10K Tuesday!

So, I have officially validated my word count and have been virtually escorted into the NaNoWriMo Winners’ Circle. (And yes, I mean the winners’ circle and not the winner’s circle, since there are many winners! Just in case you wanted to go all grammatical on me!)

But I’m not done yet. The Maryland WriMos have taken up word war challenges with two worthy contenders. The first contest is between the Lushguins, a Texan team for writers who live within 60 miles of Austin or Houston, and the entire state of Maryland. This challenge has a history behind it, but it’s my first NaNo so it’s all new to me.

The second challenge is a word war between Naperville and Maryland. Tim, aka NewMexicoKid, kindly designed a cute mascot for the Maryland team. The blue crab is holding a jousting lance, since jousting is the official state sport of Maryland. Yes, really it is!

The word wars are hot and heavy, but they’re all in the spirit of fun. And it has been a wonderful way of motivating myself to write. I really didn’t know at the end of October whether or not I’d be able to pull off fifty thousand words on a nonfiction piece. I needed to prove it to myself that I could do it. But I had no aspirations at the beginning of the month to push beyond that 50K goal. It seemed like it would be enough.

But it isn’t. At around sixty thousand words, my novel is still going. I would say “still going strong,” which may be a slight exaggeration, but even now I can see the difference between what I wrote in the second chapter and what I just wrote in chapter twenty. Somewhere along the way, plugging away and word counts, I found my stride and the story started to develop. I no longer worry about throwing some of it out and starting over; the work isn’t the impossible task I thought it would be. And instead of being a drudge, I found that the couple of days I didn’t do any writing I actually — really — felt like I was missing something. In a good way!

Whether or not this novel ever makes it into print, the journey has been an incredible success for me. I’ve proven to myself that I can write long fiction. Just a few months ago I put 700 words down as the start to a story and felt like I had really accomplished something. Now that seems like just a warm-up. Of course, it all depends on the writing project, and I have no illusions about writing nonfiction as quickly or as carefree as I’ve just done for NaNo. But there is one thing that’s been missing from my writing for a long time, especially since I’m in graduate school and most of my work is academic these days — and that’s the ability to relax into it and just have some fun.

Anyway, back to the challenges. I’m tasking myself to write 10,000 words today — Tuesday the 29th. It’s the next to last day for NaNoWriMo 2011. Can I do it? Challenge me!


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