According to the stellar counting abilities instilled in me by The Count, this is my tenth NaNoWriMo. The funny thing about that is there was a time when I thought I’d be able to remember every single NaNo project I did because I didn’t realize just how many I’d end up doing.
The truth of that is here I am working on my tenth and I don’t think I could name them all.
But I can remember my first one. I think that’s because it turned out to be the most important.
I lost my first NaNo, but at the same time I won it.
My first NaNo was in 2004 and back then I was hard pressed to finish any story, let alone a long one. I’d written a few all the way to the end, but they weren’t worth much, none of them more than a couple thousand words at most. When I decided to take on NaNo that year, I had my sights set on that 50,000 word goal line. I was sure that I could do it. I had the story idea. I even outlined it on some note cards. I was ready.
And then the reality of November set in and I realized at some point by week two that I was woefully unprepared and I had really underestimated this challenge.
I didn’t come close to 50,000 words that year. I think I ended up with somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000. But, two important things had been accomplished during that November.
I wrote the longest thing I’d ever written.
I finished writing the longest thing I’d ever written.
Oh, it was pretty much garbage, but it was FINISHED.
That first NaNo gave me the confidence to keep writing. I now had in the hands this knowledge that I could finish anything I wrote if I went about it the right way and didn’t give up just because I got bored before the story got to the good part.
That first NaNo also taught me something about planning a novel, about how I work best. It opened a door for me to step through and learn and improve.
So here I am, ten NaNos later, looking at my seventh winner, trying to get 50,000 words in two weeks instead of a whole month and I’m thinking…
Man, this never would have happened, I never would have gotten here, if I hadn’t done that first one back in 2004.
That’s one that I will never forget.