Saturday, November 28, 2009

Another Kind of Race

This month, I participated in a different kind of competition: a novel writing one! As part of National Novel Writing Month, I had to write a 50,000 words novel in 30 days. I spent all of October plotting out my story and when November 1st came, I was ready to go!

Just like any running races I've done before, at first things are good. You warm up and you get into a groove - for nanowrimo, the first dialogues I wrote didn't sound natural, but I eventually warmed up and was able to write them throughout my story. In a running race, after a while, you're having a good time just putting one foot in front of the other, or in Nanowrimo's case, one word after another. You're enjoying a good time with friends doing the exact same thing at the exact same time you're doing it and some friendly competition arises. All is good, until you hit the wall. It usually happens about 2/3rd into the race and it happened 2/3rd into the novel writing. The self-doubts creep in and you wonder how you're going to finish this race on time. At the darkest of times, you even wonder if you're going to finish at all! Fortunately, during those times, you think about your friends who are going through the same struggles and for some reason, knowing you're not alone in your misery brings you a lot of comfort and a new-found level of energy to keep going.

When there's only about 10% of the race left, you feel like this will never end. You feel like being finished right here, at this very moment. You're done, there's nothing left in you. Can we move the finish line please? Why don't running races end at 9K and Nanowrimo end at 45K you ask? These numbers would be just fine, you think. A fine accomplishment, in your books.

But you know it wouldn't feel as good if they moved the finish line and so you dig deep and you find that you had some energy left in the tank after all! Here comes the last stretch of the race and you're so excited about crossing that finish line that you are suddenly inspired. You speed up for one last sprint and you raise your arms as high as you can still manage while you scream "Victory!" when you run across the finish line.

As soon as you're done enjoying the immediate glory of being across the finish line, you run to your keyboard to let your fellow runners/writers know how well you've done. Why? Because only them can understand. They understand the effort you've put into your race and the satisfaction it has just brought you when you dug deep and succeeded!

To all my fellow Nanowrimo winners, Congratulations! Let's do it again next year.