Moments Of Drama In The Final Days

And…a big sigh of relief.

winner 3




NaNoWriMo is over and for the first time ever, I am a winner!  The path to 50,000 words was not without its own pitfalls and I thought I might mention some of the issues that arose in the final days.

1) Just A Few Minutes More….

I usually wake up between 0530 and 0600, just to give myself a little extra time to myself each morning.  Sometimes I play games (miss you, PS3…daddy won’t be gone forever), but I usually write.  Aside from my hour lunch, it’s the only opportunity I get to put fingertip to keyboard and knock some of these thoughts loose.

In the final weeks of NaNo, however, I found myself unable to keep my standard sleep schedule.  I’m not sure if it was the pressure of finishing or general restlessness, but I just couldn’t get a good night’s sleep.  As a result, I found myself hitting the snooze button on my phone (my alarm) over and over until it was time to get up have my daughter be late for her bus.  I lost out on several mornings where I could have gotten some writing done because I was just too tired to keep my eyes open.

Even now, I feel I could use a little nap.  *yawn*

2) Losing Control

As I wrote the final few words last night, pushing me up and over the 50K limit, I realized how far I had come in thirty days and how far I had yet to go.  But I also wondered if I hadn’t written perhaps a bit too much.

The 50K mark happened to closely correlate to the end of part one (yes, the book has two parts, unlike books one and two).  I don’t have part two scripted very well yet, but I have to assume this is, at best, the halfway mark for the book.  And while there are some scenes that might be scaled down a bit in editing, there are several others that are mere skeletons of what I plan them to be when finished.  As such, I’m looking at this book being well over 100K words when all is said and done.  Considering The Shadow Walker was around 58K words and the rough draft of The Shadow Within was around 65K, this third book is looking like it’s going to be a major leap in size.

There’s also an issue that with the jump from part one to part two, there is a tonal shift in the narrative (not going to explain why).  I always intended this, but now that I’m writing it, part of me feels like I should expand upon what I have for World of Shadows and make part two its own book.  But then my mind flashes back to the verbiage “Book One of the Unseen Things Trilogy” on the back of The Shadow Walker and in the product descriptions and I feel like…well, like I’ve lost control of what I set out to do.

3) Too Little, Almost Too Late

I crossed the finish line at work last night, waiting for my wife to pick me up.  I had planned to win total victory at home, where I could video myself typing those last few words on my webcam, but it didn’t work out that way.  I wasn’t too heartbroken, though, as I was just grateful to have finished.

My wife ended up going out last night, leaving me home to watch my daughter.  I knew I had to get my work validated on the website before they’d give me the prize money or whatever we win (check’s in the mail, right?).  I figured it wouldn’t take long to upload, so I copied and pasted my work and…it said I was 600 words short.  I stared at the screen, waiting for it to update or finish processing or do whatever it was doing, but nothing happened.  I looked back at word and saw I was 52 words over.  Back at the screen…600 words under.

I took a deep breath and did the only thing I could think of doing: I typed like a maniac.

I’m still not 100% sure what came out of me.  When I started writing again during lunch today, the first thing I did was put in parentheses (Note to self: Disregard this section.  Needs a complete rewrite).  And then I proceeded to do just that.  So maybe they weren’t the highest quality 600 some-odd words I produced, but at least I produced them.  And I did it before my daughter could capitalize on the fact I was in a weakened state.

4) Good For Me, Bad For Her

Come Wednesday, I was getting ready to throw in the towel.  After losing several early morning writing periods to my incessant need to sleep and finding myself otherwise occupied during my lunches, I was over 8,000 words behind.  The little angel on my shoulder put on its cheerleading outfit and busted out with its best “Rah! Rah! Rah” but I was secretly preparing my concession speech.  I got as far as, “I know I suck….” before I realized I had to at least try.  Waking up early Thursday morning, I made some good headway, enough to make me feel like I might still be in it.

The clincher came on Thursday night, however, when my wife picked me up from work.  I knew she was going over to her sister’s house for girl’s night out, which meant I wouldn’t get any writing done.  But I had grossly underestimated how much she loves me.  She offered to take my daughter with her, leaving me free for a few hours to write.

If you don’t know us, you probably can’t appreciate what a grand gesture that was.  I love my daughter with all my heart, but put her in a new environment and she’s either going to be a) overwhelmed and insist on leaving in the loudest manner possible.  b) try to explore every nook and cranny, leaving a potential path of destruction in her wake. c) all of the above.

From the sounds of it, she was more b than a, driving my wife a little bonkers as she tried to keep up with her.  I fully understand what she went through.  Every family get-together turns into me chasing after my daughter in hopes to keep her from hurting herself.  It’s exhausting, which is a primary reason why I often stay home with her nowadays.

While it wasn’t the best experience for my wife, it got me extremely close to my goal.  Without that night, I have little doubt I’d be sitting here now wearing my Shame Hat instead of my Cape of Pride.

5) The Final Straw

With my wife’s noble gesture paving the path for my success, I went to bed Thursday night feeling good.  As I told her right before we hit the hay, “Unless some crazy shit happens, I’m going to beat it.”

Then, around 0530 in the morning, my daughter woke up and started talking.

I kept pushing my alarm back, hoping she’d go to sleep so I could sneak out and finish.  But I was more likely to fall asleep than she was, and I spent the next two hours watching my hopes get dashed.  She stayed up until we had to get her up to go to school (it was around then she decided she would rather be sleeping).

Having lost my morning once more, it all hinged on how much I could accomplish at lunch.  I had my headphones out, I knew where the story was headed.  I ate my lunch early, so it wouldn’t interfere with my typing speed.  I just needed to get it all out fast enough and then there’d be nothing more to worry about.

That was right around the time I found myself drawn into a conversation.

I did my best to participate while typing a few words here and there, but I tried my best not to be rude to my co-worker.  Still, by the time I felt socially comfortable enough to don my headphones and tune out the world, I had lost fifteen minutes.  By the time lunch ended, I was a mere 700 words away.  I knew I could do it, but it was rough inching toward the finish line as I was.

Still, in the end, I accomplished my goal.  I reached the 50K (can’t believe that’s all I did considering the amount of time I put into it) and I have a decent “rough” rough draft of a book I’ve been thinking about for years.  It may not have gone the way I thought it would or intended, really, but that’s all part of the fun.  For now, I think I’m going to take a little sabbatical from writing.  Not too long, though.  I think I’m going to focus on typing up the rest of Together Alone this month and then I might run a personal NaNo in January to finish up the second half of World of Shadows (or whatever it’ll be called if it ends up being a fourth book….*shudder*).  Then, 2013 can be known as the Year of the Edit.

But for now…I rest.

S.L. Madden


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