After 30 long days and 2,872,682,109 logged words, participants of National Novel Writing Month wrapped up their work on Nov. 30, whether they had finished their 50,000-word novels or not.
Willis Chinn, a NaNoWriMo competitor whom I interviewed in an earlier blog post at the halfway point of the challenge, spent most of his November nights at coffee shops, racing to complete his fantasy novel, “Endangered.” When I last talked to the aspiring novelist he lamented that he was behind on his projected word count, but when I checked in with him at the end of the month, he’d emerged victoriously with a 50,005-word novel. Maybe those five extra words were, “I can’t believe I’m finished!”
Chinn said that by Nov. 29 the act of writing began to feel surreal. “It was this weird rushed moment—I kind of felt detached from the world. All I could think of was, write faster, stick to the script, or Oh crap I left something out, or Oh no I don’t know what to write,” he explained. “I had an overall idea of what I wanted to happen but the book wrote itself.”
But for Chinn, and presumably for many other writers across the world who reached the 50,000-word mark, completing the NaNoWrimo challenge hasn’t translated into a finished novel. “Sadly no, my novel is not at its final resting point,” he said, adding that while finishing the book that he poured so many long and caffeinated hours into is still very much a priority, he’s enjoying the freedom he once felt before November rolled around.
The winners have until June 2011 to put the finishing touches on their novels, at which point the company CreateSpace has offered to print up proof copies of completed novels for writers to promote or simply preserve their projects. Chinn plans to have his novel completed by then.
“I came in as a novice without anything but a simple yet dastardly idea, and to walk out hopefully in June as an actual published author… it’s just wow. I would have never thought,” he gushed. “This simple writing month can be pivotal for any aspiring artist.”