

Do you ever wonder about the life not lived, the road not traveled? I try not to. I mean it can lead to regret, the agonizing “What if?” and keep you from appreciating the life you actually have. Sage words, a good way to live, but as long as we’re human we’re not perfect and sometimes it still pops up.

While I have a few (I should have heavily pursued X; I should have never gotten involved with Y; I should have interjected and shutdown Z myself), the one that I keep coming back to lately is a matter of profession: I should have been a lawyer.

It’s not a regret as much a musing that makes me laugh, a road I could have traveled well and one I still dip my feet in once in awhile.

I have two great passions: writing and activism. I really can’t imagine myself without either. They are both a vital part of who I am, encoded deep within. Perhaps that’s why most of my writing is meant to matter. A wonderful mentor-writer once asked, “Why are you writing this?” My response was: I want it to matter. I want to it mean something to someone else and I want it to make a difference for the better.

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NaNoWriMo 2017: The Official Weigh-In

It’s another November, which means another go at National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). In past years, I’ve always made my goal, but have also been chronically behind. The first year, I had a late start. The second year, it just came in bursts. And last year, I was kind of derailed by the whole election thing. Sometimes I even start strong, but falter by the first week. This year is a whole other story.

I didn’t actually write anything until day four. I was completely prepared this time around. I made outlines, I refamiliarized myself with excepts I had already written of said manuscripts and explored the material with a fresh perspective. I did all of this by the afternoon of October 31. But then, in the early evening on October 31, I had a grand mal seizure and that kind of sidelined me for a bit. The first day I felt really weird, much like I imagine a drunk person feels like. No filter, everything I felt, I felt with extremes; I was hot, dizzy, sick and achy. It was awful. Honestly, I’m still coming down from that a little. Less sick, still hot and achy, and I’ve gotten my filter back and my emotions aren’t yo-yoing so that’s progress.

I worried that this would be another year, I would be epically behind and trying to catch up all month long. I mean if there was a year when that would be understandable, it would certainly be this year, all things considered. But on that fourth day, I wrote over 4,000 words. And I’ve written every day since. In fact, my daily average if you start on day four is 2,970 words written each day. And I’ve written a total of 29,703 words towards the 50,000-word goal. To say that I’m psyched is an understatement. I’ve never been caught up before, and this time I’m not only caught up – I’m ahead! If I keep writing at this pace, I’ll finish by November 22nd. I’m already 5 days ahead of schedule if I want to finish by the end of the month. Continue reading

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Seized

How was my Halloween? Eventful. Scary for my husband. Depressing for me. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I have epilepsy. It isn’t a secret or a revelation, it’s just kind of always been there. When I was younger, my doctors and parents thought I had epilepsy and specifically absence seizures (then called petite mal seizures). Medication didn’t make a difference and as I got into my late teens a few neurologists questioned if I had epilepsy or even had seizures. It became a power struggle of sorts. Doctors arguing about if I did or didn’t have epilepsy or seizure activity. Most acknowledged seizure activity but questioned if I actually had a seizure disorder.

In college, I had two major episodes that I now understand were focal seizures. Before that I was only familiar with absence seizures, where I am gone for three to five seconds. I don’t shake, but sometimes my eyelids will flutter. I have no muscle control during them and cannot function. If I’m talking, I stop immediately. If I’m holding something, I drop it. If I’m walking, I stop. I cannot move during these seizures and just freeze until they’re over. I don’t know I’m having them because they are so short and don’t have physical after effects. I only know I have them if I fall or drop something, but don’t remember doing either. So with these timing is everything.

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Another Year of Pumpkin Patches, Omaha Visits and Halloween

Every year, my husband and I have a good time getting ready for Halloween. Our neighborhood has a lot of kids, who seem to bring their friends because we get A LOT of trick-or-treating traffic. So we carve a few pumpkins, have a few spooky decorations (but not too scary for the littler kids) and buy a lot of candy. Last year we even dressed up! We also have made it a tradition the past few years to go to Omaha and go to the local pumpkin patch with my family.

This year we kind of fell behind. We still went to Omaha and it was a lot of fun. We got to see people, eat at our favorite places and of course go to the pumpkin patch. I also threw my husband a surprise 40th birthday dinner with all of our friends and family in Omaha. Because we were going to get pumpkins we didn’t fly this time – we drove. Which was okay since we love our new car and it makes driving and riding shotgun so much more enjoyable (and having working heat doesn’t hurt either! 😛 ).

We had a good time at the pumpkin patch, but there’s not a lot to say there because it was much of the same. Though this year my husband finally got to try their chicken pot pie, and we also got some apple cider donuts. (We planned to meet up with my family to share them, so we got eight but ended up eating seven ourselves before we saw them, because they were AMAZING. We waited in line forever, but they were worth it.) Usually when we pick out pumpkins, we have to wander around a bit. Last year we went earlier in the year, and this was still the case. But this year, shockingly, we found the perfect pumpkins in under five minutes – like they were right there along the edge of the patch. It felt weird not looking and walking around, but these pumpkins were big, round, no blemishes – in a word, perfect. Why mess with perfection?

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