Tuesday night I had a panic moment. Sill 9k words from the monthly goal, and several thousand words under where I was supposed to be I had a distinct, acutely terrifying thought: “What if I don’t make it?” Winner’s badges and triumphantly purple word count bars and a really cool winner’s t-shirt flashed before my eyes and then poofed out of existence like a magician’s disappearing act. I walked downstairs to break for dinner feeling defeated and really, really sad.
I told my boyfriend about the source of my woes and after his initial reassurance went unheard he tried a novel approach: he held our dog hostage.
He said “You have to finish, you know why?”
I shook my head at him, looking very much like the kid who’s just lost his ice cream from off his cone in an overzealous lick.
“Because if you don’t Buddy’s gonna die.”
At first I thought he meant karmically, like a curse or something. Until he promised to crush our little dog’s teeny-tiny head with a single kick. He said all this as if it were the most reasonable, logical response to a failure to reach my word goal.
I stopped my pouting, looked at him and said “That is the sweetest thing you’ve ever said to me.”
Over the next few days, with my little guy sleeping next to me on my bed, totally unaware of the danger he was in, I wrote. I wrote with abandon. I wrote without giving a rat’s ass whether or not what I was writing made sense to the plot or whether or not that was quite the word I was looking for or whether or not that was something that character would actually say. And every time I found myself wanting to stop and research something on Wikipedia or look up that word in the thesaurus to see if there was something better to describe what I was trying to get at I would look over at my dog, so innocent and unaware of his impending doom, and keep on writing. Because I didn’t want him to die.
I managed to play a serious game of catch up Wednesday when I met my word count goal after being 2k words behind. Then tonight, because I’d just written over 3600 words the day before, I figured that another 3300 to cross that goal line was nothing. A one-hour word war helped significantly and the promise of actually crossing the goal line and getting all of those things I mentioned above (not to mention my dog living through November) was enough to get me through. I now have a triumphantly purple bar with the word “WINNER!” on it, a kick-ass badge- check it out, on your right, it’s so pretty!- and I will be ordering my awesome winner’s t-shirt (because even though this is my fourth year winning, I’ve never bought a winner’s t-shirt before).
BUT, ah hem, I have not yet finished. I started this month saying that even more than winning this year I wanted to finish my story because it was so terribly rewarding when I did it for the very first time last year. Now, with only a day left and a pretty busy schedule for that day, it seems unlikely that will happen because I’m nowhere near the end so far as my story arc. To sum up why, let me explain that my story is about a group of seniors who go to a haunted house to do a paranormal investigation and at 50k words in, I just had my first actual paranormal moment. So, yeah- I've got a while to go.
In my frenzied, excited state I’m thinking of all variety of ways I can challenge myself to keep going and finish the thing. I could do NaNoFiMo again like I did three years ago. But that didn’t result in the end of that novel and ultimately just made me more frustrated. I could extend Buddy’s hostage situation until I finish, but without a concrete end in sight that just seems sort-of silly. I could say that I have to finish by December 5th because that’s when the sale of the winner’s shirts ends. Or I could come up with something so ridiculous, so devious, that I can’t even imagine it in my current elated state.
Whatever I choose, I know I have to keep going. Because if this story deserved to reach 50k, it definitely deserves to be finished. Wish me luck.